With DeSean Jackson injured, Buccaneers rookie Chris Godwin stepped up to the plate in a big way against the Panthers. The Penn State product had three catches for 98 yards, including the longest play of the entire Buccaneer season, a 70 yard catch and run to bring the Buccaneers into scoring range. The 98 yards are a career high for Godwin, who now has more yards and catches on the season than first round rookies John Ross, Mike Williams, and Corey Davis.
This time last season the Buccaneers were desperate to find offensive skill players to take the pressure off of Mike Evans, and they spent the off-season focused on doing that. Chris Godwin is evidence that they succeeded. Buccaneer fans can be excited that they have their starting two wide receivers set in place for quite some time.
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The man delivering strikes to Godwin deserves a spot among the winners this week, though I heavily weighed putting him on the less savory list. From a passing perspective, Winston was fantastic against the Panthers, a team that he’s had his struggles with in the past. He completed 21 of 27 passes for 367 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. With pressure bearing down on him from a leaky offensive line, Winston was brilliant inside the pocket and created a lot of plays all on his own. It was a well quarterbacked game, overall.
From a “face of the franchise” perspective however, Winston was not so great. His three fumbles further reinforced critics who say he turns the ball over too much, and his meltdown at the end of the game further reinforced other critics who say he’s an emotional wildcard. There’s context for all of it, but when you’re the franchise quarterback, context doesn’t really matter. Winston is not Tom Brady – he doesn’t have the resume to afford meltdowns on the sideline that include stampeding through team legends like Shelton Quarles. Had Winston’s on-field play not been so great, he would have been guaranteed a spot among the losers. Taming the competitive beast in Winston should be a key objective for the Bucs and their quarterback this off-season.