What else did we learn from this week's game?
1. I'm not sure if the Bucs defense is that good or Buffalo's offense is that bad but the performance the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put on the field Saturday afternoon warmed the cockles of this ole pewter and red heart. Was that Warren Sapp blasting through the middle of the Bills defensive line? No, it was Gerald McCoy. Was that Derrick Brooks blazing across the field and stripping CJ Spiller of the football? Nope, that was Lavonte David. Was that Simeon Rice pressuring from the edge? By gosh, it was Michael Johnson. And was that John Lynch laying the wood and picking off passes? Hey, that's actually Dashon Goldson!
It was what the Bucs will need for at least the first part of the season. The Defense leading the way, setting up the plate for the offense. Now, of course the Bucs defense certainly wasn't facing the Saints this week. EJ Manuel is barely serviceable as an NFL QB and until they left their one's in against Tampa Bay's second and third string defense, they hadn't scored a touchdown with their first string all pre-season.
Still, it was an offense the Bucs defense should dominate and they did.
2. Oh the tricky Bucs offense. They were facing a front seven very similar to the one they will be taking on against Carolina and St. Louis. It was a little rough on the first two drives with an ugly three-and-out that included another McCown sack/fumble (thankfully recovered by Omameh) and on the second drive McCown throwing an interception after Brandon Myers got tackled by the turf monster. The Bucs then settled down, Doug Martin had a few nice runs, the line gave McCown a pocket that he could maneuver in and Tampa Bay generated 17 points and 151 of their 231 yds of total offense.
The Bucs' first team offense capped the decent performance with an impressive 11 play, 82 yard drive finished off with Mike Evans breaking ankles on a double move and leaving a wide open target that Josh McCown hit perfectly in stride for a 24 yard touchdown.
No, the offense certainly won't make anyone forget Peyton Manning and the Broncos but at least they showed they can compete against a solid defensive front.
3. The offensive line...meh. Anthony Collins got whipped again for another sack while the running backs rarely had rushing lanes. Oneil Cousins is still god awful and Omameh wasn't much better (although he did make a nice seal block on a 13 yard first quarter run). With Omameh there's hope. With Cousins, there's an SOS signal being written in the sand. And what is the deal with Anthony Collins giving up a sack a ballgame? That's not what Tampa Bay is paying him oodles of money for.
There's still some jelling to do on the o-line and if the Bucs can't find an answer soon (paging Mr. Boone...Mr. Boone you have a call from Tampa) it may be an Achilles heel all season.
4. Maybe it's just me but I'm not getting the hype on Chris Owusu. Yes, the Bucs' anointed slot receiver made 2 receptions for 17 yards but he just doesn't flash to me. Nothing about Owusu screams special. He's a younger Tiquan Underwood with better hair.
5. We saw a bit of the screen game this week with the offense and needless to say it needs a bit more work. Give credit where credit is due, Buffalo's defense recognized screen and got off their blocks to make a play but Tampa Bay needs to do a lot better job of blocking the attempts. I can see the potential of it, especially getting speedsters like Herron and Demps out in space, but if they're getting hit as soon as they get the football, it's going to struggle.
6. Solomon Patton, you can call for a fair catch. I will give him kudos for holding on to the football after receiving a monstrous crunch. Patton is by far the best returner on the Bucs roster and should make the team.
7. The offensive line woes are neutering the Bucs' running game. Tampa Bay managed 99 yds on the ground but subtract QB Josh McCown's 21 yds rushing and the Bucs averaged a horrid 2.1 yards a carry. That's not on the backs, who looked good when they actually weren't getting hit as soon as they received the football. The Bucs offensive line has to get better at the point of attack or Tampa Bay will struggle running the football all season.
8. My first Jeff Tedford gripe. Why in the heck do we keep running 5 foot nothing Jeff Demps into the center of the line like he's Mike Alstott? It's not going to work, he's not that kind of back and sooner or later he will get banged up. Demps needs to be in space, where he can use his speed and shiftiness to hurt some defenses. Speaking of Demps, you need to come up with that pass if it hits your hands Mr. Olympian.
9. Mike Glennon has not had a very good pre-season, in my opinion. He needed to be lights out to take the job away from McCown. We needed to see some Brady or Manning or hell, Blake Bortles in him. Instead we received Mike Glennon. He hasn't done anything to make me believe he's the quarterback of the future, none-the-less the now. I see some improvements in going through his reads a bit faster, but he's still not delivering the ball with authority or accuracy and he was nearly picked off a few times.
10. You can only take so much out of the third pre-season game. In the Bucs' Super Bowl season, Steve Spurrier's Washington Redskins embarrassed the Bucs in the third pre-season game. The Bucs went on to win the Super Bowl, Spurrier went to South Carolina. With that said, after watching the Bucs and the Panthers performance in their respective games I came away with this thought: Carolina reminds me a lot of Buffalo, very strong defensively but putrid on offense. The Bucs I think can play with the Division Champs and I feel much more optimistic about that game than I did a couple weeks ago.
One last note, no 10 Things next week. I don't think we can learn much from watching backups beat up on backups. We'll be back following the Bucs-Panthers smackdown week one.