Jameis Winston is out. Mike Evans missed Sunday’s game due to suspension. DeSean Jackson hasn’t quite launched and the defense — at least until Sunday — hasn’t been very good. So who is the Bucs’ best player this season?
The Times’ Bucs coverage team weighs in:
Rick Stroud, @NFLStroud: This season there are two candidates, although I would argue defensive tackle Gerald McCoy commands the most respect from opponents. Receiver Mike Evans still is a budding superstar. But he has been a bit inconsistent of late and hurt his team with a suspension. Although he missed some games with an ankle injury, Lavonte David is playing the best football. He’s on fire. He’s making tackles for losses. Forcing fumbles. Recovering fumbles. Pressuring quarterbacks. Too bad he can’t play offense.
Greg Auman, @gregauman: No offensive player has been consistent enough to keep pace with David, who has forced and recovered four fumbles already this season. He has set the tone for what the Bucs want their defense to be.
Tom Jones, @tomwjones: This isn’t even an argument, is it? It’s David. Granted, this is not a special defense. But David is a special player. A tackling machine and a ball magnet. He consistently makes the sure plays and often makes the splash plays. He’s a bright spot on a team that has had few bright spots this season.
Martin Fennelly, @mjfennelly: David has been the Bucs most consistent player. Maybe it’s easy to stand out on a bad defense, but David has been making big plays. If this was about more than this season, I’d go with Evans. He stills fight double coverage, and the offense is awful, and his touchdowns are down, but the guy is still the best player on this team.
Ernest Hooper, @hoop4you: I’ll answer the question this way: if you allowed the league’s playoff teams to pick one player from the Bucs roster, they would take McCoy. Evans would be a better choice if you’re building towards future seasons, but if you’re making a playoff push, you want to add the pocket-collapsing presence of McCoy. He’s still a guy offensive coordinators have to account for every week. But it takes more than one brick to build a wall.