In what has to be the most boring football game I have ever watched, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to Washington,24-10. The Bucs' offense was a disaster, while their defense was..yeah, pretty disastrous too.
It was a fourth preseason game, so the starters didn't get on the field for either team, and the Bucs even pulled most of their top backups after just one drive. So it's hardly a surprise they looked bad. Jeff Demps was asked to carry the running game all by himself for basically the entire game, and that didn't go all that well. Mike Kafka isn't a good quarterback either, surprisingly. And the defense struggled against Washington's backups throughout the game, though the Bucs did have a lot of injuries on defense.
That all led to some ugly plays, but none as ugly as an 80-yard Lache Seastrunk catch and run in the third quarter, where no one on the Bucs' defense seemed to want to touch him. Or more charitably, Seastrunk outran everyone's tackling angles. Solomon Patton put up the Bucs' only touchdown of the day, on a sideline pass from Mike Kafka, who struggled for most of the game.
But the final score isn't really what matters: the position battles are the core of the preseason. So let's get to our observations on those.
Rishaw Johnson probably won't start at right guard
We had some hope that Rishaw Johson would look good and grab hold of the starting right guard spot. The Bucs traded for the guard last week, and this was his first game action. Unfortunately, he gave up a sack on his first pass protection rep. He didn't look particularly bad the rest of the game, but he looked nowhere near good enough to really grab hold of a starting job.
Reinforcing that is the fact that Patrick Omameh got one series, and then didn't play again the rest of the game. That's exactly what happened with every starter who did get reps, and every solidly-entrenched backup. Which means we're almost certainly going to see Omameh start at least the regular season opener.
Louis Murphy injured
Only one significant injury in the game, but it was a nasty one: Louis Murphy was held up in the air, suplexed to the ground and then hit while on the ground. Egregious play, and he injured his back on those hits. Murphy was the team's most productive backup receiver this preseason and looked like he could very well be a contributor this offseason, especially with Chris Owusu and Robert Herron both struggling to put up catches during the preseason. Murphy didn't return to the game, which is not goo, but Jason Licht did say that x-rays came back negative and they're hopeful he'll be okay.
Robert Herron is explosive, but raw
Rookie receiver Robert Herron has struggled to put up production in the preseason and had an uneven training camp, but there's no denying that he has speed and could be an explosive weapon, if the Bucs find a way to use him properly, and he improves his hands. One play epitomized his preseason so far: he ran by the Washington defenders, got open by a couple of yards -- and then made a poor adjustment to a tough ball, and failed to make the catch.
If he improves on the details, Herron could be a pretty good player down the line. But he's a little too raw to play a large role immediately.
Ronald Talley looks good
Ronald Talley had a good show as a backup three-technique behind Matthew Masifilo, getting into the backfield repeatedly. The veteran defensive lineman primarily played in 3-4 schemes in the past, but seems like a good fit in Tampa. It's not clear whether he will actually make the roster given that he's behind Masifilo, but his performance won't hurt his chances.
Patrick Murray can kick
Patrick Murray didn't get many opportunities to beat out Connor Barth, but he did get one -- and he took full advantage of it, nailing a 35-yard field goal and then booting a kickoff out of the endzone. Murray has basically been flawless in preseason, and he costs less than one-sixth of Connor Barth's salary. I don't know whether the Bucs plan to move on from Barth, but Murray has done everything he can to help them do it.
Jeff Demps may have made the roster
Jeff Demps got a lot of play this game. A lot. I mean, they basically ran him into the ground, play after play after play. Not that they had a backup running back behind him to give other carries too, but still. He held up reasonably well behind a bad offensive line and got some chances as a kick returner too. We even got some glimpses of those explosive plays he's capable of in the third quarter. He looked tough as an inside runner, and speedy in the open field. He did fumble the ball once, but he probably did enough to make the roster.
Danny Lansanah was all over the field
Don't be surprised if Danny Lansanah gets significant playing time during the regular season. He's been all over the field in all four preseason games, and has looked pretty good throughout. He managed several tackles for loss today, and tipped a pass in the air for a crucial endzone interception. This probably isn't good enough to earn a starting job, but the team may find some ways to get him and his explosive athleticism on the field in specialized packages.
The Bucs have to cut down to a 53-man roster by Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET. They'll get started on that process tomorrow after reviewing today's film. We'll cover all of that for you.