Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians coached his first NFL game in over a year since returning to the league. In the preseason opener in Pittsburgh, the Bucs were brilliant on their opening drive with their starters in, but had to scratch and claw their way to try and come back late in the game with the backups.

After a touchdown by reserve running back Dare Ogunbowale with 10 seconds left cut the Steelers deficit to 30-28, the Bucs could not convert on a two-point conversion that would have tied the game. Tampa Bay went 0-for-3 on two-point conversions in the game and lost by two points.

Following the game, Coach Arians spoke with the media to discuss his thoughts on the Bucs’ preseason opener. Here is an entire transcript from his post-game press conference.

Opening statement:
“Really disappointed in our penalties, especially on special teams, we need to get a lot of that cleaned up. Obviously I’m pleased with the starters. I was not happy giving up that post on the goal line down there. I thought we started the game fast, obviously, our starters versus their backups, we should be good, then got them out of there. I liked the way we fought back. The game is 60 minutes and you never know what can happen. Mazzie [Wilkins] had a great hit there to get the fumble. Grif (Ryan Griffin) played with a lot of young guys and did a heck of a job moving the football for us. Obviously we don’t want to throw it 56 times a game, but when you’re down you’re going to throw it when you’re down two scores to get it back. No, I didn’t want to go to overtime. I would have liked to run that play better. I’d like to see them execute it better. That’s kind of why we went for the two early, to get it off the overtime three points.”

On the opening drive, the balance of run and pass:
“It was the perfect drive. I mean, we ran the ball well, I thought we ran the ball good all night until the young guys out there. That sets up a lot of stuff for us. I thought Jameis [Winston] took what was there. We took our shot downfield to Breshard [Perriman] and we didn’t hit it, we’re going to mix and match, and when you’re down like that the numbers are going to go up on the passing side.”

Bucs RB Ronald Jones
Bucs RB Ronald Jones – Photo by: Getty Images

On the good performance by RB Ronald Jones II:
“It hasn’t surprised me because he’s been doing it every single day. To do it out there in a game, yeah, it was good. Again, you put the two’s out there, he had a good couple runs and I was like ‘Get him out.’ He’s on schedule to do exactly what we want – both those backs. I was pleased with Dare [Ogunbowale] and Andre [Ellington].”

On the play of TE Tanner Hudson:
“I mean he catches the ball every single day, and if he gets rid of those penalties on special teams, he’ll have a chance. If he continues to get penalties on special teams … that’s where he’s going to have to play, but he can catch the football and that’s one of Griff’s favorite targets.”

On seeing Bucs rookie ILB Devin White and Steelers rookie ILB Devin Bush – both first-round picks – play:
“I never saw Bush. I can’t see that stuff, but Devin, the size, strength, speed, maturity – everything that you’re looking for in a leader of your defense. Devin Bush I liked, but I didn’t really see him tonight.”

On if he likes where White is so far:
“Oh yeah, he’s got the green dot on the helmet. He’s calling the defense. He’s making the checks. He’s our bell cow.”

On pulling backup QB Blaine Gabbert after one possession:
“Seeing [Eagles backup QB Nate] Sudfeld get hurt the other night went into my thinking a little bit. Blaine was sharp as a tack. He’s been really sharp the last week in practice so I was like, I don’t need to see him that much. He knows what he’s doing. I was really pleased with Griff.”

On the play of the rookie DBs:
“Lack of communication, really lack of communication. We dropped crossing routes. They’re going to have to do a much better job. Mike [Edwards] pulled up, he couldn’t go any further, obviously [Jamel] Dean’s not here and [Sean] Murphy-Bunting didn’t show up to me. I would of liked to see him get his hand on the ball.”

On the penalty by OLB Noah Spence that negated CB Vernon Hargreaves III’s interception:
“That changed the whole game. That’s one of those penalties that just can’t happen. You can’t have hands to the face. We got the ball at the 50 going back in, that changed the whole momentum of the ball game. Those are the things we have to learn from.”

On the big pass play let up when the Steelers were back at their own goal line:
“We were playing two-man, and the guy that was supposed to be on him let him out. Dumb, young mistake.”

On his thoughts on the progress of the Bucs
“I’m happy with where we’re at. I never like losing, I wanted to win the game. I liked the fourth quarter comeback, I thought there was a lot of good, Snelly (wide receiver Spencer Schnell) played good, and Griff, getting that turnover. Just the penalties, overall penalties is the only thing I’m down on. Everything else is great.”

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  1. I love what BA is saying: you can live with rookies making mistakes that’s to be expected, but penalties by Spence and other Veterans are inexcusable. A good portion of our success this year is going to come down to “Discipline”.

    Rating: +26. From 28 votes.
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  2. I 100% agree with Bruce Arians if you offense is built and designed for a short pass “QB”, penalties will be a huge deal, you can not create 2nd and 3rd and long situations without deep pass.
    Deep passes with this QB create interceptions and interceptions are a big no no.

    Rating: -17. From 33 votes.
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  3. For the record that’s not what Arians was saying. Arians called for Winston to take a deep shot to Perriman in the first drive of the Game. High Turnovers are likely for any QB who constantly throw low percentage Deep Balls.

    Rating: +14. From 16 votes.
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  4. Looks like they will try the conservative short pass game plan for Jameis, control ball and clock, all good unless there are penalties or if they get behind.
    And it is a must that the Bowles game face works and the defense vastly improves.
    To work Bucs must have
    1 Top defense
    2. Great special Teams.
    3. Above average Running game.
    4 Low penalties.
    5.Great coaching.
    6. limited injures.
    7. No fumbles or turnovers .
    8. 5-6 players playing at pro bowl level.
    9. A little Good luck
    Bring this altogether and Bucs can win! Go Bucs

    Rating: -9. From 17 votes.
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  5. It doesn’t matter to Dumbass Boob what is actually said by Arians he is a loser nut job that pitches stupid non sense constantly. Just ignore him and he will go away eventually. Lol.

    Rating: +6. From 18 votes.
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    • Fredster …I always enjoy Bob’s take and this site is a lot more fun to read with him on board.

      Rating: -2. From 18 votes.
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      • That’s because he feels the same way about Winston as you do. So it only makes sense that you enjoy his posts considering that’s what 90% are about

        Rating: +5. From 15 votes.
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  6. There were a number of positives this game. Gay was great, kicking a 55 yard field goal in Heinz stadium and setting the record for the longest kick made in that stadium. It is early but it is possible the Bucs have finally solved their kicker problems with this fifth round draft pick.

    Winston was effective in his one series, and made no errors even on the deep ball as it was not in danger of being picked off. Gabbert was a pleasant surprise, playing well for one series as well. I know the Steelers were not playing their “A” team for the most part from the opening kickoff, but at least the two QBs looked good the brief time they were out there.

    Defensive depth is a concern still. They were not the starters out there but they gave up four or five plays of over 20 yards throughout the game. I am hoping and praying when the season starts and the healthy starters are back that they can put a stop to most of the big plays or it is going to be heartbreaking to watch.

    The running game was marginally better than last year but for anyone keeping track, the team ran for an anemic 79 yards on the ground, taking out Winston’s 10 yard run. The team is going to need to average a little over 100 yards a game to take pressure off the QB and not have the teams just play the pass. I only hope it gets better as the preseason progresses.

    Last, the penalties were ghastly and numerous. It is only the first preseason game and it was not the starters for the most part but at least that is correctable.

    I have my hopes they can get to 8-8 this year. I am hoping that is the floor and they do better but would be happy with that insane 5 game road trip starting week 4 if they can get to .500.

    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
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  7. I got home late so I did not see our 1’s play. I heard they were lights out. I thought the rest of the game was pretty sloppy, but hey it’s preseason football. I loved it! I was impressed with Hudson, Schnell, Spence, Ogunbowale, and even Griffin a little. 56 passes for the game from 3 different QBs and no interceptions is absolutely amazing to me given the teams history. The 1st Qtr defense pitched a shutout on a mix of their 1’s and 2’s, which could be seen as impressive. It’s the Steelers for cryin out loud. Couple big splash plays given up by the D, but that can be tightened up. Overall I like what I’m seeing. I have a good feeling this team is going to surprise a lot of people.

    Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
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  8. I would of liked to see Gay get those three extra kicks in. I wanted to see him kick a FG instead of going for it on fourth, and one. Kicking extra points was a nightmare for us last year. Why practice going for two with back ups who won’t make the team when we need to see if our rookie kicker can make extra points? Plus there’s supposed to be a kicking competition, give them a chance to compete.

    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
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  9. I agree, and I was surprised given the Bucs struggle with kicking the past few years. You can practice 2pt. tries all day long at practice, but simulating game situations for kickers is much harder. Maybe this is a sign Arians is going to be going for the 2 point conversion much more?

    Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
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