This week we make our 2014 debut of the 10 Things We Think We Learned segment for our post game coverage. Why wasn't there a 10 Things last week? Frankly because I don't think you learn a darn thing from pre-season week one.
But we did learn a lot about the team this week, some of it comforting and some of it a bit worrisome.
1. Better on the offensive line but still not good. Yes, Patrick Omameh held his own last night against a solid Dolphins front seven and Oneil Cousins was still bad but not as terrible as he was last week. Anthony Collins looked better and EDS turned in a decent performance. Demar Dotson got whipped once but did fine the rest of his snaps. The first unit gave up one sack and gave Josh McCown a pocket he could work with. They also opened up a few holes for Doug Martin, who seems to finally be finding himself again.
The second and third team offensive line was not very good, surrendering way too many pressures and sacks (although some of that was due to Glennon and Kafka holding on to the ball too long).
All-in-all a meh night for the offensive line as a unit but definitely better than last week's train wreck. I will say I don't want to see Jamon Meredith on the football field for any reason any longer.
2. As for the quarterbacks, McCown looked a little more comfortable and in control, especially in the up tempo no huddle attack. However, the Bucs didn't sustain any drives in McCown's first two series and the scoring drive was thanks to the short field created by the defense. It was nice to see McCown deliver a laser beam to Jackson in the endzone but I think the Bucs are going to want a lot more from their offense this season.
Glennon had a touchdown robbed from him when first round pick rookie WR Mike Evans failed to transfer the ball away from the defense, got it punched out and through the back of the end zone awarding the football to Miami. I really think that's a stupid rule, by the way. If the defense didn't recover the fumble in the end zone, why do they get rewarded with possession when anywhere else on the field the ball would go back to the offense?
Other than that one play, Glennon looked pretty much like Glennon of 2013, unable to sustain drives. I know Mike Kafka is a training camp body with little to no chance of making the final 53 but my lord he's bad. Slow decision making, god awful accuracy, it truly was a shocking miracle any time he completed a pass.
The fourth down and goal touchdown pass was a chuck and duck as he got drilled throwing the ball. Thankfully, we probably shouldn't see him on the football field much longer.
3. Gerald McCoy is a man-beast. Okay, maybe we didn't learn that last night (we've known already) but if Buc fans have anything to really be excited about it's the play of number 93. McCoy gives this long time Bucs observer visions of a certain hall-of-fame defensive tackle who was the piston that made everything happen in Tony Dungy's Tampa Two.
4. I am a little concerned about McCoy's teammates. Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn were doing a decent job sealing the edge and containing the run but didn't show too many flashes of being able to be the edge rusher the Bucs desperately need them to be. Perhaps that's why the Bucs have begun trying reclamation projects like Larry English. Clinton McDonald looked good, penetrating and causing some disruption but he was really the lone assistant to McCoy.
5. The passing yards, especially by the second defensive unit was way too high. Yes, the Bucs were without ATV and Mike Jenkins, plus lost Rashaan Melvin early in the game but I didn't see the corners being victimized. The problems occurred between the safeties and middle linebackers. Both Mason Foster and Dane Fletcher bit on play action and failed to get proper depth on their drops in Cover Two, leaving wide open chunks in the middle of the field. Both Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore feasted on the Bucs linebackers and safeties in that 20-25 yard area.
They have to be better or teams with good slot receivers and/or tight ends will carve the Bucs up like thanksgiving turkey.
6. The Bucs are razor thin depth-wise on defense. There is a huge drop off from the starting 11 to the backups. Of course, it didn't help that William Gholston and Major Wright sustained injuries and the Bucs' second team was playing with corners who will likely be insurance salesmen and grocery baggers in a couple weeks but watching Matt Moore dissect the proud Bucs defense at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half was disturbing to say the least.
It's not a knock on Moore, who I've always thought of as a good backup and a decent starter but it's still disturbing to see the dominant Bucs defense look like it had no answers for him.
7. The Bucs once loaded backfield is starting to thin a bit. With Charles Simms lost for the majority of the season and now Mike James going down, the Bucs have Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey and Jeff Demps to handle the load. Martin looked to be rounding into form while Rainey was ineffective but had little blocking. Demps is fast but we're just not seeing that shiftiness or hands that made him a dynamic weapon at Florida.
I don't know if Tedford is hiding the Demps wheel routes and screens in games that we've seen them employ during the training camp practices but not seeing Demps on kickoff or punt returns is making me wonder if he will even make the squad. If James is out for a sustained period, perhaps.
8. It was good to see a sliver bit more of Jeff Tedford's offense. I like the uptempo style. I think we'll see the Bucs spread it out a bit more especially with ASJ and Timmy Wright in slot positions. With Evans (bonehead play aside) finally rounding into form, I think the makings are there for an offense that can score some points if the o-line can give McCown time to throw the football.
9. Maybe it's my Gator-bias coming out but I really like Solomon Patton as a kick and punt returner for this team. Patton won't give you much in the passing game but as a returner, the kid is blazing fast and seems to see the field very well. If anyone can be Lovie's Devin Hester, it's Patton.
10. Two weeks into the pre-season and the offense has managed 24 points and is averaging 249.5 yards a game. Coming off a season with the worst rated offense in the NFL, these numbers do not inspire confidence.
Yes, we still have the super-top secret Jeff Tedford playbook to look forward to. Yes, the up tempo should help, especially at home at 4:30 pm with the blazing Tampa sun. Yet the fact that the Bucs first team offense hasn't been able to consistently sustain drives has to be a bit concerning.
The Bucs keep pointing to the Week 3 match up against Buffalo as an accurate barometer of what this offense can be capable of. We'll see. Buffalo is another very solid front seven, similar to the ones Tampa Bay will see in their first two weeks of the football season. If Tampa Bay struggles moving the ball on Buffalo, we may be seeing true Buc Ball returning to Raymond James this year, with Tampa Bay forced to win games 12-9 and 16-10.