Position Grades At The Quarter-Pole

October 6th, 2020

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We don’t mark on a curve here at your favorite Buc website, but a 3-1 record at the NFL quarter-pole deserves some good grades.

Tampa Bay has reeled off a 3-game winning streak following a sloppy Week 1 loss in New Orleans. The Bucs have beaten some pedestrian teams along the way and now the schedule gets a more challenging, just as the injury list begins to mount.

Here’s a position-by-position look back at the opening quarter as the surging Bucs prepare to travel to Chicago on a short week:


Those two pick-6s bring Tom Brady’s early grade down a tad, but he is on pace for 44 TD passes. As advertised, he is difficult to sack and only Dak Prescott and Aaron Rodgers boast more completions of 40 yards or more. So much for the skeptics who foolishly label Brady a dink-and-dunker at the age of 43.


Ronald Jones has been the primary back — and he deserves to continue in that role. He is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and is on pace for a 1,000-yard season. Jones needs to show better hands, however, so Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy could play important roles going forward.


Considering the health issues of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, this unit has responded well. The biggest surprise is Scotty Miller, on pace for 1,000 receiving yards. Evans keeps finding the end zone and Godwin should be back soon to torment opponents from the slot.


Rob Gronkowski has made his catches count and he is showing less rust with each game. Forgotten man Cameron Brate contributed Sunday with a scoring catch, but O.J. Howard’s ruptured Achilles is a major blow.


This group has to clean up some penalties, but the protection has been solid and the run-blocking has been upgraded with the additions of Gronkowski and rookie tackle Tristan Wirfs. The Bucs are very pleased with Wirfs in all facets, and they should be. He has the look of a future Pro Bowler.


Once again, it’s futile to try running against these guys. That 2.7 average per carry is a testament to failure and let’s give this defensive front some of the credit for Tampa Bay’s 14 sacks, third in the league behind the Eagles and Steelers. Ndamukong Suh is playing some inspired football.


Lavonte David has been on a mission since Week 1 and Devin White is making notable strides in his second season. Shaq Barrett, frustrated early on by all the double teams he commands, is starting to look like a disruptive force once again while Jason Pierre-Paul has offense’s attention.


Sunday’s poor performance triggered a slight downgrade for a young group that figures to rebound at Soldier Field. When the blitz gets picked up, these defenders need better communication and more teamwork. That will be imperative when Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes come to town.


Following the debacle in the Superdome, Keith Armstrong’s unit has responded well. Punter Bradley Pinion has been superb and it appears Tampa Bay has finally found a reliable kicker in Ryan Succop. Coverage units have been solid and that early blocked punt in Denver was appreciated by Buc Nation.


The Bucs were ready to play from the start against the Panthers and Broncos, then showed resilience after trailing 24-7 against the Chargers. Todd Bowles has been more aggressive in firing up the pass rush with an assortment of exotic blitzes, but that strategy backfired on Sunday against a poised rookie quarterback. Bruce Arians has ramped up the accountability level — and it shows.

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16 Responses to “Position Grades At The Quarter-Pole”

  1. Jimmy Says:

    Ira, I think you have a typing error for running backs. You meant to type F, right?

  2. ModHairKen Says:

    Suh. Brady. Evans. JPP. David. Top 5 in that order.

  3. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Brady is also on course for 8 pik 6’s breaking Winston’s mark. lol doubt it happens.

  4. Youngbucs Says:

    Ira you jinxed us with the injuries 😡

  5. BigMacAttack Says:

    Good stuff Ira. I agree 💯

  6. TampaTown Says:

    Ira: I’m willing to admit you have shaken the jinx on picking the Bucs to win as you are perfect with your predictions on the year. But please don’t mention injuries because as soon as you say we don’t have any, here they come.

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Very fair grades at the quarter point Ira. Nice shout-outs to RoJo, Miller, Wirfs, Evans & of course Brady on offense & Suh, David, White, Shaq & JPP. Several others seem to be putting together very nice seasons” Winfield (definitely not playing like a rookie), Dean (although not starting, he’s definitely got a nose for the ball), Davis (2 INTs & 4 PDs is impressive, if he could just stop getting penalized), and Gholston (very underappreciated IMO).

    Bears game should have all of us concerned since short weeks always seem to favor the home team & the Bucs have a number of guys still dinged up. Chicago’s 3-1 but IMO they’ve played easy teams thus far, and all 3 victories have been by 4 points; tough defense helped. Colts beat them Sunday by rushing 38 times against only 29 passes & controlling the clock (it helped that the Bears punter got a LOT of practice in that game with 7 punts). Sure would be nice for us to jump ahead early in that one; don’t like playing from behind.

  8. Buczilla Says:

    Very little to argue about with that list, but I’d give the running backs a C. I’m used to D or F running back play, so it’s an improvement.

  9. Bob in Valrico Says:

    This team is starting to believe. They can count on each other to do their job.
    Find a way to keep Godwin,David,Shaq and Suh and we will have a formidable team for several years.

  10. Bob in Valrico Says:

    JPP finds ways to make his presence known also. If he doesn’t get to QB, then
    the opposing QB sometimes finds his own O lineman being thrown at him. Disruption at it finest.

  11. geno711 Says:

    I always appreciate Ira’s well thought out takes.

    Cannot disagree with his grading.
    So glad we upgraded the offensive line with Wirfs and the secondary with Winfield.

  12. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Are TE’s getting a C because of OJ’s injury? Can’t be because of their play.
    Rojo and Fournette are averaging 4.4 and 5.1 yards per game and a combined 104 yards per game- yes, Rojo has had some drops and Fournette some bobbles, but Ira’s ranking of B is accurate.

  13. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Ira, I agree completely……great analysis…

  14. 813bucboi Says:


    BL aint HC material?…..lol…

    how cute…

    first you are dead wrong about his work in ARZ….after the cardinals fired their OC (mike mccoy)they promoted BL who only worked with rosen 7games…..

    hard to impress when the team is winless and you havent had a chance to work a qb from TC into the regular season….

    you wouldnt blame duff for a lousy defense that smitty created and got canned mid season would you?…..

    Bowles had a shot and couldnt get the offense together…..gotta outscore your opponent…

    teams with young QBs are hiring young offensive minded coaches…..

    yeah we have a stacked roster offensively but BL produced a great offense last year with a QB that tossed 30INTs….

    BL was missing #1RB & #2WR…#1WR and #1 TE got hurt and BL still managed to put up 30+ points on the board…..not many OCs can do that…..

    whats not to be impressed with?….our entire offense is better than last year and that with a QB, TE and RB still learning the playbook….we’re still improving…its not a finished product yet like the chiefs or packers….those teams have had the same HC,OC, QB, weapons for years….

    the fact is, we keep performing like this offensively and BL will be a HC next with the texans(watson) or jets(darnold)….

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  15. D-Rome Says:

    Ira, I think you have a typing error for running backs. You meant to type F, right?

    We may not have Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey but our running back group has a whole has gotten the job done.

  16. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    No offense Mr. Sage, but I think some of these grades are a bit generous. I agree on QB, offensive line, defensive line, tight ends, and special teams. My changes:

    Running Backs: C. RoJo running hard, but drops. Overall an average bunch so far.

    Wide Receivers: B. Some drops and inconsistencies. If they were healthy it would probably be an A, but they aren’t.

    Linebackers: B. Lavonte playing out of his mind. Devin White is blazing fast, but still shows processing errors and major lapses in coverage. When his man is targeted, he is getting lit up.

    Secondary: C. Inconsistent. Got lit up Sunday by guys who have never played before and a rookie QB. Penalties. Lots of potential, but right now playing average.

    Coaching: C. We come out flat in the second half. We came out very flat on Sunday against the Chargers. Byron Leftwich continues to call too many first down runs to nowhere. Inconsistent. If it weren’t for Mr. Brady, I think this team would be 0-4 due to poor coaching. Brady is elevating everyone, the coaching needs to catch up.