The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-21 in the second week of the 2016 NFL preseason. It was a close game, especially in the end, but Tampa Bay's backups managed to pull a victory out of the fire in the end.
The Bucs started off pretty terribly, leaving the first quarter with a 7-0 deficit, zero completed passes, one interception, and one missed field goal (*cough* Roberto Aguayo *cough*). That didn't last very long, though: by the half, they were leading 17-14, with a beautiful Jameis Winston touchdown throw to Mike Evans as the main highlight. A nice Vernon Hargreaves interception and a whole bunch of Jacksonville penalties helped them get there.
The second half featured a lot of exciting football, too The Bucs and Jaguars initially exchanged a bunch of punts, as both receiving corps struggled to catch the ball consistently and both teams tried to heavily lean on the run. Storm Johnson produced a few nice runs for the Bucs, while Vernon Hargreaves notched his second interception of the game at the start of the third quarter. A Storm Johnson touchdown then extended the Bucs' lead at the start of the fourth quarter, while a nice pick by Johnthan Banks seemed to seal the deal -- except Ryan Griffin gave Josh Johnson a pick six and the Jaguars a way back into the game.
That pick six ultimately wasn't enough, though, and the Bucs mostly ran out the clock the rest of the way to come away with the 27-21 win, adding a fourth(!) interception, this one by Ryan Smith, before taking a few knees.
Of course, these preseason games aren't so much about the actual result as they are about evaluating individual players. That's what the coaches and general managers around the league are doing, so let's take a look at the main takeaways from this game.
Jameis Winston was up and down
The Bucs quarterback started off with some absolutely terrible football. He missed a few throws high and wide, was short on an out route, and didn't complete a single pass on his first two drives -- except for the interception that, to be fair, did at least hit Cameron Brate right in the hands. That made for an ugly statline of 0 completions on 6 attempts, with one interception.
But then the second quarter rolled around, and Winston corrected all of his mistakes. He hit receivers in the hands with his first four throws, producing three catches, 28 yards, a Mike Evans touchdown. Cameron Brate couldn't hang on to his would-be touchdown pass, or the line would have looked even better. The touchdown pass was his last of the game, as Mike Glennon took over from there.
Vernon Hargreaves making plays
Vernon Hargreaves had a pretty good second preseason game. He didn't show up much in his first game, except for a dropped interception, but he looked fully acclimated to the NFL tonight. He was still with the second team, but produced two interceptions and was constantly around the ball. His first interception in particular was a thing of beauty. Jude Adjei-Barimah has been having a good preseason, too, but it'll be tough to keep Hargreaves off the field if he keeps making plays like this.
Vernon Hargreaves will make you pay...— NFL (@NFL) August 21, 2016
The @TBBuccaneers rookie CB comes up with a big INT! #TBvsJAX https://t.co/TNuN4ipj5U
Roberto Aguayo is struggling
The Bucs were supposed to have drafted a hyper-accurate kicker, someone who'd never missed a kick under 40 yards in his college career. Five minutes into his first preseason, Aguayo had attempted three kicks, all of them under 40 yards, and two of them misses. His kickoffs have also been thoroughly meh. None of this is good -- but at least there was still time to turn it around.
Aguayo appeared to do just that during the rest of the game. He hit all three of his attempts in the second quarter, two extra points (also known as 33-yard, one-point field goals) and a 28-yarder. He added another extra point and a 34-yarder in the fourth quarter, and now has hit six of his eight preseason kicks under 40 yards. He killed all the good vibes by missing a 49-yard attempt, though. Aguayo is struggling -- and that's not what you want out of your second-round kicker.
The offensive line looks just fine
Okay, the Jacksonville Jaguars don't have the best defensive line, but Jameis Winston had all the time he needed in the pocket. Kevin Pamphile held up just fine at left guard, which is likely where he'll have to start the first five games of the season, and Donovan Smith did well at left tackle after a rough outing against the Eagles. In fact, the Bucs didn't give up a sack all game, and that wasn't just because the quarterbacks did a good job of getting rid of the ball. The running game, too, looked good, despite the fact that Doug Martin was held out with a minor injury.
Peyton Barber and Mike James are battling it out
The Bucs don't have a lot of outright position battles going on, but one of the closest ones is being fought for the third-string running back spot. With Doug Martin sitting out the game with a minor injury, the backups got a lot of playing time to win that third spot.
Rookie Peyton Barber is taking on veteran Mike James, and both of them looked good tonight. Barber got the bulk of the carries, with 11 for 40 yards spread out over the entire game, and a catch for 10 yards. James had two catches for 11 yards and six carries for 17 yards -- less impressive statistically, but he looked good on the field. Storm Johnson also pushed for some extra playing time, producing 27 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and adding two catches for 28 yards -- but he's almost certainly going to be the odd man out.
The Bucs' pass-rush looked dominant last week, but it was nowhere to be found against the Jaguars. Sure, Jacksonville's offensive line is better than Philadelphia's, but there was more going on than that. For one, Gerald McCoy was out with injury, and that visibly hurt the team -- there was barely any disruption on the inside. For two, rookie Noah Spence didn't get on the field much, possibly because the Jaguars went with a lot of run-heavy formations. Spence is easily the team's most disruptive edge rusher, which is certainly an impressive statement for a rookie. The fact that the Bucs couldn't touch Bortles without McCoy and Spence in the game is pretty worrying, though.
Evan Spencer had to leave the game with a knee injury
The receiver was struggling for a roster spot, and this injury may be very serious -- he was announced as out for the game shortly after his injury. We'll have more details on that over the next few days. It also looked like Keith Tandy suffered a concussion late in the fourth quarter. He had to come off the field, but the Bucs didn't announce anything official.