The fourth and final preseason game is officially in the books, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 25-10. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see Jalen Ramsey matchup against Mike Evans, but we saw other players fighting for jobs.
The Buccaneers finished 2-2 this preseason and just by the eye test have looked much better than they did this time last year. One thing that I have noticed throughout the preseason has been that overall, the Buccaneers special teams were performing much better.
During the regular season last year, Tampa Bay was consistently terrible on special teams. From kickoffs, to field goals, to kick coverage, it was all wildly inconsistent.
Part of the problem was that their kickers last year, both Nick Folk and Patrick Murray didn’t have the leg power to get touchbacks or put the opposing team in difficult situations. In fact, Tampa Bay ranked 31st in the league in touchbacks with only 27 last season. With new kicker Chandler Catanzaro handling kicker duties, in the previous three games this preseason, the Buccaneers were tied for first with 11 touchbacks.
Heading into Thursday night’s game, Buccaneer opponents had returned the ball on seven separate occasions this preseason and Tampa Bay has handled all of them considerably well. The team ranked fifth in average return yards allowed with 27.4.
Again, it’s a subtle thing, but special teams are extremely important in this league and can often win and lose football games. The field goal kicking situation is still to be determined, but add in the Adam Humphries 109 yard return and I think the Buccaneers have shown signs of a strong special teams unit all around.