Antoine Winfield Jr., the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ second-round pick in the 2020 draft, has been a hit since his arrival in Florida. He immediately won a starting job even though the Buccaneers had two talented safeties in Jordan Whitehead and Mike Edwards. He got a Super Bowl ring as a rookie and even had a pick off Patrick Mahomes in that championship game. His second season ended in a trip to the Pro Bowl, making him the first Tampa Bay safety to play in the annual all-star game since Hall of Famer John Lynch nearly 20 years earlier.
But the Buccaneers weren’t content to let Winfield settle in at the back end of the secondary and likely make several more Pro Bowls. In order to get the third-year defender into position to make even more plays, they devised a new role for him in 2022. Now, Winfield starts at safety in the Bucs’ base defense but moves up into the slot in sub packages, which generally account for 60-70% of the snaps in a given game. Winfield has done so well in this role that Ronde Barber – the O.G. multi-position DB – recently referred to him as “the best player on the field” when the Bucs are on defense.
Winfield and the Buccaneers lost in Week Six at Pittsburgh, dropping a dispiriting 20-18 decision to the Steelers in which third-down issues plagued the team on both sides of the ball. Tampa Bay dropped to 3-3 on the season, and while it still holds a tie for first place in the NFC South, it’s safe to say this isn’t the six-week start the Bucs were looking for.
That said, it was another strong performance by Winfield, who combined five solo tackles with a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. His sack of rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett late in the first quarter was a big play, as it led to a 12-yard loss on third down and a punt from the Pittsburgh four-yard line. The resulting good field position set the Bucs’ offense up for a short field goal drive that made it a one-point game early in the second quarter.
Winfield has now recorded multiple sacks in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. He has 3.0 in just six games this year and now has 8.0 in 35 career games. His sack total is tied for the most by a defensive back in the NFL this season.
Most Sacks by a Defensive Back, NFL, 2022
|Antoine Winfield Jr.||S||Buccaneers||3.0|
Getting Winfield closer to the line of scrimmage in sub packages is increasing his opportunities to rush the passer. It also involves him more centrally in run defense and he is tied for second on the team with four tackles for loss. That also ties him for second among NFL defensive backs in that category.
Most Tackles for a Loss by a Defensive Back, NFL, 2022
|Antoine Winfield Jr.||S||Buccaneers||4|
|10 tied w/||3|
So far, Winfield is the only defensive back in the NFL who has had multiple sacks in each of the last three seasons.
The Bucs’ defense collected two sacks on Sunday, the other one recorded by outside linebacker Carl Nassib, giving them 21 through six games. That ranks third among all NFL teams, pending the Monday night game between Denver and the L.A. Chargers.
Most Sacks, NFL Teams, 2022
2. San Francisco…23
3. Tampa Bay…21
Inside linebacker Lavonte David led that defense with a season-high 13 tackles against the Steelers. That marked the 41st game of David’s career with double-digit tackles, the third most by any player since he entered the league in 2012.
Most Games with 10+ Tackles, NFL, 2012-22
David is the third-leading tackler in Buccaneers franchise history.
Most Tackles, Buccaneers History
Cornerback Carlton Davis broke up a third-down pass late in the third quarter on Sunday to force a Pittsburgh punt. Davis has at least one pass breakup in four of the Buccaneers’ six games this season and continues to be among the league leaders in that category over the past four seasons.
Most Passes Defensed, NFL, 2019-22
On the offensive side of the ball, the Buccaneers got a second consecutive game of 100-plus yards from scrimmage from running back Leonard Fournette. A week after matching his single-game high as a Buccaneer with 139 yards from scrimmage against the Falcons, Fournette combined 63 rushing yards with six catches for 38 yards and a score for a total of 101. His six receptions gave him 32 on the season, which is the second most among all NFL running backs through six weeks (and pending Monday night’s Broncos-Chargers contest).
Most Receptions, NFL Running Backs, 2022
With 232 yards on those 32 grabs, Fournette is in the same position on the NFL chart at his position.
Most Receiving Yards, NFL Running Backs, 2022
Fournette’s final catch of the game was an 11-yard swing pass to the right that he turned into a nifty 11-yard touchdown by juking past several Steelers defenders and running over the final two into the end zone. Fournette has scored three times on receptions this season, which is just one shy of the Buccaneers’ single-season record in that category by a running back. Charles Sims set the record at four in 2015 and Fournette joins a group of three-TD scorers that includes Mike Alstott (twice), Adger Armstrong, Giovani Bernard, Warrick Dunn (twice), Michael Pittman, James Wilder and Cadillac Williams. Fournette is tied for the NFL lead among running backs with that touchdown catch total.
Most Touchdown Receptions, NFL Running Backs, 2022
Kicker Ryan Succop provided the Buccaneers’ other 12 points in Sunday’s loss, making all four of his field goal attempts to make him 15 of 16 in that category this season. Succop’s field goal success rate of 93.8% in 2022 ranks fourth in the NFL behind a trio of kickers – the Raiders’ Daniel Carlson, the Cardinals’ Matt Prater and the Bears’ Cairo Santos – who have yet to miss this season. Succop’s 15 made field goals are tied with Carlson for the most in the NFL this season.
One of Succop’s four three-pointers was a season-long 54-yarder. That was his longest successful field goal since he came to Tampa in 2020 and his first of 50-plus yards since he hit one from 50 against Green Bay on October 18, 2020. Succop remains perfect in 2022 on kicks of 40 or more yards. Succop has the most field goals of 40 or more yards of any NFL kicker so far this season.
Most Made Field Goals, 40-Plus Yards, NFL, 2022
With a team-high 53 points, Succop is also tied for the NFL lead in scoring in 2022.
Most Points Scored, NFL, 2022
That also pushes Succop’s scoring total as a Buccaneer to 320 points, which is the eighth most in team history and the sixth most by a kicker. His points scored in that span is also third in the NFL.
Most Points Scored, NFL, 2020-22
– Neither the Buccaneers nor the Steelers committed a turnover in Sunday’s game. The same was true of Tampa Bay’s Week Five win over Atlanta at Raymond James Stadium. This marks just the second time in franchise history that the Buccaneers have played consecutive games in which neither team committed a turnover. The only other occasion was on December 19 and 26 of the 2010 season, in an overtime loss to Detroit and a win over Seattle.
– The Buccaneers’ lone touchdown in Pittsburgh came on Tom Brady’s 11-yard pass to Fournette in the fourth quarter. That extended Brady’s run of consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass to nine, the second-longest active streak in the NFL. The Chargers’ Justin Herbert has an active streak of 26 games with a touchdown pass, dating back to December of 2020 and heading into Monday night’s game against the Broncos.