It’s unfair to judge a team too critically after Week 1 of preseason, but the Buccaneers had a few players in particular get off to a rough start Saturday night. From areas along the offensive line to overall special teams, while there were promising moments from the 2-14 club, first game jitters were evident throughout the opening contest.
MOST DISAPPOINTING BUCCANEERS AT VIKINGS
RG/C Garrett Gilkey
There have been moments throughout training camp where Garrett Gilkey has looked like a far improved player from 2014 – but not on Saturday night. A natural guard, Gilkey took over for starting center Evan Smith during the second quarter and was responsible for two bad snaps, one over Jameis Winston’s head and one that was rolled on the ground. Neither error cost the Bucs possession, but it’s clear Gilkey is still struggling with some of the same issues from last season. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if rookie Ali Marpet, who had a good debut at guard, takes a few more snaps at center as preseason continues. The Bucs need to have an able backup center in the event Smith can’t play.
LT Donovan Smith
Staying with the offensive line, Donovan Smith did not have a strong introduction Saturday night. Smith, the Bucs first of two second-round selections, surrendered a sack to Vikings’ defensive end Everson Griffin in his first snap at left tackle during the second quarter. In fact, Winston seemed to sense the weakness on the left side as he stepped in to avoid the rush the following play before scrambling for five yards. Rookies are expected to struggle at first – especially while lining up against top defensive ends in their first game – but with Demar Dotson’s status up in the air, the Bucs could be pressed for options at tackle, in which case Smith needs to learn and develop fast.
KR/PR Kaelin Clay
Moving away from the offensive line but staying with rookies, this wasn’t the performance the Bucs were looking for out of Kaelin Clay. The sixth-round pick’s first mistake came during the Vikings first kickoff, as he returned it from deep in his own end zone. It’s understandable that he was eager to return his first career kick, but even in preseason it’s not smart to take a ball out from nine yards deep. Clay’s first punt return didn’t fare any better. Following the Vikings three-and-out, Clay fielded the punt from inside the 20-yard line, danced around a few would-be tacklers and lost two yards. His disappointing debut can be forgiven, though. Aside from being a rookie anxious to make a play, Clay’s trying to win a tight race for return duties in 2015 and felt the need to make a strong first impression. He’s likely still in the lead to win the job, but in the future the Bucs would probably like him to take a knee and call for a fair catch a little more often.
WR Tavarres King
Another player who appeared to be affected by first game jitters was Tavarres King. The third-year pro stepped on the field during the third quarter, where he would make back-to-back mistakes on the opening two plays from scrimmage. After jumping offside, King dropped a perfectly thrown 15-yard slant pass from Mike Glennon, essentially costing the team 20 yards in two plays. In a crowded competition for one of the final wide receiver spots, King didn’t help his case Saturday night.
Kick Coverage Unit
The Vikings sent out six different return men for three punts and three kickoffs, and each had a nice take back. And while Minnesota has two quality returners in Marcus Sherels and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Bucs troubles went beyond the competition. From missed tackles to blown assignments, the special teams unit has a lot to clean up before the regular season begins. Even Ronde Barber was critical of the Bucs’ kick coverage Saturday night.
Dishonorable Mentions: S Chris Hackett, P Karl Schmitz, P Michael Koenen, K Pat Murray, G Kadeem Edwards
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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Even though the Bucs looked like a two win team like last year, it was there first game. Also the viking announcer mentioned that the Vikings had already played another game and so should look better than the Bucs. I hated listening to their homie attitude.
Practice or not, the Bucs didn’t look like they were in position on defense and at times they were flat awful on offense. And before someone argues vanilla defense, it doesn’t excuse players WIDE open on multiple occasions. No pressure, no coverage, no problem for the Vikings.
Why isn’t Jameis on this list? He has to play smarter than that. Yeah, yeah first game, but whatever. You guys should be ripping him a new one for those AWKWARD scrambles that could have easily resulted in injury or concussion. Feet first Jameis. That scramble where he avoided a safety ended with a forearm to his helmet by Waynes. He was looking for a flag and might have gotten the call had he not rammed his head into the other guys forearm. Not to mention, the Bucs still punted. He wasn’t close to a first down. The only thing uglier than that scramble was the TD scramble. I’m just thinking back to Jameis’s 40 at the combine. Yuck. Stay in the pocket and pass it Jameis.
I thought Winston was effective enough moving in the pocket, although no one will confuse him with Fran Tarkenton. As far as I’m concerned, if a QB gets the ball in the endzone it’s a thing of beauty.
After giving up that sack on his first play, I thought D Smith did rather well. I’d replace him on the list with Leonard Johnson. He missed tackles, and gave up a big play on the first drive. Time to put Moore in as starting nickle. Gilkey has no business being in the NFL, period. I thought Warren did a good job when he replaced Gilk. Next years draft, stud D end, and center.
The main problem is that Gilkey is a Guard, not a Center. I would like to see how well he does as a back-up G. Did he even play at G at all? I think the experiment with him at C should stop. He may be an effective swing G, but we will not know if we keep putting him at C.
JW needs to be on this list. I am not a Gilkey fan but JW should have caught the snap that bounced off his hands and got by him. Smith was decent after getting beat. Has PR lost all objectivity? Were you guys watching the same game as the rest of us?
When your team was 2-14 the prior year the expectation is that would show some passion and determination in their first opportunity to play even in a preseason game. The Bucs? Nope. Same ole, same ole. 1-15 this season at best. The O-line is now exposed with no depth. Putting Smith at Dotson’s spot or ANY spot is dangerous at best. He is lazy and has no clue. His work ethic is embarrassing. But, this is who L&L wanted. This team is dumpster fire and a hot mess. We’d be better off calling off the season and trying again next year.
Rich I’m glad. You’ve brought your negetivity and crystal ball to describe our one win season. If you’ve given up already after one game than keep off the boards because it’s bad enough trying to get over last season and every game this year without reading your terriblely negative posts
Who stepped on your sh!t?
I’ll sum up by saying we didn’t answer a lot last night, we asked more questions. I only hope that Dotson isn’t lost for the season….big loss!
Here is a prediction that has been accurate every season for the past 40 years. Some fans will give up after a meaningless exhibition game that had some good and a little more bad play on display. It’s no wonder the divorce rate is so high.
The questions are still the same for me? where’s the DE pass rush; where’s the OL pass protection; where’s the back up Center. I thought Winston play well except for one or two rookie mistakes. He moved a lot faster around the no pass protection than previously thought. Smith looked goodn except for his first play in his first series. I knew this would be a very sloppy game because of lack of practice time and playing a team who has already played a game. GM and Coach need to find a DE now and same for a RT since Dotson won’t be around anytime soon. We must get a real backup Center!!!!!!!!!!
That spin move made Smith look so frigging silly. Never seen a spin move work that well! With Dotson status unknown I’m not getting a good feeling that this o line will be much better than last year. I also have yet to see a rush from a DE. Winston did some good things but the bad was really bad. Going to be learning curve for him for sure. Pretty much what he’s done in practice I guess. Some really bad throws and some really good ones.
That Kaelin Clay has a punt returner’s heart. Maybe a little reckless, but definitely not scared. Judgment is the key – when to and when not to. Sooner or later, he’s going to break one! Needs to listen to his spotter.
Perhaps now the band wagon will clear out some so that the real fans (we know who we are) can continue critiquing these PRACTICE games without the predictable bashing of JW. I was glad he finished the game alive after that performance of the OL combined with more drops and missed assignments by the WR’s. Lets not forget the Vikings had a preseason game prior to ours (Hall of Fame game), we will look sharper this week at home in our 2nd game as well. If not, then more critical comments will be deserved and delivered. Finally, the Vikes are no pansy team, many pick them as playoff bound as the 2nd best team in the NFC North. They are one season ahead of us, in my opinion in the rebuilding phase….
It’s far too early for any of the rookies to be on this list. Although I will say Kwon is putting the pressure on Carter for PT. That said I think it’s time for Leonard Johnson and Gilkey to be cut. Sterling Moore needs to settle in at nickel and Warren looked much better than Gilkey ever has. Bowers is another player I would cut. It’s time for us to move on from players that haven’t progressed and constantly underperform. Jameis will be better as I predict a more controlled passing game in the 1st halves of games to get him warmed up. Still would like to see us add a DE and Mathis(G) before the season opener bc both units need some help. I hope we have a much cleaner game next week so we start seeing some progress.
Not to be a wet blanket, but weren’t we in the exact same spot last year: horrible line play, porous secondary and not so special teams…
I hope never to see or hear Gilkey’s name again unless it’s to say he’s been CUT!!!
Don’t know why you were so unhappy with Bowers. I thought he played better than I expected at DT.
The biggest disappointment is our Coach ( defense is not up to speed) and GM ( no depth on O Line). To put the team in this position that Dotson has to be in there so we don’t get Winston killed is beyond unacceptable . This is a classic draft pick dream and a wish , you have now put your whole community’s team behind the eight ball for the whole dam season. This is beyond a joke, listen I like Licht but he is learning on the Job and he just learned a big lesson or he better have. Who is your depth NOW , who is your right tackle, who’s gonna be 6 weeks late learning your system because u were dreaming you have capable back ups on this team You Don’t !! You have as I clearly said would happen , put Winston’s development on hold because you have no and I mean no depth on the o line and No Right Tackle!! I hope the Glazers really talk to a great football mind and realize the O Line game plan for your rookie number one pick for this season was un fathomable !! What a Joke !! Dotson was in the game because deep down L and L know our back ups are terrible but that includes there players and they won’t admit it !! B TW Winston looked real good but still starts slow just like at FSU …… He should be fine minus the management of the o line but they must work on that slow start . I commend the vet / depth moves on the D Line but they are not protecting your # 1 pick rookie QB …… What in the H. e. double hockey sticks were these clowns thinking , is Bruce Allen back and we don’t know it !!
I think Winston belongs on this list. He stunk. First game or not, poor O line play or not,he was horrible for most of game until Vikings starters came out on defense. I hope to god we made the right decision with him. Far from sold we did. Mariota struggled early too but not nearly as long as Winston did.hooong much better next week.
Fredster please go back and look at Tom Brady’s first 4 or five game last year, sacks , pressures and hits then take a look at his passer rating for those games………. During this time he had poor line play and he was beyond terrible. He does have a coach that corrects things and the line played much much better starting game 5 and six and the rest is history . He did hv good reason to deflate after his first four games
Have we just gotten so used to Leonard Johnson blowing coverages that he doesn’t get listed anymore? Opposing team’s #3 WRs are going to go off on this defense once again
Kino go back and watch the game. Winstonstunk when the O line gave him time and when they didnt. Hardly can blame the O line for that other than the sack where Smith looked like an idiot! He had better run game and protection than McCown did! Also Tom Brady was a 6th round pick not first overall. Bad analogy. I am not a Winston hater, nor was I saying Mariota was the better pick, but I call it like I see it and that was nota good start. Stared down receivers, poor throws. Etc. expected better rookie or not.
The analogy is one of the best Qb’s ever to play the game was horrible when things around him changed and he is a ten year Vet. If he so much as got touched he was missing receivers by 3 feet, nothing to do with receivers just a new line and no protection.Analogy is 10 year vet , top 5 to ever play position with best coach in football was beyond terrible with young line and the worst protection since rookie year vs rookie in first game with easily worst 5 o lines in NFL and don’t think he doesn’t know it just like Brady knew it !!! If you think we have the best receivers in NFL you are buying good crack, they are not bad but prob not top 10……….. Winston hit Jackson perfectly and he has to cradle the ball and fall to the ground so he makes the catch. If it’s not a slant VJ can’t catch with his hands while on the run or not very well anyway and if I’m not mistaken that is pretty dam important. There is 20 other receivers in the NFL that score on that play and that alone makes you not that good , you have to score on that play !!!
Sorry, but I don’t think missing on one play makes you a disappointment for the game. I though Donovan Smith more than held his own after the first play.
As far as Gilkey is concerned, he did have that one bad snap but I can’t see on replay who was responsible for the fumbled exchange. As for his guard play, Giley, along with the rest of the offensive line looked much better than they did last year and Mankins only played the first two series.
If you want to give a disappointing grade out, give one to Glennon.
On his final series he had two passes deflected at the line of scrimmage.
Egads, how does a 6’6 QB have two passes deflected. I though I was watching the ghost of Chris Simms.
Yes Glennon looked pretty crappy as well.
Also in regard to the last year early Brady struggles, I seem to remember lack of WR as being more of the issue then the O line? I know the line took time to gel, but Brady didn’t have any WR help either. Thought that was reason we traded them Tim Wright? Not a Patriots expert, but that’s what I remember. In any event Winston has one of best if not the best receiving tandems out there. Hoping for better start and overall play next week. Not bashing or giving up on a rookie but let’s be honest that was a disappointing first game for Winston.
I was just looking to find something positive while watching the game and then Winston delivered a 76 yard scoring drive. I was satisfied. How many times have we sent 3 and out, over and over. At least there is some offensive spark. It was the first game and they were a mess, but it was the FIRST game. No panic button here, they’ll get better.
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