As is the case with most wins, there are more good things to talk about than bad. Such is the case right now as we recall the performances of some of the Buccaneers during Tampa Bay’s first preseason game, a win over the Miami Dolphins 26-24.

It was a close game on the scoreboard, but that score really was closer than it should have been, as the Bucs led and controlled most of the game.

These were our most impressive Buccaneer performers in Thursday night’s victory.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick started the game and ran two drives with the first team. His stats weren’t super impressive, as he finished the game just 6-for-8 with 55 yards and no touchdowns, but he looked in control the entire time, leading the Bucs on a touchdown drive during one of the two series he played. He seemed comfortable with Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and the rest of the big names.

QB Jameis Winston

Winston came in after Fitzpatrick, and we were anxious to see what the Bucs were going to get from the usually hot-and-cold franchise quarterback, who was assuming a backup role on Thursday. With the second team, Winston went 11-for-13 with 102 yards. He also had what was the throw of the night, a beautiful touch pass to tight end Cameron Brate. Winston played exactly how the team hoped he would, which could be a big confidence boost for him moving forward.

QB Ryan Griffin

Griffin played the entire second half, and though the team’s lead dwindled and was even briefly lost while he was the quarterback, that can’t really be put on him. Running with the third-team offense and third-team offensive line, Griffin put up 179 passing yards on 20-for-26 attempts with a touchdown and the game-winning drive. It’s not often that all three quarterbacks are the most impressive players during a game, but that was certainly the case on Thursday.

CB Carlton Davis

Davis was starting on the outside as cornerback Brent Grimes remained sidelined for the contest. In the first game of his NFL career, Davis did not seem overwhelmed or timid at all. Instead, he was taking charge in press coverage and had a beautiful diving pass break up to highlight a lockdown first half performance. Davis has been making the most out his opportunities in practice and that continued on Thursday night. He stood out, even as a rookie.

S Jordan Whitehead

Speaking of rookies, safety Jordan Whitehead was not only one of the most impressive, he might have been the most impressive. While running with the second and third teams, Whitehead made plenty of impact  plays, both in coverage and in run support. The Bucs drafted Whitehead because of his athletic upside, and if he continues to plays with the confidence he did tonight, the Bucs might have a decision to make when it comes to who starts in the regular season next to Justin Evans.

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  1. All QB’s looked sharped and played to their strengths due to play calling of Monken.

    Davis is probably in the lead to start opposite of Grimes. His size along with Grimes’ agility is going to be a formidable duo.

    Whitehead saved two TD’s which was the difference in the game and the Bucs winning. He first stuffed a runner near a goal line situation and in another situation he made a diving pass breakup in a critical 4th and goal situation.

    Monken’s play calling should receive an honorable mention as his play calling in the redzone was on point.

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  2. I would add M J Stewart to the list.

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  3. I thought Cameron Brate had a good game and was surprised he played so much. I also thought Dare Ogianbowaie ran hard and showed some shiftiness for a big RB. Sergio Bailey was a pleasant surprise. I thought the makeshift O-line was adequate. Good effort.

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    • +1

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  4. Bobo, Barber, Noah Spence and Cappa had good games too.

    Spence looked lightening quick coming off the edge. The Dolphins started double teaming him when they were passing.

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  5. the rookie CBs played very well. Im not surprised thou cuz they have been making plays in training camp. Whitehead really impressed me! that dude was laying some licks on them boys!

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  6. I held my breath when Fitz scrambled and ran both times. Lol. Thank god he wasn’t hurt. He played well and looked confident.

    Winston looked ok considering the blocking wasn’t good at all. That throw to Brate was on a rope. That’s always been his best range like 20 yards or so. He’s never had trouble with that throw it’s the deep ball that has been non existent.

    I have to eat crow on Griffin. I said he sucked and I’d be surprised if they kept him. Well honestly that’s the first time I’ve seen him play well. Before that was either sucking bad in pre season or getting hurt. Makes me feel little better if Fitz gets hurt this guy can possibly play. Hope he keeps it up and stays healthy.

    Davis looked great. Stewart looked solid as well.

    JPP is going to be a force here. All the idiots that said he wasn’t worth a 3rd rd pick are going to look more stupid when season starts!

    Whitehead was all over the place! Like a heat seeking missile. Might been biggest surprise of the night.

    Overall was pretty happy just hope O line and Dotson come together and get healthy soon. Not getting reps before regular season is not good. Still thin and scary once you go past the 5 starters there.

    I hope this isn’t season 3 in a row of kickers that suck! I know it’s early and I’m not saying he’s going to tank but didn’t like seeing the missed extra point or FG. Like a bad dream you can’t wake up from with stupid kickers last few years. Lol.

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  7. I would give Honorable Mention also to Cross, Barber, and the third string TE with the great hands that made our victory possible last night. I was also happy the patch work first string OL did so well and allowed our running game to thrive and did not allow a single sack. I was not expecting that.

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  8. I was equally surprised how well Ryan Griffin did behind our third string OL with better Tackle pass blocking than usual. We need to keep him on our roster so no one steals him and he will be a suitable replacement for Fitz one day when he retires. Interestingly, Ryan does not have the red zone problems passing that continues to plague Jameis so when Jameis can start again the minute he gets in the red zone he needs to come out and rest and let Fitz or Ryan score touchdowns!

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  9. Todd Monken, tbh. His play calling was on point all night. Far more methodical compared to Koetter’s all of last season. Stressing a lot of quick throws to get every QB in rhythm. Even called a RPO that worked pretty well. Winston sailed it a little bit high to Bobo, but if that’s Evans it’s likely an easy catch and possibly a TD.

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  10. Agree with Owlykat above that Alan Cross deserves recognition. Great TD catch. I see him as one of those “glue” players all teams need.

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  11. Add Payton Barber, Starting O Line, WR’s Bailey #83, Bobo, Lampman #19, MJ Stewart #36, Second team left Tackle that took out two defenders on TD by RoJo. Tackling – Some of the best, most sure tackling I’ve seen from a Bucs D in a while.

    How about Red Zone offense scoring TD’s.

    For a first preseason game on the road there were a lot of positive take aways. The Dolphins self destructed multiple times. We were steady and produced. If the pass rush was a little better and we made all our extra points it would have been excellent!

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  12. I thought Bailey look pretty good. I hope we get to see more of him in the 2nd Preseason game.

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  13. This list is too short, it needs to include all 3 QBs, all 3 rookie DBs, Wilson, Bailey, and Monken. I know it was jus the first preseason game and there was no game-planning etc, but everyone on this list showed the ability needed to be successful this year.

    Not sure if it was Monken’s playcalling or just him turning the corner but Winston didn’t have his usual slow start we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Fitz was Fitz, nothing surprising but Griffin played very well compared to his previous performances. And he did so behind a patchwork 2nd and 3rd string Oline at that!

    Watson better be careful, he had the one fumble which isn’t in itself a big deal, but he’s got Wilson and Bailey breathing down his neck for that roster spot. Coaching staff is gonna have some difficult decisions to make in the WR room.

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    • add Nigel Harris to the list as well…that kid was all over the place

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