Who might represent the Tampa Bay Bucs at this years’ NFL Honors?
Every year the National Football League holds a ceremony called the NFL Honors where some of the league’s best players are recognized as such and receive awards for their performance over the course of the season. Way back in September, we premiered part one of our Tampa Bay Bucs superlatives for 2022. Since then many, many things have changed, some good, some bad.
For example, in our initial superlatives I broke down how the Bucs were debuting a new strategic offensive approach, running the ball, and how a commitment to that was both exciting and crucial for the 2022 season. Since their week one performance the Bucs’ rushing offense has been horrendous and the team’s commitment to their rushing attack has been a little bit of a divisive topic of discussion to say the least (Oops).
Now we have arrived at the bye week for Tampa Bay and that means it’s time to revisit our superlatives list and check in on some of the candidates. Of course, there is no guarantee Tampa will have any players representing them at the league’s ceremony in February but there are still players on their roster who are the most likely to take home some hardware.
So let’s play another round of Tampa Bay Bucs superlatives.
Tampa Bay Bucs 2022 mid-season superlatives:
Most likely to win MVP: QB Tom Brady
Original nominee: QB Tom Brady
With the Tampa Bay Bucs at 5-5, I don’t believe that there is any player on Tampa Bay’s roster who is likely to win MVP. Tom Brady has had a much less explosive and statistically dominant year than his previous two in Tampa. The lack of big plays, big touchdowns and big wins make it difficult to see a scenario where Brady picks up his fourth league MVP award in 2022. Brady would need a cataclysmic shift in performance in the second half of Tampa Bay’s season to even enter the discussion. Still, even so, if anybody on the Bucs is to win it, it’ll be the G.O.A.T.
Dark Horse candidate: N/A
Original nominee: LB Devin White
Devin White had razor thin odds to ever be considered for an MVP award to begin with but those odds have evaporated now. Tampa’s linebacker only had one singular path towards winning the award and that was to be the face of one of the leagues’ most ferocious defenses on a winning team that was on track for another deep playoff run. White was actually on course for this type of season early in the year with three sacks, a forced fumble, and nearly 20 tackles in the Bucs’ first two games. ‘Get Live 45’ was creating havoc and he had Tampa’s defense looking like the 02’ Bucs, White even earned NFC defensive player of the month honors for his early season efforts. Had the team, and White, continued on that pace the dark horse MVP hype that a lot of networks have pumped around Micah Parsons in Dallas could be similarly pumped around Devin White. Unfortunately for White and the Bucs, he and they have been far too inconsistent. Tampa Bay has had too many games in primetime where they have floundered defensively. As an individual, White has missed too many opportunities to show voters what he is capable of and any last gasp off-chance the 24 year old linebacker had was immediately wiped out when Hall of Famer Warren Sapp publicly put him on blast for his performance, questioning his effort against the Baltimore Ravens. Devin White has been up and down in 2022, he is still capable of having a good season, but his MVP hopes are far gone.
Most likely to win ROY: RB Rachaad White
Original nominee: DL Logan Hall
Rachaad White’s candidacy is a little bit projection-ary. He has not done anywhere near enough to this point in the season to truly be considered for the award, however the arrow is pointing up. White is only growing as a player and as a contributor towards winning week by week. This registers as an easy pick to make when the rookie is coming off the unquestioned best game of his young career, but his outstanding day against the Seattle Seahawks is actually more of a trend than a one off. While Rachaad White started the season with five straight games of three yards per carry or less, he has been well over that mark in each of his last four. White had an eye popping 100 yard rushing day this past Sunday against Seattle but he has quietly toted the ball for four yards per carry in three of his last four contests. The rookie running back’s playing time has increased and with more playing time has come more production. As for Logan Hall, Tampa’s young defensive tackle has netted just two sacks in 10 games. Any lack of production Hall has had is not due to lack of opportunity. Hall, on a fully healthy Bucs front, is merely a rotational piece but Akiem Hicks’ injury did open the door for the rookie to see a significant increase in snaps over the course of multiple weeks in order to make an impression.
Dark horse candidate for ROY: TE Cade Otton
Original nominee: RB Rachaad White
Cade Otton did not have a hype machine surrounding his coronation as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer. Perhaps there are a few reasons for this, out of Washington Otton was a day three draft selection who had only scored nine touchdowns in his college career, or maybe it was simply Bucs fans refusing to pay attention to the young tight end prospect as they hoped and dreamed that he wouldn’t even be asked to play once Rob Gronkowski unretired. Either way Otton’s play cannot be ignored, at the onset of the season he was a part-time, substitutional player. Cameron Brate’s injury penciled him in as a full time starter and he has filled the role admirably. No, he is not ‘Gronk’ but Otton flashes many solid qualities for a young player. With reliable hands, he has become a favorite target of Tom Brady patrolling the middle of the field and working underneath on shorter routes. Otton, see the Los Angeles Rams game, has also proven to be trustworthy in the clutch with his first touchdown counting as game-winner from the G.O.A.T. Much like in the case of Rachaad White, the arrow is only pointing up for Otton who has 281 yards receiving on the season, over 200 of which have come in his last five games.
Most likely to win Comeback Player of the Year: WR Julio Jones
Dark horse candidate: DL Akiem Hicks
Original nominees: “…”
Unfortunately for each of our Comeback Player of the Year candidates, the 2022 season has proved to be much of the same when being compared to their years prior. In both the case of Julio Jones and Akiem Hicks, both have had big impacts on the season when they have been healthy, however health has been a struggle. For Julio Jones it has been little things that have nagged at him, keeping him limited in most games or just out entirely. Akiem Hicks hasn’t been the victim of a long list of injuries but did suffer a considerable foot injury, forcing him to miss a sizable chunk of time. The impact these two have on Tampa Bay when they are on the field and playing is evident. Julio Jones gives the Bucs a noticeably impressive third option in the passing game. His speed and the ability to catch and run, creating big plays, ignites a spark for the Bucs’ offense. Hicks has a more easily seen impact when he is off the field. Without him in the middle the Bucs’ run defense was unprecedently gashed. The absence of Hicks coincided with Bucs fans’ Ndamukong Suh chants peaking at their loudest. Hicks’ recent return from injury has seemed to have steadied Tampa’s run defense and allowed them to return to form as of late. The health of both of these players will heavily determine the outcome of the 2022 season for the Tampa Bay Bucs.
Part one of our original Tampa Bay Bucs superlatives featured two nominees for the unofficial award of players most likely to become household names. Keeping on with that theme—
Most likely to become a household name: P Jake Camarda
Original nominee: EDGE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
A punter as a household name? YES. Rapidly rising to special teams stratum Jake Camarda is everything a team could ever want in a punter. I have no problem admitting my skepticism was high when the Bucs drafted a punter in the fourth round of last year’s draft. I also have no problem with the admission that I am far from a punting expert so when the Bucs’ rookie punter stepped on the field, I wanted him to show me something and it has been shown. Camarda is not just any punter, he is a fortified special teams weapon. Jake Camarda started his career with a bang, literally, hitting the Dallas Cowboys scoreboard in Jerry-World during his first start. He is now 10 games into his NFL career and he’s coming off his third straight game averaging over 50 yards per punt with a jaw-dropping 61 yard average on two kicks last week. Already, Jake Camarda has tied the franchises’ record for longest punt and has been awarded special teams player of the week honors as a rookie. Camarda even brings added value as the Bucs’ kickoff specialist where, if you watch closely, you might even see him make a tackle or two. Punters may not be exciting but they are important and the Bucs drafted a great one.
Dark horse candidate: EDGE Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
Original nominee: OL Robert Hainsey (The original synapse was painfully, too accurate)
A small slippage here for Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, coming in as the dark horse favorite in the mid-season superlatives. Watching Tryon-Shoyinka, I’m not sure I have ever watched a player be so consistently close to making a ton of plays while only making a few. Whether that’s a compliment or damning with faint praise, I’m not sure. The second-year edge rusher has gone from rotational player, to starter, to number one edge defender, early in his tenure with the Bucs. He continues to show game changing potential. Whether it’s getting instant pressure on the quarterback and not being able to wrap him up for the sack or just causing general disruption throughout the game that allows others to flow to the ball and make plays, his biggest deficit is an inability to consistently finish. The Bucs put out a good deal of hype around JTS when they drafted him and it’s clear why, but as close as he may be he has not fully been able to cash in on his potential yet.
We will revisit our Tampa Bay Bucs superlatives for an end-of-season edition after the conclusion of Tampa’s 2022 season. In part three we’ll check in on all of our candidates, see how their season’s went and whether or not any Tampa Bay Bucs are called up on stage at this year’s ceremony. What Bucs do you think might capture some awards at the NFL Honors?