Pewter Report editor-in-chief Scott Reynolds:
“Before fans start bemoaning Chris Simms for not throwing to a wide open Marcus Knight in the end zone on a broken play in the third quarter, just remember that Simms is a left-handed quarterback who was scrambling to his right. He would have had to throw across his body, or come to a dead stop, square his shoulders and then throw. And with a bevy of Jacksonville defenders breathing down his neck, neither option was too wise at the time. If Simms was right-handed, Knight, who was running a post pattern from left to right 30 yards downfield, might have come into his sight line and the potential could have been there for the throw. But because Simms is a lefty, he could not get an accurate pass off with enough strength to get it there – and that is even if Simms actually saw Knight on that play.”

“The real disappointing thing thus far for the Buccaneers has been their play in the trenches. Tampa Bay’s defensive line looks soft in the middle. Perhaps that’s because the team is playing without linebackers Derrick Brooks and Shelton Quarles. But the interior of the Bucs defense was still not stout enough last year even with Brooks, Quarles and even Warren Sapp in the lineup. Thank goodness the Bucs signed beefy nose tackle Oliver Gibson to help clog the middle. Undersized nose tackle Chartric Darby, who is 270 pounds, got run over pretty good for the second week in a row. Gibson may not be the prototype Bucs defensive lineman in that he may not be a quick, penetrating type player, but given the team’s inability to consistently stop the run last year and during this preseason, Gibson’s lack of quickness may have to be forgiven in favor of his girth and strength.”

“On the offensive side of the ball, the Bucs’ running game has failed to really come together, and a lot of the blame needs to rest on the shoulders of the injured and inept offensive line. Last week against Cincinnati, Tampa Bay’s running backs rushed for 73 yards on 23 carries (3.2 avg.). Against Jacksonville, the Bucs’ backs tallied just 35 yards on 10 carries (3.5 avg.), with quarterback Chris Simms scrambling for 22 yards on four carries alone. The Bucs’ longest run from scrimmage has been a 13-yarder from Jamel White last Monday against the Bengals.”

“One player who we saw emerge a bit tonight is second-year tight end Will Heller, who had three catches for 35 yards. While he couldn’t hang on to a low pass from Chris Simms, that may have been his only fault in the passing game. Heller became a real weapon on offense in the second half and if he can achieve some consistency, he has the tools to be a playmaking, chain-mover. While the team was hoping that he could make a run at the number two tight end job during the preseason, it may not be until mid-season when the 6-foot-6 Heller really begins making a push for more playing time. However, with two more preseason games to go, he has the opportunity to really make his case. In any event, it seems that he is pulling away from Dave Moore and Nate Lawrie for the role of the team’s third tight end.”

Pewter Report managing editor Leo Haggerty
“Tonight was a prime example as to why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers never want to play a Thursday Thanksgiving Day game unless they’re coming off a bye week. With the players having Tuesday off, the Buccaneers only had one practice to prepare for the Jaguars. The worst part of the deal was that the Wednesday practice, for whatever reason, ran 40 minutes overtime and was the hottest day of training camp. With Thursday being a walk-through practice and a travel day to Jacksonville, it’s not surprising that the Buccaneers had no legs in the Friday meeting of intrastate rivals. This team appeared to be flat – mentally and physically.”

“The Buccaneers defense did a superb job of keeping the Jags out of the end zone in the first quarter, but in my opinion, got a big helping hand from the officials. The catch made by Jaguars wideout Jimmy Smith over cornerback Brian Kelly was definitely a touchdown, regardless of the refs blowing the call and then the instant replay call, and here’s why. The rules for possession in the end zone are a little different than in the field of play. In the end zone, once you have both feet down and with possession of the football the play is over and it’s six points. In the field, you must maintain possession through the catch or the pass is ruled incomplete. The way Jacksonville destroyed Tampa Bay early in the game, every little bit helped.”

Pewter Report assistant editor Jim Flynn:
“Tampa Bay’s 14-6 loss to Jacksonville on Friday night was about as ugly as losses come, but the score did the Jags a diservice and the Bucs a favor. Jacksonville missed three field goals and had a pass intercepted in Tampa Bay’s end zone in the first quarter alone. The Bucs were outgained 339-152 yards and converted just 2-of-13 third down attempts, which is pathetic. There weren’t a whole lot of positives that came out of Friday night’s game for Tampa Bay, but the good news is the Bucs’ sloppy performance can be attributed to the fact that the Pewter Pirates played two preseaosn games in five days. The Bucs have eight days before they play their next preseason contest.”

“After watcing quarterback Brian Griese run the second-team offense Friday night, it’s quite apparent who the Bucs’ No. 2 signal caller will be this season. No, it’s not Griese, who completed just 2-of-7 passes for 8 yards. Brad Johnson’s backup will likely be second-year QB Chris Simms, who wasn’t great on Friday night, but played better than both Johnson and Griese. Simms showed good command of the offense and led the team to two scoring drives, both of which resulted in Martin Gramatica field goals. Simms completed 13-of-23 passes for 104 yards and rushed for 22 yards on four carries against the Jags and provided a few of Tampa Bay’s highlights on Friday night.”

“There’s been a lot of hype surrounding cornerback Ronde Barber and safeties Dwight Smith and Jermaine Phillips, but don’t be surprised if Brian Kelly turns out to be Tampa Bay’s best defensive back this season. Kelly had a phenomnal training camp and both of his outings in the team’s first two preseason games have been impressive. In the first quarter, Kelly got a hand on a pass thrown by Jags quarterback Byron Leftwich, which led to linebacker Keith Burns’ interception in the end zone. Later, Kelly prevented another touchdown by getting a hand in to cause Jags WR Jimmy Smith to drop what would have been a touchdown reception while falling out of bounds. Kelly, who might be Tampa Bay’s most physical defensive back, has been a playmaker and seems poised for a breakout year in 2004.”

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