The Buccaneers secured their first victory of the 2016 pre-season with a 27-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was the first win of the Dirk Koetter era (albeit pre-season) and yes, it feels nice that Tampa Bay has a W but there was a lot to diatribe about this week.
1. Roberto Aguayo. You know everyone will be piling on this poor kid this week. He didn't ask for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to draft him in the 2nd round, he just wanted to kick in the NFL, so this pick is on Jason Licht. If anyone should be feeling heat on this selection, it's him. Now, with that said, Aguayo could shut everyone up if he'd just consistently put the ball between the uprights. He hasn't kicked in a regular season game yet so officially, he hasn't missed a kick in the NFL. Maybe he's just trying stuff out. Maybe having different holders every other kick is messing up his rhythm. Or maybe he's just not as good as advertised. Whatever it is, he needs to get it out of his system and quick. The Bucs can't afford to replace him (you don't give up on a 2nd round pick in his first camp) and they can't afford to lose games because of him. Hopefully he gets the yips out in the next few weeks and is money from Week One of the regular season on. My confidence, though, is beginning to fade on this kid.
2. I honestly don't know what was up with Jameis this week. Too many friends on the opposing sideline causing a distraction? The Jacksonville hot air deflated the ball? Or he just plain had a bad night. Whatever it was, it was a surprisingly terrible performance from #3. It wasn't even as if he was getting constant pressure. He essentially had a clean pocket and time to throw. He was just...off. One last thing, for the love God, learn how to slide, Jameis. You're a baseball player for crying out loud, you should know how to do that! He doesn't need to be taking those types of his, especially in the pre-season. Winston finally did heat up on his last try and threw a dime to Mike Evans in the end zone to get the Bucs on the board.
Hopefully, that meant if he would have continued to play, he would eventually have shaken off the rough start.
3. The defense was not very good tonight. Yes, they held the Jacksonville Jaguars to just 209 yards of total offense and 14 offensive points. Yes, they forced four turnovers and shutout the Jacksonville offense in the second half (the Jags only points came off a pick six). However, when future UPS truck drivers and store clerks weren't on the field, the Bucs' defense was being pwned by Blake Bortles and the Jags offense.
Now, that's not a shocking thing - this just in - the Jags are pretty good on offense. Still, the optimism of the dominance of the defense in Philly wasn't quite the same in Jacksonville. The pass rush wasn't as potent and didn't get to Bortles once. The secondary was a bit more leaky. The run defense was giving up 5 and 7 yard chunks like they were facing Adrian Peterson. Then there's the red zone defense. Tampa Bay's starting unit went ohfer in the red zone yet again. That's not good defense, folks and it will need to get a lot better before opening day. Matty Ice, Julio Jones and Devonte Freeman will be licking their chops.
4. With that said, hats off to Vernon Hargreaves III, or VH3 as I've called him since his days as a Gator. Two picks this week, he nearly had one in Philly. This kid has a nose for the football. While Verner, Grimes and Jude Adjei-Barimah are all playing very solid football for the Bucs, its going to be tough to keep the Bucs first round pick off the field.
5. The offensive line (with the exception of Demar Dotson on the first drive of the game) looked worlds better this week. They were able to open holes in the run game for the Bucs' backs and Jameis, for the most part, was kept clean. In fact, Jacksonville didn't really touch a Bucs' QB until the fourth quarter when they started blitzing Ryan Griffin. Thank goodness the bunch of baggage handlers and janitors playing o-line in the fourth quarter won't be on the 53 man roster come September 11.
6. I'm not sure whose going to win that third running back gig for the Bucs. Peyton Barber, Storm Johnson, Mike James and Russell Hansborough each took turns impressing the coaches this week. Behind a suspect 3rd string line, many of these guys made something out of nothing. If I was a betting man, I'd say Barber may have the best upside of the quartet - but its hard to count out the hard charging James or the shifty Johnson or the elusive Hansborough. I just don't know...and I bet the Bucs coaches aren't too sure who to keep either.
7. Man, poor Kenny Bell can't catch a break can he? It looked like he was finally going to get his goose egg cracked when he made a precise route and Mike Glennon delivered the football in stride. Then Kenny got his, ahem, bell rung. A vicious hit from a Jacksonville defender dislodged the football and sent both players to the concussion protocol. I think I saw Bell in for one or two more plays and that was about it. Felt bad for him, he did nothing wrong there. No one could have held onto that football after that violent collision. That was an old school John Lynchian thump.
8. Bernard Reedy's speed really intrigues me. Its an element that none of the other Bucs (with the exception of Kenny Bell) possess. His small size may prevent him from being on the 53, but man, he's making it hard to ignore him. He's got better hands than Dontae Dye and he's pretty fearless.
9. Yes, we all thought the same thing when Austin Sefarian-Jenkins was belted into the Jacksonville turf. Oh no, Mr. Glass is hurt again. ASJ got up slowly and headed toward the sideline but thankfully wasn't seriously injured. He did show he has some DB skills in batting a ball away from his teammate Russell Shepard, who was poised to pull in his second touchdown in as many weeks.
ASJ is so far down the depth chart right now, I honestly don't know what to make of him. There was a report from Joe Bucs Fan that even Jameis lit into ASJ for half-assing a play in practice during the week. The kid has million dollar skillset and a nickel brain. Such a shame.
10. Congrats to coach Koetter on his first victory as a head coach in the NFL. No, it doesn't really count, but its still a milestone for the rookie coach. Even if this game amounted to the Bucs' depth being better than the Jaguars depth, it was still a hard fought ballgame with many twists and turns. It had a little bit of everything. Its good to feel what its like to have a victory, even if its a fake one.
Bonus - I'm still waiting to see what's so special about Ryan Griffin.