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.
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This has gotten embarrassing.
The Buccaneers were thoroughly annihilated at home on Sunday by the Baltimore Ravens, 48-17. It brought back memories of the debacle in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and even more memories of all those blowout losses Raheem Morris’ team had down the stretch in his final season as head coach.
There is, of course, plenty of blame to go around. But for me, most of the blame should lie with head coach Lovie Smith. He does not have this team ready to play. It’s as simple as that.
The offense is awful. There was nothing doing in the running game (again.) The pass protection was pathetic; Mike Glennon was sacked five times. He had a rough game like the rest of his teammates, but I ask this: would Peyton Manning have any success behind this offensive line?
The defensive line is not pressuring the quarterback at all. Joe Flacco had all day to throw. He was playing pitch-and-catch with open receivers for the entire first half. He had five touchdown passes before the intermission. The secondary is pathetic. They cannot cover anybody, it seems. We’ve seen this pretty much all year, even when they face a backup quarterback, which Flacco is anything but. And what really bothers me right now, is that Smith doesn’t seem to be willing to change defensive schemes. Dear Lovie: the Tampa 2 doesn’t work anymore. Can’t you get that into your head?
I won’t provide any stats for the game. 48-17 tells you all you need to know.
The game wasn’t on TV up here in New England (amen to that.) But my twitter friends tell me the Bucs got booed off the field at halftime. It was deserved.
Next week, Tampa Bay has a bye week. Hooray! They can’t lose!
Coming up in tomorrow’s rant: the Bucs at the bye. It may be hazardous to Tampa Bay fans’ health.
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We have our first indication that the Buccaneers’ offensive line in 2014 is going to look much different from a year ago.
On Saturday, the team released right guard Davin Joseph, a former first-round pick out of Oklahoma. Joseph spent eight seasons in Tampa, made 99 starts and went to the Pro Bowl twice. But he missed the entire 2012 season due to a knee injury during the preseason, and never really regained his form.
There is a new GM calling the shots now (Jason Licht) so it was inevitable that we’d see some changes.
This move also clears up some cap space for Tampa Bay, as Joseph was due to earn $6 million next year.
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