Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
The Buccaneers offense started off slow, and had it not have been for a number of Jaguars penalties that extended drives, Tampa Bay may not have come away with a win. Still, there were a few solid runs by numerous backs behind good blocking, and a few receptions by Mike Evans when it mattered most. Below are PewterReport.com’s grades on the offense. Take a look and see if you agree.
Winston started slow again in Week 2, only this time he didn’t recover with 7-of-9 completions for 97 yards and a TD. Instead, the second-year pro saw his first five passes hit the ground and his sixth go into the hands of Jaguars LB Dwayne Gratz. If you’re going to have off days, better to have them in the preseason and Saturday night could definitely be described as an off day for the Bucs starting QB. Winston did throw two nice passes to Mike Evans – a strike on fourth-and-1 and a perfectly placed fade to Mike Evans for a touchdown – but ended a less-than-impressive 3-of-10 for 28 yards and a TD and interception.
Mike Glennon, who entered the game midway through the second quarter and played until the end of the third, finished his night 11-of-19 for 120 yards and a TD to Mike James. On that drive, he completed 5-of-8 for 38 yards and got help from a couple PI calls on Jacksonville to keep Tampa Bay from having to settle for a field goal.
For a QB trying to prove he can be a capable backup in the future, Ryan Griffin didn’t make his best case Saturday night. His worst throw – a comeback intended for Andre Davis that was picked by Josh Johnson and returned 79 yards – was really bad. But his best throw – a deep ball down the sideline to Jonathan Krause in stride – was really good. Overall, while Griffin, who finished 5-of-10 for 79 yards and an INT, wasn’t consistent, he was playing with a lot of third-teammers and still showed flashes in his second NFL game.
The Bucs stable of running backs behind Doug Martin, who sat out Saturday night, and Charles Sims, who started, appear to be in a tight competition for the No. 3 role.
Peyton Barber, an undrafted rookie from Auburn, led the unit in carries and rushing yards with 11 for 40 and nearly had a TD in the fourth quarter, but it was Storm Johnson and Mike James who contributed scores. Along with 27 tough yards on the ground, Johnson caught two passes for 28 yards and showed some speed to go along with his big frame. James, meanwhile, took six carries for 17 yards and added 11 yards on two receptions. Barber also had a catch for 10 yards.
While Russell Hansbrough, undrafted out of Mizzou, wasn’t as productive on offense (though he did have an 18-yard run), his presence was felt on special teams and he showed flashes of the change-of-pace style he adds to the backfield.
All four RBs had their moments on Saturday, making for some tough decisions to come for Tampa Bay. Next week should be telling.
Other than Mike Evans – whose two critical receptions came on fourth-and-1 and a TD a couple plays later, both from Jameis Winston – there weren’t any standout receivers for Tampa Bay Saturday night in Jacksonville.
The starters had limited action, to be sure, but it’s never encouraging when your QB starts 0-for-6 and doesn’t connect once with Vincent Jackson or Adam Humphries. On a positive note, Mike Glennon’s best completion came on a 20-yard pass to Donteea Dye, who also returned the opening kick to the 32-yard line. Ultimately, though, the Bucs would certainly like to see more out of their starters in the passing game in the dress rehearsal against Cleveland next week.
The best QB to WR connection was Ryan Griffin hooking up with Jonathan Krause for 41 yards in the fourth quarter – a perfect throw and catch. Krause, who also returned a couple punts Saturday, finished with two receptions for a game-leading 50 yards. Krause, an undrafted rookie out of Vanderbilt in 2014 who’s bounced around a few practice squads, may have moved ahead of some receivers on the depth chart and earned a few more reps next Friday.
Kenny Bell nearly had a catch but took a hard hit that knocked the ball out, while Bernard Reedy added one catch to go along with two reverse handoffs for 18 yards. Evan Spencer, for his part, caught two passes for 27 yards before leaving the game with a knee injury.
In all, the Bucs seem to have some work cut out for them at wide receiver after Evans. It’s hard to find rhythm in the preseason, especially in the passing game, but a few more connections to Jackson and Humphries would ease fans’ concern before heading to Atlanta September 11.
Dirk Koetter on Sunday credited the O-Line’s performance in the inside running game, saying they did a nice job “knocking guys back” and creating lanes for Peyton Barber. And from a pass protection standpoint, the unit didn’t allow a sack until the fourth quarter.
The starting unit – with Evan Smith at center – didn’t stay in for long, and though the Bucs offense wasn’t in rhythm to start the game, there didn’t seem to be any glaring mistakes by the five-man front. Demar Dotson had some good moments isolated on the right side, and Donovan Smith seemed to be holding his own against Jags starting defensive ends, Dante Fowler and Tyson Alualu.
Ali Marpet, for his part, was likely the lead blocker on some of those nice inside runs Koetter was talking about. In all, it’s difficult to get a great impression of a cohesive unit when guys are constantly rotating in and hardly in sync. As Koetter told the media in Jacksonville last week, the good players have played pretty well, the bad players are playing pretty bad.
Cameron Brate didn’t have his best game Saturday night – one that was cut short by a big hit in the end zone during the first quarter. Before being shaken up, Brate also had an uncharacteristic drop that resulted in an interception on the first drive. He finished with no catches.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, meanwhile, put together a solid performance Saturday night. The 6-foot-5 tight end caught three passes for 36 yards, earning himself some more first-team reps, Dirk Koetter told reporters Sunday. As he’s often said throughout the offseason though, Koetter reiterated that both tight ends – Brate and Seferian-Jenkins – will play a big part in the Bucs offense this year.
Danny Vitale hasn’t had a standout game offensively yet, but he was once again solid on special teams Saturday night.
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.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I have said this in earlier posts but Mr. Koetter has to give Winston some easier throws to start the game.
Winston also appears to be way to amped up at the beginning of the games so he might want to give the job of pre game pep talk to the team to someone else since he seems to be getting more emotional about it than anyone else.
I thought the grades were fair and just. On Brates INT I think both contributed to it 50/50. It could have been a lot better throw but it also hit his hands.
been saying this to myself since last season… always seems to start games with tougher throws… has been one of my few gripes with Coach K
How did you get your avatar to work. Mine shows up on my profile but not here. Am I missing a step?
Jameis was so worked up his eyeballs were bugging out.
I think Drdneast put his finger on the problem as to why Winston always seems to start very poorly all the time. He is too hyped up at the start and needs easy throws to begin. The grades and observations were all good. The other problem Jameis has is red zone scoring which just happens to be Glennon’s strength. If this continues in the regular games you could do better just playing Glennon in the red zone. Jameis did make one great throw for a touchdown in this game, however, and there were no drops by our best WR this time!
Morning Scubog, PR friends, et. al
I follow you guys every morning. Try this for your avatar. Hope this works!
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I used Option 1. I know it works on the updated website. I have used Option 2 many times before the website update, assumes it still works.
Good luck, my friends. I look forward to chatting with you later! Go Bucs!
Thank you my friend. Welcome back!
Drd I agree. It’s very clear he is an emotional leader. Perhaps you are correct he should lead the pep talks to others. It seems he gets so amped up he can’t control his heart rate and emotional and he gets so excited he doesn’t set his feet and is completely inaccurate.
I also have had the same thought as you regarding starting with easy completion stuff until he can settle down. If the run wasn’t effective just think how badly this game would have went. Probably been 3 and out whole first qtr.
All good points in Jameis and his tendency to start a little shaky. I went back at watch the Titans vs. Panthers this past pre season week. I’m not trying to make this into a Winston/Mariota debate but more of how their offense started off crisp with easy reads and quick throws. This puts the offense in a rhythm and gives young QBs the confidence to eventually go and make the tough throws later into the game. We all know Jameis can do it. Let’s just let him build up to it first rather than right out of the gate.
I would keep an eye open for our sleeper so far? Center Ben Gottschalk. I thought he has looked pretty decent for a rookie who has played most of the 3rd & 4th qtr minutes of both games. If we put him on our PS, I think a team will grab him for their roster. I could see him the starting center in a year or two.
The only worry I have offensively is our lack of WR depth. Winston is known as a rough starter, but as well as he did last year it didn’t seem to hurt his production too much so not too worried about it.
I’m impressed with our RB depth, looks like there are some tough decisions coming up for Coach K and the staff.
Winston does do fine after he warms up but when you miss wide open guys beginning of every game it’s a drive killer. Slow starts could cost us some close games. Add to it FG kicker is wild at this point and I could see us losing lot of close games. It’s too early to get too nervous though.
You could be correct about the WR depth but I’m not sure Buc’s WR depth is that much worse than most other teams? Look at Dallas last year without Dez. Of course no Romo is what really did them all their backups stunk and the O line wasn’t as great run blocking as they were previous year.
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