Penalties proved to be an issue on both sides of the ball for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early in this game. Head Coach Dirk Koetter can’t possibly be pleased with the lack of discipline and the quantity of penalties on both sides of the football. Offensively, the line appeared over matched at times and ill-equipped to combat the Titans pass rush. On defense there were multiple issues from assignments and attack angles to penalties of their own on that side of the ball.
With the Tennessee Titans second team offense on the field, Tampa Bay was walloped the defense on a second down run. The following play new addition Vinny Curry comes up with a sack that should have forced a fourth down punt, instead the team stays on the field thanks to a Kwon Alexander penalty. Kwon had a very rough game overall, playing a role on the 47 yard screen pass that went for a touchdown. Justin Evans took a poor angle to the ball as well on that play to ensure 6 for Tennessee.
Offensively, the line struggled to block Harold Landry on a wide open touchdown pass from Winston’s hand and in turn, got called for a holding penalty while trying to buy Winston time to complete the pass. Penalties were a bloom for the team on both sides but that wasn’t the only concerning part of the game early on. After the offense pulls together a 19 yard pass from Winston to Jackson, the stretch run follow up play was blown up in the backfield and effectively helped derail another drive. Playcalling and play execution were up for debate again early on in this game with the ones and twos. Receivers had several drops for starter Ryan Fitzpatrick who ended up going 5-13 in limited action. On a bright now, Winston did connect for a nice deep ball with Jackson, a play Bucs fans are hoping to see much more of in 2018. Winston did pull off one of his signature (and always controversial) heaves for a touchdown pass with defenders all around Chris Godwin. For anyone contemplating whether the team should roll with Fitzpatrick if he plays well through three games, Winston has simply looked to be on a completely different comfort level with the offense through two pre-season games. Closing out the half with a 21 yard touchdown pass to rookie Justin Watson was the icing on the cake for Winston. He’s on another level at the moment and there should be zero questions as to whether he will take the job as soon as his suspension is up.
The running game struggled to produce in the 1st half, totaling less than 50 yards on the ground capitalized by a bundled 2nd and 1 stretch play that needed a loss. Backs being hit in the backfield proved to be a common theme, in particular for Ronald Jones in tonight’s game. Peyton Barber did manage to shine with a nice 18 yard run to net him 32 yards on 6 carries for the night.
The kicking game from Catanzaro looked solid in this game, nailing two kicks on one drive thanks to a penalty and showed plenty of leg and accuracy in this game. Catanzaro also made a case for the linebacker job with his stop on a kick return, showing his teammates how to get the job done.
M.J. Stewart made a great play punching out a ball and causing a turnover to get the ball back to Jameis and the offense late in the 2nd quarter. One of the lone highlights out of the defensive backfield in the first half. As the first half came to a close, despite penalties, the Buccaneers managed to control the game and took a solid lead into the half.
The second half was filled with backups for both teams as expected in the second game of the preseason. Bucs quarterback Ryan Griffin struggled to find consistency with the offense and the defense played as expected for a group fighting to make a roster. Griffin did put together a nice throw to running back Dare Ogunbowale for a 38 yard gain down the sideline. Griffin followed it up with an over the top touchdown toss for 21 yards.
Overall I must say that myself and fans alike should be pleased with what they saw from Jameis Winston and the receivers as a whole working to get open. Some early drops dampened what may have been a more explosive first half through the air but none the less the passing attack got the job done and some. Justin Watson impressed, Mike Evans impressed, Jackson, Godwin Brate and OJ Howard who did have a drop all caught balls and helped drive the passing attack for both quarterbacks. The offensive line has some work to do before week one and the running game needs to find consistency to help balance out the offensive attack. Defensively the team needs to tighten up their coverage and discipline and get the ball carrier down. The kicking game was solid and some which at this point is all fans are asking for. It was a good overall game for the second game of the pre-season and should be a reason for fans to possibly show some optimism for this season being a turnaround year. As always, Go Bucs!