It didn’t go as many hoped, with the Bucs dropping a 16-10 preseason contest to the Jaguars, but Tampa Bay still have nearly a month to get things tightened up before the Panthers come to Raymond James Stadium to open the season in September.
PewterReport.com took a look at all the individual units and assigned grades based on their play. See if you agree in this weekly post game feature.
QUARTERBACKSStarter Josh McCown didn’t have the start to the preseason he, his coaches or the fans wanted. Under tremendous pressure from the very first drive, McCown never looked comfortable in the pocket and made a terrible decision throwing a late and high floating ball over the middle, that the Jaguars took back for a touchdown, putting Tampa Bay down 7-0 in the first quarter. McCown finished his Buccaneers debut 2-of-4 for 20 yards with an interception and two fumbles.
Mike Glennon relieved McCown in the second quarter and played into the second half but wasn’t a whole lot more effective until the fourth quarter when he led the Buccaneers on their lone TD drive of the night. Glennon put the Bucs in the end zone with a six-yard TD pass to Tommy Streeter. The former Wolfpack standout finished the night 11-of-19 for 140 yards.
Mike Kafka took over with a few minutes left in the fourth quarter but was unable to engineer a game-winning TD drive.GRADE= C
RUNNING BACKSDoug Martin, like McCown, struggled, with much of it due to poor offensive line play, finding very little room to run. The best performer of the night at running back belonged to second-year Bucs RB Bobby Rainey. With 25 yards on six carries, Rainey led all Bucs in rushing.
Third-round draft pick Charles Sims, who showed good vision and the ability to bounce the running plays outside when the interior was clogged, only officially had 13 yards rushing but had at least two good runs called back because of penalties. Sims also managed three receptions for 32 yards against Jacksonville. Mike James finished with 12 yards on three carries, while Jeff Demps added four yards on two rushes.GRADE= C
WIDE RECEIVERSBucs wide receivers were held in check for the most part although former Gators receiver Louis Murphy did manage three receptions for 43 yards to lead the Bucs wideouts. Veteran Vincent Jackson only played a few series and had one catch for 18 yards, Rookie Robert Herron notched one reception for 10 yards and Tommy Streeter had a six-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter. Rookie first-round pick Mike Evans was held without a catch.GRADE= C
TIGHT ENDSThe Bucs tight ends struggled in the first half with rookie Austin Seferian-Jenkins dropping a perfect strike from Glennon in the second quarter and also committed two holding penalties on Friday evening. Seferian-Jenkins was better in the second half, including notching the longest reception of the night, but a holding penalty negated the big gain. The rookie tight end finished with two catches for 29 yards. Second-year tight end Tim Wright showed up on the stat sheet with just one reception for six yards and also had a drop in the game. No other Bucs tight ends registered a catch in the game against the Jaguars.GRADE= D
OFFENSIVE LINETo say the offensive line struggled would be an understatement. From the opening snap, the first team line was blown off the ball, created little running room for the running backs, and committed costly penalties that stalled drives and resulted in turnovers. Even the dependable veteran Demar Dotson wasn’t immune to the poor play, get caught holding in the first quarter, a penalty that negated a first down throw by McCown. The second team line played a little better, but for the most part, the unit that most people feared would be the weak link, unfortunately proved the skeptics correct.GRADE= D-
DEFENSIVE LINEUnlike the offensive line that disappointed, the Buccaneers defensive line was as advertised – fast, quick off the ball, and constantly hurrying the Jaguars quarterbacks throughout much of the game. Gerald McCoy got things started with a tackle for loss on the very first play of the game and was nearly unblockable in the few series the Pro Bowler played in. Other standout defensive linemen were Da’Quan Bowers, Steven Means and Adrian Clayborn, all who were a disrupting force on Friday night. The line also showed a lot of hustle, chasing ballcarriers down from the backside and swarming to the ball all night. As bad as the offensive line was, the defensive line was just the opposite. The only negative was a roughing the passer call on Akeem Spence who hit Jags QB Blake Bortles very late.GRADE= A
LINEBACKERSLavonte David and Mason Foster played sparingly but when in the game performed well and were very physical. Many wondered about the depth at the position but some questions were answered as backups Danny Lansanah and Dane Fletcher played well in reserve roles. Both players appeared to be in position and understood their assignments for the most part. While not perfect, the play of the second and third team linebackers will undoubtedly make Smith and general manager Jason Licht sleep a little better.GRADE= A-
SECONDARYOverall the secondary played well, limiting the Jaguars passing offense to just 180 yards through the air. The one thing that will frustrate Smith and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was a lack of interceptions. Tampa Bay had a number of opportunities throughout the game to notch a turnover via an interception but could never quite secure the ball when it was in the air. And this was without starters Alterraun Verner, Mike Jenkins and Dashon Goldson in the lineup. Major Wright played well in relief of Goldson, but had a chance at a first half interception but let the ball slip through his hands. Johnthan Banks and Leonard Johnson both had solid games on Friday night as did safeties Bradley McDougald and Keith Tandy.GRADE=B+
SPECIAL TEAMSTampa Bay’s plethora of kick returners did nothing to sort out who will be the primary punt and kickoff return man once the season starts. Jeff Demps made two questionable decisions in the game, coming from deep in the end zone while returning kickoffs, but with it being preseason, and trying to win the job may have had some bearing on his decision-making. Former Gator Solomon Patton had the best return of the night, going 31 yards on his only opportunity to return a kick. To be fair, the blocking with the kickoff return game was poor with a number of Jaguar players running free and barely being touched. On the night the returners averaged just 21.5 yards per kickoff return.
Connor Barth connected on his only field goal attempt, grooving a 44-yarder straight down the middle to get the Bucs on the board in the first half and Michael Koenen and Patrick Murray both punted well for Tampa Bay. The Bucs coverage teams did a great job keeping Jacksonville in check.GRADE=C
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com
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