There were plenty of positives to take away from Friday night’s preseason game between the Buccaneers and Steelers. Ronald Jones looked like a transformed player, the offense was clicking, the run defense was stout. All great things the team can continue to build on.
There was, however, a glaring issue that the Buccaneers have dealt with for as long back as many of us can remember - penalties.
Although it seemed pretty even and that there was a flag on every other play, the Bucs finished with fourteen penalties for 112 yards. Granted, the Steelers had ten penalties for 74 yards, but that doesn’t excuse some of the boneheaded mistakes the Bucs made.
One penalty - defensive holding on Rakeem Nunez-Roches - negated an interception by Vernon Hargreaves early in the game. It was a big redemption play for Hargreaves - following being beat for a 43-yard reception by James Washington on the Steelers’ first drive - that ended up being all for naught.
There were holds, an illegal formation on a kickoff, an illegal double-team block on a kick return. It was all reminiscent of the undisciplined teams we’ve seen in the past. That’s not Bruce Arians’ style. Surely the team will hear about how inexcusable those mistakes were and some players will likely find themselves on the chopping block if it continues.
Arians has spoken numerous times about his “accountability board” where he puts up players’ names and their infractions for all to see. It makes the player more accountable for their actions and leads the team to holding one another more accountable. As Arians has said before, players end up fearing having their names put on that board.
This is nothing to panic over or over analyze. Quite simply, it’s a learning opportunity. The Bucs have three more preseason games to get these kinks out before the real games begin. I expect to see drastic improvement next week against the Miami Dolphins, but the coaches need to stress this moving forward until the players are no longer making such silly mistakes. As we saw on Friday, it can make or break a game.