The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in their second preseason game, though it was a close affair. Tampa Bay started out iffy, but dominated most of the game starting in the second quarter. As usual, though, the result is a lot less important than the quality of play. Coaches and executives use preseason games to evaluate individual players. Those who stand out can earn a roster or practice squad spot, while those that disappoint tend to disappear from the NFL.
So with that in mind, here are our four winners and four losers from last night's game.
Hargreaves may still mainly be playing with the second team, he had one heck of a game last night. Not only did he notch two interceptions, both of them showing off his athleticism and feeling for coverage, he was also constantly around the ball when he was on the field. He didn't notch any official tackles, but that looks like a charting error to me. Hargreaves won't be off the field for long with play like that.
Seferian-Jenkins has been working hard to earn back his starting spot, and his three catches for 36 yards on three targets will help him get back on the field with the first team. One of those catches was an outstanding feat of athleticism, the kind of catch no other tight end on the team's roster can make. Meanwhile, first-stringer Cameron Brate had zero catches on three targets, with two of those hitting him right in the hands -- and one bouncing off for an interception. Brate's saving grace is his reliability as a pass-catcher, but if he loses that, Seferian-Jenkins is going to get on the field ahead of him.
The Bucs' pass rush was almost entirely absent on Saturday, in large part because Gerald McCoy missed the game with a minor injury. The fact that Noah Spence barely got on the field didn't exactly help, either -- the Jaguars spent most of the game in run-heavy formations that forced Tampa Bay to keep Spence on the bench. Without their top two pass rushers, the team's previously outstanding pass rush simply couldn't get close to Bortles. That's a testament to McCoy's importance, as well as Spence's potential.
Evan Smith and Kevin Pamphile
The Bucs gave Evan Smith the start at center ahead of Joe Hawley, while Kevin Pamphile continued to fill in for left guard J.R. Sweezy. Both of them played well, and the offensive line as a whole looked close to dominant even without Doug Martin on the field. The Bucs were especially strong in pass protection, though Jameis Winston struggled to turn that protection into more than sporadic production. The Bucs have plenty of depth along the offensive line.
When your second-round kicker misses two of his three field goal attempts, including his first 40+- yarder, you're going to have a bad time. Aguayo did hit all three of his extra points as well as a 33-yard field goal, but he hasn't been the reliably accurate kicker the Bucs expected to draft. He also hasn't been all that special on kickoffs. There's still plenty of time for him to turn it around -- kickers will miss some kicks, after all -- but so far, he hasn't represented an improvement over Connor Barth.
Two targets, zero catches. Bell has now played four preseason games and has yet to make a catch. His lack of physicality continues to stand out: as soon as contact comes into play, Bell just struggles to make any kind of play, He looked to have a touchdown catch, but contact knocked the ball out of his hands. He almost had another catch on a slant, but Ryan Griffin led him straight to the safety, and Bell couldn't hang on. He has to make those plays if he wants to make the roster -- and Bell just can't.
Winston had six attempts in the first quarter, completing exactly none of them, and turning one into an interception -- though that was mostly because it bounced right off Cameron Brate's hands. Winston did bounce back in the second quarter, completing three of his four attempts for 28 yards and a touchdown -- and his one incompletion also hit Brate in the hands. Still, though, this was a disappointing and largely inaccurate outing for WInston. It was, in fact, another one of his slow starts -- and those are something he's going to have to eliminate if the Bucs want to consistently win games this year.
Shepard made a good case for getting the team's third receiver job last week, but he struggled to do much of anything against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He didn't catch a single pass (one target), and added a six-yard end-around -- and that's it, even though he got playing with both the ones and the twos. If he wants to be the team's number three receiver, he's going to have to show the Bucs more in the third preseason game.