Bucs’ Third Preseason Game: U-G-L-Y

Remember all that optimism from the Monday night victory over the Bengals?

It’s all gone for now.

What we saw in the third – and arguably most important – preseason game on Saturday night was similar to what we saw all of last year.  The Bucs played poorly on all sides of the ball.

On offense, Jameis Winston looked like a rookie.  He struggled all night long, especially when the Browns blitzed him.  He only threw for 90 yards and one ugly-looking interception.  Don’t think for a moment that other teams aren’t going to follow the same blueprint once the season starts.

That brings up the second area of concern: the offensive line.  The pass protection was awful, allowing Winston to be sacked four times (and Mike Glennon twice.)  The running game wasn’t any better.  Yes, Doug Martin did have a nice 19-yard touchdown run.  But aside from that, it was slim pickings.

The defense wasn’t that great.  Josh McCown (remember him?) threw two touchdown passes against his former team.

Special teams?  How about that 53-yard punt return by Travis Benjamin?  Yeah, he plays for Cleveland.

At least the Buccaneers cut down on the penalties, anyway.

So there wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about at Ray-Jay on Saturday night.  Lovie Smith has two weeks to get all of this fixed in time for the opener against the Titans.  I’m not even going to talk about the final preseason game; the fourth one is the most meaningless of all because the starters on both teams hardly ever play.

Photo Courtesy: USA Today

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Wow – the Bucs Looked Good on Monday Night

Tampa Bay fans: there is reason for hope.

There was a lot to be excited about in Monday night’s preseason victory over the Bengals at Ray-Jay. Jameis Winston looked great. Doug Martin looked like the Doug Martin of his rookie season. Heck, even the defense sacked Cincinnati QB’s a few times.

I know, I know: it’s only preseason. But how could you not like what you saw in the first half of that game? I will only talk about the first half, because all of the stars were out of the game in the second.

Let’s start with Winston. Man, he has cannon for an arm. He marched his team right down the field to start the game, capping it with a scramble to the right pylon to open the scoring. Jameis finished 8-of-13 for 90 yards before limping off the field in the second quarter. It doesn’t appear to be a serious injury, and the Bucs did the right thing taking him out of the game at that moment.

Speaking of injuries, hopefully the one suffered by Mike Evans isn’t critical, either.

Martin also looked great while he was in there: six carries for 59 yards, including an impressive 30-yarder on the opening drive. We haven’t seen this from him the past two seasons. Hopefully this is a return to his rookie form, when he rushed for over 1400 yards.

The defense sacked Andy Dalton three times. Let me repeat that: the defense recorded three sacks. We haven’t said that much over the past few years. Gerald McCoy looked like the leader he’s believed to be. Altrerraun Verner had a Pick 6, courtesy of A.J. Green having butterfingers.

There was one problem area that still needs to be addressed immediately: the penalties. The Bucs had 14 of them for 153 yards, most of them coming in the first half while the starters were still in there. Penalties were a huge problem last year, and on Monday night, it seemed like there was a yellow flag on the field on almost every other play.

Still, a win is a win, even in the preseason. And Monday night’s performance gave Buccaneer fans reason to at least hope that things could be different in 2015.

Photo Courtesy: Fox Sports

Breaking Down Jameis Winston’s Preseason Debut

Saturday night was the first time we got to see Jameis Winston take the field in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ uniform. He’s a rookie, and for the most part, he looked like one.

 

THE GOOD: Winston showed the ability push the ball down the field. His longest completion was a 40-yarder to Vincent Jackson. He looked really good on the touchdown drive late in the first half, which he finished off himself with an 8-yard run. Yes, it was against the Vikings’ second-string defense. But these days, we’ll take any bit of good news we can get. Winston finished 9 for 19 for 131 yards.

 

THE BAD: early on, Winston was way off the mark on his passes. He threw an ugly-looking interception right to a Minnesota defender, which led to a Vikes’ touchdown. He mishandled two snaps; the first one was snapped nearly over his head in the shotgun, the other was an exchange under center. Those mistakes need to be cleared up.

 

Besides Winston’s performance, I think the offensive line remains a serious concern. The left tackle didn’t put up much of a fight on the first sack of Winston in the first quarter. And on the right side, Demar Dotson left the game with a knee injury. It looks like he’ll be out for awhile. Defensively, the Bucs forced three turnovers. But Minnesota’s first-team offensive was impressive against Tampa Bay’s starters.

 

Next week, the Bucs host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

 

Lavonte David’s Extension: Good Move, Bucs

Lavonte David isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And for that, Bucs fans should celebrate.

Tampa Bay and David have agreed to a five-year contract extension worth more than $50 million.

David is arguably the best linebacker in the NFL that many people don’t know a whole lot about. Remember Derrick Brooks? Yeah, this guy is a lot like him.

David is entering his fourth year in Tampa. Last year, he was, by far, the team leader in tackles with 146. He is the glue that holds that part of the defense together, just as Gerald McCoy does up front.

So why doesn’t he get the fanfare that other stars do? It’s simple: he plays in Tampa, and his team only won two games last year. But he is one of the top defensive players in the league, and his big payday is proof of that.

 

 

The Bucs are Back, and so is Buccaneer Bri

The calendar has flipped to August. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ training camp is now a couple of days old. And Buccaneer Bri is back for my third season of writing about Bucs’ football.

 

We can only hope that this season will be better than last. Heck, it can’t get any worse, can it? OK, so it can: 0-16 or 1-15. But there is a buzz surrounding the team, thanks to the drafting of some guy named Jameis.

 

But we’ll see how it all plays out – in training camp, the preseason, and most importantly starting on September 13 against the Titans. As for the blog, I am grateful to all of you who read it. I plan to add some new features as the season gets closer, so stay tuned for that.

 

For now, enjoy the return of football, and go Bucs!

 

Photo Courtesy: USA Today