Roberto Aguayo was perfect on the night – Photo: Cliff Welch/PR
Where to begin on this one. Coach Dirk Koetter emphasized getting off to a fast start and the Bucs came out firing on all cylinders Friday night. Jameis Winston was locked in, Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson didn’t miss a beat, Kwon Alexander was flying around as late as the third quarter and, perhaps most impressive of all, Roberto Aguayo was perfect on the night. The 30-13 win, 16 days before the Bucs head to Atlanta for the first real game, was exactly the type of dress rehearsal you draw up. Here’s the long list of PewterReport.com’s Most Impressive players Friday.
QB JAMEIS WINSTON
After a slow start in Jacksonville last Saturday, Winston looked to be in midseason form in the first quarter Friday, completing his first two passes for 23 and 16 yards and leading a 13-play scoring drive on the next series. From throws on the run to Vincent Jackson to deep balls and quick slants to Mike Evans and Adam Humphries, Winston seemed to cover all bases on the QB highlight reel. Koetter had seen enough by halftime. Winston finished his night 16-of-25 for 259 yards and two touchdowns.
WR MIKE EVANS
Evans was on the receiving end of catches for 16, 47 and 34 yards, the latter two coming within three plays of each other. He beat Browns CB Justin Gilbert on a deep route down the sideline, dropped in by Winston, and came back to go over top of CB Jamar Taylor for a 34-yard TD in the second quarter. The third-year pro finished with five receptions for 115 yards.
WR VINCENT JACKSON
If there were any critics who said Jackson had lost a step, he silenced them on Friday. The 33-year old WR was Winston’s favorite target in the early going, catching two passes on the opening drive and back-to-back passes for 18 and 31 yards on the first series of the second quarter. Jackson went over the middle for the second one, took a low hit and immediately popped back up. He finished his night with 78 yards on four receptions.
WR ADAM HUMPHRIES
Special teams were clicking on all phases Friday night and Humphries was the star of the Bucs return game. He took a 52-yard punt 73 yards back to the end zone at the end of the first quarter, the first punt return for a TD in the preseason for Tampa Bay since Dexter Jackson in 2008. Humphries, nicknamed by his teammates, “First-down Hump,” also converted a third-and-5 with a 16-yard reception from Winston in the second quarter. Four plays earlier on the drive, which the Bucs eventually scored on, Humphries caught a 23-yard pass on second down. Humphries finished his night offensively with two receptions for 39 yards.
LB KWON ALEXANDER
On Josh McCown’s QB sneak in the third quarter, Alexander could be seen diving over the pile, in a preseason game, to try to make a stop. Five plays later he recorded a sack on third-and-21. If the second-year linebacker is in the game, he’s flying around and making plays. Friday night was no different. Alexander finished with a game-leading seven tackles, multiple for a loss or no gain, and one sack.
DEs ROBERT AYERS, NOAH SPENCE and JACQUIES SMITH
Ayers seemed to be in Robert Griffin III’s face throughout the first half, recording .5 of a sack (shared with Gerald McCoy) and forcing a fumble on the same play. Spence, meanwhile, was credited with his first career sack when he brought down RGIII at the end of the second quarter. And Smith contributed two sacks, both on third down. The veteran defensive ends finished the night with seven tackles and three sacks combined, while the rookie notched five and one, respectively. It was a promising night for Bucs’ edge rushers.
DT GERALD MCCOY
The Bucs sorely missed McCoy’s presence on the defensive line last Saturday, but the Pro Bowl tackle returned to action and was in full force for the dress rehearsal. He shared a sack with Ayers in the second quarter and played no small part in the Browns limited rushing attack in the first half. McCoy had another two tackles on Friday.
K ROBERTO AGUAYO
There was a collective exhale at Raymond James Stadium when Roberto Aguayo on the first drive drilled a 48-yard field goal, the second-longest field goal of the preseason. There will be critics who say that 48 yards, from a second-round pick, shouldn’t be considered impressive, rather expected, but given the circumstance, that was a big kick. No one was under more pressure this week than Aguayo and he delivered. He was 3-for-3 on field goals – 48, 21 and 27 yards – 3-for-3 on PATs and all seven of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. Aguayo calmed the Bay Area faithful down for at least a week.
Honorable Mention: Howard Jones (sack), Kourtnei Brown (sack), Bernard Reedy (43-yard punt return) and Johnthan Banks (tight coverage in the second half)
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@example.com
Praise Begeezus. Our Kicker showed up and how. What a game. Just what I needed to calm my buccaneer nerves. Winston looked amazing and so did our receivers. And what is this ? A punt return for a TD ? I thought I was listening to the wrong game. 8 sacks ? wow.
26 we were both obviously experiencing what is known as a Folie à deux.
Nah, it was pure reality and as in a folie a deux everyone is happy
60 sacks this season. Smoking my stuff again. GO BUCS
I think the O-line should get a mention. A re-made line did a good job keeping the pocket. clean.
Plus, the penalties were down. All good to see.
Actually if not for Winston’s ability to scramble they would have had several sacks. He faced a lot of pressure but moved enough to get passes off or run. We need our guards to return…….SOON!!!
Agreed. The were plenty of plays where Jameis had lots of time. It was noticed in the stands. Sure Jameis created some time, but clearly the OL played well despite being down two starting G’s and Pamphile.
i thought Adam humpfres played well and should have had honorable mention
I think it would help to read the article before commenting. Adam DID play very well and…….?
I thought Johnthan Banks had a great night, too, breaking up a couple of passes in tight coverage. It would have been interesting to see how the much taller Banks might have done instead of Grimes covering the excellent Josh Gordon.
I thought so too
Lots of positives in last night’s exhibition game. Crowd was decent albeit too many Browns fans who no doubt live right here. The new stadium features, including the sound system, are first class. I too thought the O-line deserves some recognition playing without starters Dotson, Marpet and well……..Sweezy as well as Evan Smith being called on for double-duty as were others that go unnoticed. Even Kenny Bell finally had a catch. Both punters did well.
I couldn’t watch Aguyaos first kick. I couldn’t take the pressure lol. Hopefully he’s gotten his head right after a bad couple weeks.
This was best Buc’s game I’ve seen in a while. Aguayo made the kicks, but a few were very close to crossbars. I hope he’s done with the missing non sense and this fixes his confidence. You like to see most short FG’s and extra points drilled down the middle, but Will see what happens. Was very encouraging since we are stuck with him.
Winston looked great. O line should have got mentioned he had mostly very clean pockets. It was a total domination and Browns aren’t a great team but they didn’t look that bad in their first two pre season games. D looked sharp other than that blown TD by Grimes. Not sure why he stopped like it was a stop route. RG111 throws a damn good deep ball. They keep throwing deep and not being balanced he’s not going to last long.
Haven’t looked at the stat, but thought we struggled against the run in the 1st half. Jameis was awesome moving in and out of the pocket. Humphries is a “slot” for sure, though he did drop a good ball. Buc receiver depth looks a little shallow. Need to mention all of Aguayo’s kickoffs were not returned – that’s big this year. Lastly, our DE group owned their OL. Go Bucs!
VERY impressive game played by our young Buccaneers. And the stadium upgrades? Fantastic! Things are looking up my friends, things are looking up.
I know it’s preseason, but when it was starters vs. starters, the Bucs laid the wood on… well, the Browns… But, that’s what then need to do to be competitive. Beating the weaker teams soundly is part of developing that winning foundation. Eight sacks? Nice! Good to see the sacks coming from different players. Depth at DE is really going to help the whole defense this year.
It is only pre season but I think the Fans needed a game like that where all three fazes looked competent and productive as much as the whole Bucs organization did. I think this was huge for team confidence week one. If we can beat the Falcons that could really make a whole different start for this season. I think this team would really feed off a week one win going into Arizona. I have a feeling C Palmer wont play that whole game. Day dreaming now. anyway, Great game! Come on week one! GO BUCS!!!
Cant remember the last time if ever I said great game after a pre season game. lol
How can you leave out the rookie Center Gottschalk? Hawley goes out with an injury and Gottschalk comes in and we get 7 points. He also played the whole 2nd half and no one was coming up the middle on him. Seriously he will be our starting Center next season. Start focusing on No. 72, he is the surprise of the rookie free agents so far in my book. Go Bucs!
Good observation Horse.
Nice catch! Very impressive play from the rookie.
Another positive was we got thru that pre season game with minimal injuries. That’s exciting! GO BUCS!!!
Nice report on the clear gems – agree with the assessments. I’d like to point out a few unsung heros on the day that played well IMO but won’t show on the stat sheet.
1) ASJ – I thought his blocking was excellent. Several times he was left to handle the DE and did admirable.
2) Alt Verner – I thought showed the best coverage on the night.
3) J Banks – as @russmillerwy said…nice game, even if it was against 2nd stringers.
How about some love for Will Gholston? Seems like he plays his ass off every game and no one notices. Anyway the Bucs have some nasty!!!! DEs now. Ayers has already paid off. NIce pick up Licht.
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