It’s time for PewterReport.com’s 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game. Tampa Bay lost its first preseason game, 33-30, at home against Detroit. The starters and second-stringers built a 27-6 lead before the third-stringers blew it at the end.

2 BIG STATEMENTS

STATEMENT 1: Humphries To The House
If you are one of the few Bucs fans who wondered why the Buccaneers value wide receiver Adam Humphries so much, he showed you on Friday night with a 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown right before half. In a play dubbed “kick-six,” Detroit attempted a 62-yard field goal, and given the distance of the kick, the Bucs put a man back in the end zone to catch the ball if it fell short.

Although that person was safety Chris Conte, and head coach Dirk Koetter wanted to make a switch, so he called a time out and inserted Humphries instead.

“I knew it was going to be short and I knew there was an opportunity to return it,” Humphries said. “We actually repped that in practice about two-and-a-half weeks ago. So, I’m glad Coach Koetter called a timeout and was able to get me in there and the defense did a great job blocking for me. So, it was awesome to get that in the end zone.

Bucs WR Adam Humphries - Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Bucs WR Adam Humphries – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

“It’s funny. The crowd kind of lets you know when you have it. I made a couple of cuts, got past the kicker, and I heard the crowd get real loud. I looked up at the videoboard when I was running in and saw it and there was just a bunch of white jerseys behind me. So, I knew there about the 20-yard line in that I had the touchdown.”

Humphries fielded the ball, took it out of the end zone, made the first Lions would-be tackler miss around the 15-yard line, got some great blocks, sidestepped a few more Lions and finished an incredible 109-yard jaunt into the end zone as time expired in the first half to give Tampa Bay a 20-6 lead.

“That fires everybody up,” Koetter said. “You’re always working on situational plays like that, because in the NFL they always come up. And to see those guys execute that, that was awesome.”

Koetter says that the Bucs have four starting wide receivers – and that includes Humphries

STATEMENT 2: Barber Primed For A Big Season
Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Todd Monken was at it again – engineering an early touchdown drive in the first quarter. This time it was running back Peyton Barber leading the way with five carries for 34 yards and capping off the scoring drive with a 14-yard touchdown that featured Barber’s patented wiggle jump-step and a broken tackle.

That’s right. The Bucs actually had a touchdown run longer than two yards, which is something they didn’t have a year ago.

Bucs RB Peyton Barber - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs RB Peyton Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

What was impressive about Barber running the ball on Friday night was that the Bucs only had two starting offensive linemen in the lineup – center Ryan Jensen and right tackle Demar Dotson. Left tackle Donovan Smith was injured in practice earlier in the week, and both starting guards – Ali Marpet and Caleb Benenoch – also sat out with minor injuries.

Barber, who has averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the first two preseason games, averaged 6.8 yards per carry against the Lions in limited duty. The Bucs used Alan Cross at fullback quite a bit on that first drive, serving as a lead blocker on several of Barber’s runs. That has proven to be successful, so look for Monken and head coach Dirk Koetter to make more use of Cross as a lead blocker during the regular season.

Barber’s preseason is over and it was incredibly efficient as he averaged 5.8 yards per carry while rushing for 87 yards on 15 carries and scoring two touchdowns. He enters the season as Tampa Bay’s undisputed starting running back.

“Peyton’s done a nice job and we’d initially planned to play him a little bit longer tonight but he played so well on that first drive and you do start to get a little bit paranoid the closer that you get,” said Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter. “Especially with our offensive line being a little banged up. We decided to pull him and I just told Peyton that I thought he’d done what he needed to do tonight and from now on we’ll just be getting him ready for New Orleans.”

2 PROBING QUESTIONS

QUESTION 1: Where Was Spence?
Bucs defensive end Noah Spence was hardly seen on Friday night. Early in training camp Spence was used as a situational pass rusher with the first team, as defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul would get kicked inside to defensive tackle next to Gerald McCoy.

But Spence has really struggled to get to the quarterback this preseason and has just half a sack. The Bucs didn’t play Spence at all in the first half and he saw extensive in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter.

The problem was that Spence, a former second-round pick, was struggling against Detroit’s third-string left tackle. Spence isn’t in danger of being cut is he? He’s actually had a good training camp and given left tackle Donovan Smith fits on occasion.

But Spence is kind of a one-trick pony that doesn’t play the run well. So if he isn’t rushing the passer well, how much value does he have to Tampa Bay? The guess here is that he needs to have a really good fourth preseason game on Thursday against Jacksonville.

QUESTION 2: Is Griffin Really This Good?
I’ll admit it. Tampa Bay’s third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin is winning me over. I’m a Griff believer.

No, he doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world. Nor does Griffin have ideal size at a lanky 6-foot-5, 210 pounds.

For you middle-aged Bucs fans, Griffin is Steve Walsh. He’s Craig Erickson. He’s Tim Rattay.

Coming off his third straight impressive preseason performance, Griffin may not be a great quarterback, but he’s a good enough quarterback to play in the NFL. On Friday night, Griffin was 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) for 100 yards and one touchdown with that scoring pass going to wide receiver Freddie Martino against Detroit’s first-team defense.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We pulled our (starters) at halftime just because of the conditions,” Koetter said. “We didn’t want them to sit and then have to go back out. I think the Lions left their starters in for another series or two. Griff’s really throwing the ball with touch. I’ve always had confidence – we’ve always had confidence – in Ryan. He just hasn’t been able to get that game experience preseason-wise. We know he’s going to be the backup for those first three games and I think that if he goes in their the guys will have confidence in him leading our team.”

Griffin has been rock steady through three preseason games. After completing 20-of-26 passes (76.9 percent) for 179 yards with a game-winning touchdown at Miami, Griffin completed 6-of-11 passes (54.5 percent) for 88 yards and a touchdown in a win at Tennessee. Through three games, Griffin has completed 34-of-48 passes (70.8 percent) for 367 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

Griffin is having the kind of preseason he envisioned having last year before a shoulder injury in the preseason opener at Cincinnati cost him half of the 2017 campaign.

“The one year wait was not fun,” Griffin said. “You play football to play football, not to watch. It’s been great to get out there and just play. It really renewed my love for the game. Getting out there with these guys has been a lot of fun. There have been a lot of guys that have stepped up and made plays.”

Griffin is one of them.

2 BOLD PREDICTIONS

PREDICTION 1: Barber Will Be A 1,000-Yard Rusher This Year
Going out on a limb? Not really. Have you seen Barber run the ball during the preseason? He’s a man on a mission and running with a great deal of power and confidence, so why can’t he run for 1,000 yards this year?

For a running back to hit 1,000 yards rushing he must average 62.5 yards per game. That’s totally doable. Barber would hit that with 13 carries per game if he averaged five yards per carry. With second-round pick Ronald Jones struggling to find his groove Barber should get 18-20 carries per game. Even averaging four yards per carry with 18 carries per game puts Barber over 1,000 yards.

Mark it down. It’s happening.

PREDICTION 2: Wilson Will Be The Bucs’ Kick Returner
Although the Bucs just watched Humphries return a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown against Detroit, undrafted rookie free agent Shaun Wilson made a statement as a kick return candidate. Wilson averaged 28.3 yards on four kick returns, the longest of which covered 39 yards.

Wilson also got a shot as a punt returner, fair catching a punt in the second half. Humphries will likely assume the punt return duties again – his 109-yard return was actually more like a punt return – unless DeSean Jackson is used in that capacity. Jackson actually fielded a punt Friday night, which was a bit of a surprise.

“We wanted to see Shaun and he couldn’t play in the Miami game and he didn’t get many opportunities in Tennessee last week,” Koetter said. “So tonight and Thursday, for a guy like him, are a good chance to get out there – not only in the return game, but as a running back as well. I think he showed well on himself tonight. That’s exactly the kind of guy we’re talking about with these final cuts.”

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

16 COMMENTS

  1. My prediction is that if the Bucs will be lucky to win four games this year if they can’t figure out how to stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. No way any other NFL team loses the way we lost to the Lions last night.
    Every season seems to be an endless series of great games with great highlights that the Bucs shoulda won, but somehow didn’t. Then we make adjustments, make sure THAT doesn’t happen again and next week the team comes up with some new creative way to lose.
    Sheesh.
    To quote Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon– I’m getting too old for this sh***

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    • LOL
      Seriously?, that 4th Qtr had nothing but camp meat in there.
      Nobody could possibly care less that we lost because Patricia played starters so long.
      I mean he was so hell bent on winning he had Legarrett Blount playing in the 4th QTR.

      Read the What we learned from Fridays preseason Games article if you don’t believe that was a total A$$ whooping.
      http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000950793/article/what-we-learned-from-fridays-nfl-preseason-games

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  2. You like to say you won’t even in pre season, but Who wins these games is pretty meaningless. Especially when the QB at end for Bucs is a guy that won’t even make the team. If Griffin kept playing we would kept scoring and won I think. We dominated most of the game. Yeah their 3rd and 4 string beat our 3rd and 4th guys in the 4th qtr. Not a big deal.

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    • You’re talking me off the ledge!

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  3. If you need to be talked off the ledge from a Buc preseason game, in which most starters looked great against the Lions starters..then I’d say go ahead and jump. Hell, I’ll give you a shove if you’re waffling.

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    • Stop the hate. We’re all buc fans here.

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  4. Who cares whether we win a pre-season game or not! What bothered me was same ole same ole with Mike Smith schemes! We bring in good defensive line free agents and we still can’t stop anyone except with penalties to our favor. Folks, Mike Smith can’t coach anymore! Koetter better stay focus on where is his DEFENSE!!!

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  5. Spence is a joke! He was man handles by 3rd string OL at the end of the game. Scott, you actually want to keep him in your 53 Man Roster Prediction? Other than a sack what did Gholston show? They ran right by him as a DT & DE. Coach Koetter, your team isn’t ready for Regular Season. Play your starters in the 1st Qtr Thursday night. See if Fitzpatrick can get a passing TD. Coach Koetter, let someone else call the Defense Scheme in the 1st Qtr Thursday and see what happens. We’re going nowhere without DEFENSE!

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    • Agreed Mike Smith defense is bad. Or secondary gets tourched because there perdictableand in bad postion.

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    • I think Spence is a 3-4 OLB in the NFL not a 4-3 hand in the dirt DE. Watched him in practice and his quickness is unreal, including blowing past D. Smith. No idea what’s going on. Maybe just trade him to a 3-4 team, package him with some of the WR talent and get a decent #2 RB. Nobody’s giving away DE talent.

      I’ve tempered my enthusiasm for free agents, trading for high priced guys like JPP who’ve made their nut and are on the gravel train. D line is more of the same. Gaping hole is what’s going on with Vita Vea – any news on him Scott?

      We’ve drafted some great young DB talent – the Whitehead kid is a heat seeking missile – Davis and Stewart look solid, Hargreaves may be coming around, but if the D line is still mush we’re going nowhere.

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  6. I live in Indianapolis and watched the game at a bar/restaurant. The whole restaurant was cheering Humphries on during his return. What a play and what a memory. Preseason or not.

    I was shocked(shocked!!) when DJax returned a punt. And in a preseason game? In the second quarter? I guess the team is serious about results this year when you’re putting a $10 million dollar player back to return punts in the preseason.

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  7. Our secondary need help bad Conte is terrible and the playing 15yard off the ball is dumb as hell.

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  8. None of this is the end of the world. Maybe they’re not showing the changes in the D scheme to help our chances of winning 1 or 2 in the first few weeks?

    Yes it’s true we still have depth issues but that has been obvious all during camp. We should be better this year but thinking one offseason was enough to fill the many needs was not realistic, it looked like a 2-3 year project to me.

    Most worrisome to me is the continuing need at OL even if Cappa comes around. JL just hasn’t done enough to bolster it but again most of us knew that going into this season. Why you’d fail to make the OL a strength with a QB like Winston and the best set of receivers and TEs we’ve had ever, by a mile, is beyond me. But he has failed to fix it, year after year after year.

    On the plus side Barber looks even better than expected (to me) and I’m not as worried about RoJo as most, it has taken Barber time to reach his current level for instance. As long as he’s not Charles Sims 2.0 he should be fine.

    This will hopefully be a year of progress, and next year too.

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  9. I swear some of you guys write like the only games you ever watch our high school and college ball.
    Absolutely loved your comment fanofdabucs. Spot on.
    Ques1, Conte is a good but not great safety. He is rarely out of position and like last night, has made a number of TD saving tackles with the Bucs when coming from the other side of the field. Has he been beaten in one on one coverage? Yes. Just like every player in the NFL. Perhaps you would like to give us some detailed analysis of why you don’t like his play other than to just say he is terrible.
    BTW, he is a safety. They generally do play 10 to 15 yards off the ball depending on the scheme.
    And Horse, I am with you in regards to Mike Smiths schemes.

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  10. I enjoyed watching my Bucs in a live broadcast up here in Washington for quite some time. Overall, I thought things went well. For what it’s worth, here are my pros and cons.

    PROS: First string offense not too shabby. Solid job by PB, running hard, getting yards, and a 14-yard TD. Fitz did well, too. Both of those (along with the play of Jameis and Griffin) are even more impressive considering we were down three starters on the O-Line. I love our receivers, especially 1-4. OJ Howard is going to be a beast one day (soon).

    Very solid play calling in the first three quarters. Seriously, I am wondering if Koetter has already decided to keep Monken calling plays in the regular season and just isn’t telling us. The man is doing a great job calling plays.

    All three REAL quarterbacks look very good. I am not nearly so worried about Griffin if he is called upon.

    DL pressuring Stafford often and getting a couple sacks was nice to see. (Though, I’d like to see JPP with some sacks pretty damn soon.) VHIII impressed me by doing a solid job, especially in the red zone.

    Being up 27-6 at home was awesome to see. (We were running away with it. “Were” being the keyword.)

    Adam Humphries, 109 yards. Awesome! Preseason game be damned. Calling a TO simply to put him back there was a great move, as well.

    Seems like we have a pretty good KR for the first time in a long time. Well done, Shaun Wilson. Keep it up.

    CONS: Austin Allen. Wow. I know he’s gone and he should be. He was undrafted for a reason. But, what was with snapping the ball with 15 seconds left on the play clock? Didn’t they have opportunities like this in Arkansas? He should no better. And why wasn’t someone talking to him in his helmet to bleed the clock? The play call of a pass before their punt was very suspect, as well. But, if the clock is run down as Bruce Arians was saying on the air, the Lions do not have the time to win this game.

    Special Teams giving up an 80-yard punt return for a TD. Really? Make a damn tackle and there is not the time for two Detroit scoring opportunities.

    Noah Spence is not getting the job done. Wouldn’t surprise me if he is cut if he doesn’t do something big against Jax.

    Our beloved Bucs cannot seem to avoid the damn penalties. What’s worse is they come in groups, usually on consecutive plays on the opponent’s side of the field. What other team gets two Offensive PI calls? (About that call on OJ. Was that legit? The one replay I saw seemed very iffy.)

    RoJo. We need another RB besides Peyton Barber. God help us if he goes down. I like Quizz (go Oregon State!) and he’s better than RoJo. But, we need someone better.

    OVERALL: The first three quarters were very good. The last quarter. Yikes. Though, to be honest, I am very worried about our status for being competitive in games 1-3.

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  11. The last qtr is guys playing that likely won’t even make the team so again who cares? Lol

    Horse, Last year Smith’s defense was bad really bad. Honestly though I’m waiting until season starts and see what happens before I begin criticizing Smith this year. Let’s be honest He had no CB’s other than Grimes that could play worth a shit last year. Two average at best safeties. D line that was worst in the NFL and total joke.

    Was it Smiths fault rookie Davis didn’t drop into his zone and Conte had to save a TD?

    Now I agree some games it seemed idiotic how far the CB’s would play off the WR when it was 3rd and 6 or whatever but that was last year I’ll wait until this year to keep bringing it up.

    I also think as bad as pass rush was and the teams record was, he could have oh I don’t know, blitzed more? Lol. Again with that secondary it’s scary but I would take a quick death over the slow painful ones we had last year.

    Year before everyone wasn’t criticizing his scheme they were calling for him to get extension before some team grabbed him. Lol.

    Bottom line your never as good or as bad as it seems! I’m not going to keep beating him up over last year unless looks same this year with the added talent.

    One more point then I’ll shut up. Lol. Let’s be honest Bucs fans this team needed a lot more than we thought last year. Glaring needs! D line and O line were pathetic. Could not run ball no matter who the RB was. Barber only fared little better than Martin. We had one CB that didn’t suck. Two average safeties. Etc etc. My point is you can only fix so much in a damn year!!!! So I’m not going into this year thinking it’s a playoff team like so many did last year. I agree with most that they likely fall somewhere between 7-9 wins.

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