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.
“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.”
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.”