Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Third Preseason Game

Here are some takeaways from the Bucs’ 13-12 victory over the Browns in the third preseason game.  Since this was the so-called dress rehearsal game, in which the starters play the longest, this was the most critical game before it counts for real.

Tampa Bay’s defense is going to be lightyears ahead of where it was last year.  I know that’s not saying much, but new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has definitely made a difference.  They kept an up-and-coming Browns team out of the end zone all night.

I’m very concerned about the offensive line.  There was a lot of talk after the draft about how the Buccaneers did not address this need, and now it’s showing.  There are very few holes in the running game.  The pass protection is awful; Jameis Winston was sacked five times while he was in there.  Yes, there is still time to fix this.  But it’s hard to establish a running game when the guys up front can’t open up holes.  And what difference does it make if you have Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on your team if your quarterback can’t get them the ball, not to mention Winston’s inconsistencies with throwing the deep ball.

Matt Gay missed a kick.  He’s human!  But he responded with another game-winner.  I think he’s going to win the kicking job, though veteran Cairo Santos has done nothing to hurt his own cause.

Ryan Griffin will be the Bucs’ backup QB to start the season, after Blaine Gabbert left the game with an injury.  Who knows how long he’ll be out.

I will not be writing anything about the final, most meaningless-of-them-all preseason game against Dallas, unless major news happens.  The opener is just two weeks away.  Let’s go.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Some Thoughts on the Bucs’ Second Preseason Game

We are now halfway through the preseason, and training camp is officially over.  The Bucs are 1-1 in the preseason, having beaten the Dolphins, 16-14, on Friday night at Ray-Jay.  Here are some takeaways from that game:

The headline may be what happened at the very end of the game, when rookie kicker Matt Gay nailed a 48-yarder to win it.  It’s looking more and more like Gay is going to be Tampa Bay’s kicker, even though Cairo Santos hasn’t done anything bad to justify losing his job.  The rookie has opened eyes with his performance.

It was also a solid performance by Ryan Griffin, who saw the most action of any of the Bucs’ quarterbacks.  Granted, he was playing against Miami’s backups, but the backup QB job is up for grabs, despite Blaine Gabbert’s familiarity with Bruce Arians’ system.

Jameis Winston only played one series for the second straight game.  Let’s just skip over him for now.

My biggest concern may not be the defense, but the offensive line.  Penalties are also a big problem right now.  Arians needs to get this fixed.

The next game is Friday night against Cleveland.  This is the so-called “dress rehearsal,” when the starters tend to play the longest.  The third preseason game is always the one to watch.

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After 3 Preseason Games, I Like What I See

It looks like the Bucs are ready to get this party started.

 

There was a lot to like in the so-called “dress rehearsal” preseason game Friday night against the Lions.  Tampa Bay lost, but as usual in preseason, ignore the final score.  The Buccaneers, for the most part, kicked the Lions’ butts while the starters for both teams were in there.

 

Peyton Barber is going to be the starting running back on opening day in the Superdome.  There’s no doubt about that.  He’s looked impressive through three games, while Ronald Jones has struggled.  Jones did catch a nice deep ball down the left sideline, but he’s largely been ineffective running the ball.

 

There’s been more good than bad from Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will start the season while Jameis Winston serves his suspension.  Jameis has also played well so far.  Heck, the same can be said of third-stringer Ryan Griffin.

 

Special teams?  Adam Humphries, are you serious?  I know it wasn’t the 2013 Iron Bowl, but it’s rare for any Buccaneers to return any kick for a touchdown under any circumstances.

 

If I do have a question mark, it’s the defense (shocking!)  Yes, I know there are a lot of injuries, including first-round pick Vita Vea.  But I get the impression that the overhauled defensive line isn’t really gelling together yet.  And then there’s the secondary, which is still giving up big plays (but not a lot of points.)  Dirk Koetter says Chris Conte is better than you think.  Hey coach: we the fans beg to differ.

 

I know it’s hard to get excited over games that don’t count.  But the Bucs sure look like a much better team than the one that went 5-11 a year ago.  A note to my readers: I will not be blogging about the final preseason game unless there’s a significant development.  The fourth exhibition game is the least meaningful of them all.  Wake me up in two weeks in New Orleans.

 

Photo courtesy: Tampa Bay Buccaneers