The PewterReport.com Roundtable features the opinions of the PR staff as it tackles a topic each week that involves the Bucs.

This week’s topic: Which Buc Needs To Step Up In Carolina?

Scott Reynolds: CB Carlton Davis

The obvious choice is quarterback Jameis Winston, but I’ll let someone else profile him. Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis had a rough outing the last time he was in Carolina. As a rookie he was hurdled by running back Christian McCaffrey on a big gain, and was inches away from breaking up a touchdown pass to wide receiver Curtis Samuel in the end zone in Tampa Bay’s 42-28 loss in Carolina. Davis was credited with just four tackles on the day, and even after making a great play on third down to force a punt in the second half, the rookie from Auburn then was flagged for celebrating his good deed too much, as he taunted wide receiver Devin Funchess.

Bucs CB Carlton Davis
Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR

Davis is someone that needs to have some good fortune go his way, and Week 2 against the Panthers would be an ideal time for that to happen. Davis missed the Bucs vs. Panthers rematch in Tampa Bay, which was won by the men in red and pewter, so he’ll get his second shot at Carolina on Thursday night.

Davis is still looking for his first career interception, and came close to perhaps achieving that feat last week in Tampa Bay’s 31-17 loss to San Francisco if only he had a bit better ball awareness on a few errant throws. The 6-foot-1 cornerback did make a splash play when he recovered a fumble in the Bucs’ red zone in the second quarter, but later nullified a Jordan Whitehead sack on fourth-and-2 at the Tampa Bay 36-yard line with a 5-yard defensive holding penalty that continued San Francisco’s drive that would end with a field goal.

Davis needs to make more splash plays in Carolina and stay away from penalties. Getting his first career interception off Cam Newton was be a nice trophy for the second-year cornerback.

Mark Cook: QB Jameis Winston

I almost went with wide receiver Mike Evans who had his worst game as a professional last year in Carolina. But after debating it has to be quarterback Jameis Winston. The train can’t drive without the engineer and this offense can’t run without the quarterback, and that just happens to be Winston.

After the game on Sunday I was perplexed, confused and stunned at what we saw from Winston. While I knew there will be growing pains in a new offense, I never envisioned three interceptions against a 49ers defense that had a grand total of two interceptions all of 2018. Two.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But after listening to the coaches this week, while also re-watching it, it wasn’t quite as bad as it first appeared. Two of the three interceptions weren’t on Winston according to head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich. Unfortunately the one that was clearly on Winston was the last one and the most damning. Quarterback reputations are made with fourth quarter comebacks. And this was the perfect opportunity to show the NFL, the fans and the Buccaneers organization that this was his year. Go down and score a touchdown and all of the previous 58 minutes of struggles would be forgiven. It wasn’t to be as Winston threw an inexcusable pass on first down that the 49ers returned for their second score of the day.

Thursday night is another one of these “opportunity” game for Winston. And Winston is running out of time. Winston doesn’t have to necessarily win the game, but don’t lose it.

Trevor Sikkema: OC Byron Leftwich

Look, I’m just going to say it. I didn’t love the game plan and the play designs from the Buccaneers in their first game of the season. After watching the All-22, I saw a lot of the same stuff that Dirk Koetter was doing; long routes, asking Winston to hit tough throw on a consistent basis, not a lot of stuff over the middle. It just didn’t look easy — we assumed it was going to be an offense that made things easier for Winston. Instead we were getting comeback routes on 3rd-and-10, out routes on 3rd-and-5, odd spacing down the field, nothing much over the middle, and not a lot of play action.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Maybe it’s just a matter of the quarterback and the play caller getting in sync. Perhaps there were layers of plays that I didn’t see from my first week of viewing this new offense. But, as I re-watched that game, the offensive line wasn’t as bad as I thought it was — it still wasn’t great — and even Winston’s initial blame seemed slightly too harsh. But where I became more worry after my second look of the game was in the play calling and the play designs.

I have a feeling the Panthers are going to push the Bucs to keep up this week. Running back Christian McCaffrey and guys like Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore are going to be tough matchups for players like Calton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Devin White. I believe the Bucs are going to have to score at least 20 to keep up in this one.

Can this offense keep things simple and less predictable against Carolina? We didn’t see that last week.

Taylor Jenkins: TE O.J. Howard

After being drafted with the 19th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, O.J. Howard has entered his past two seasons with the Bucs’ carrying huge expectations. He’s shown flashes of brilliance but has also failed to finish either season healthy, missing the final six weeks of the 2018 season with an ankle injury.

Bucs TE OJ Howard - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs TE OJ Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

He hauled in 6 touchdowns in his rookie season while starting 14 games and all of his numbers jumped in his sophomore year. In 2018, over 10 games, Howard’s catch percentage rose, his receptions per game more than doubled to 3.4 and he totaled 565 yards and five touchdowns on 34 receptions.

His expectations to start 2019 were no different as everyone looked at Tampa Bay to see how new head coach Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator would take advantage of such a powerful weapon whose athleticism and blocking ability allow him to stay on the field for a high percentage of the team’s snaps, but it wasn’t the debut Howard or the Bucs were hoping for.

Specifically, in the first half Tampa Bay had two red zone touchdowns to Cam Brate called back on holding penalties to Demar Dotson, but were in prime position to add three points and bring the score even at 3-3 with San Francisco until Howard fumbled the ball on a third down reception and gave the ball back to the 49ers. Then, with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, Tampa Bay took over with a chance to drive down the field and add to a 7-6 lead before halftime but on the first play of the drive a pass to Howard went off his hands and was intercepted by the 49ers linebacker Mark Nzeocha.

Howard is a huge weapon for Tampa Bay’s offense and a big bounce back performance will be important if the Bucs want to pull out a win against Carolina on a short week.

Matt Matera: OLB Carl Nassib

Besides from Jameis Winston, one of the next choices is Carl Nassib. Named as team captain for the first time in his career, Nassib was expected to step up without Jason Pierre-Paul around, but his presence was hardly felt in the Bucs opener.

As team captain, more responsibility gets put onto your shoulders, and while he might be good presence in the locker room, it did not translate to last Sunday. He only registered two tackles against the 49ers, and what was even worse was that he had no quarterback pressure or really came close to touching quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles mentioned that Garoppolo did a good job of getting the ball out quick, but Nassib’s fellow edge rusher Shaq Barrett still managed to get a sack.

Bucs DE Carl Nassib - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DE Carl Nassib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Facing Cam Newton this Thursday is a much tougher challenge with his size and ability to run. Coach Bowles likes to blitz but the Bucs can’t rely on that all the time. They’ll need Nassib to pick it up and put his stamp on this game. I have no doubts that Nassib can regroup, but the Bucs need to have the kind of play that Nassib brought last year, the Carl Nassib that played with a chip on his shoulder after getting cut by the Cleveland Browns. He’s supposed to be the top edge rusher on the Bucs’ 2019 defense, and he doesn’t have the luxury of the opposing offense having to worry about Pierre-Paul on the other side of him for the next month or two.

Nassib has the tools to lead the team in sacks. One game won’t tell the whole story, but it was apparent that he needs to step up. Cam Newton is not an easy quarterback to play against but someone has to stop him, and Nassib needs to be a factor if the Bucs have a chance of pulling out a victory on the road.

Previous articleBucs At Panthers Injury Report: 9/11
Next articleBucs at Panthers Final Inactives
Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

44 COMMENTS

  1. Devin White.

    For this defense to reach the next level D. White needs to start to build momentum.

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    • Spot-on….where was the 5th overall pick – he looked more like an UDFA.

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      • Last game he was trying to play through that tonsillitis sickness which, according to Jenna Laine, was really bad. He had to go through a bunch of $hit to be able to play; struggled to breathe, lost weight, couldn’t eat or drink, needed multiple IV bags. However, he’s better now heading into this game so now we can hopefully see the Devin White that was drafted.

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        • I read the same thing. Yet we have all these “coaches” who don’t even know what the man is going through, already labeling him a bust. I’d love to see any of these couch coaches play through tonsillitis. I’ve never had it, but I know a friend who did and he was confined to his bed because of the pain and discomfort. Let this kid play healthy before we go crucifying him. He lost ten pounds for goodness sake. Yikes. He showed he’s a top five pick by playing 63 snaps! Now as far as the game goes, please god let them show up and put up a fight.

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          • Nope – it’s not “coaches”, it’s fans…fans are the ones that observe the play and call out the team when needed. Coaches are the ones that choose the lineups and call the plays.

            Nope – not good enough to suit-up, miss tackles all day long, get stiff-armed for ten extra yards by no-name RBs….and then blame the poor play on being sick. We have not one, but two other MLBs that could have played in his place and made no excuses.

            Nope – If he’s too sick to play well, then next man up, but don’t give that garbage performance, blame it all on feeling ill, and expect that’s all just fine. The 9ers didn’t care – they didn’t take it easy – they just won the damn game.

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          • Plus…

            Nope – nobody is calling Devin White a bust after 1 game…

            Nope – just because we don’t accept excuses doesn’t mean we are too hard on the rookie….he needs to learn that 100% is what’s needed in the NFL….if he’s bed-ridden then let Cichy play, go to the doctor and get better.

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    • Agreed: Devin White. McCaffrey is the key to slowing down the Kitties.

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  2. It’s Jamies.

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  3. Fredster how many times you called me for being a moron now you can call Nate Burleson a moron he stated on a nationally syndicated sports telecast “quote” Jameis Winston will be competing for a backup QB on another team next year!!!!
    I will go one further Jameis Winston will be competing for a Rooster spot next year on another team!

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    • Better a Rooster than a hen.

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    • Please please please show up tonight and steal one from the Panthers. Is Cam going after the buckwheat look with his new do????????????

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  4. Trevor Sikkema, Thank you for stepping up and mentioning the coaching/play calling. I thought that the defensive play calling was as good as the offensive play calling was poor. This was a game that the Bucs should have won.

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  5. Leftwich is the X factor in this whole equation, we all knew who & what Winston was… The question coming into the season was how this coaching staff was going to adapt to the talent on the team. Well so far they get an “F” because this team was ill prepared in several areas at home on Sunday. Leftwich is making the same mistakes Koetter was making by asking Winston to stand in the pocket and complete these long developing routes called “Chunk Plays” and this oline can’t hold a block that long. I would like to see them run the ball more & take the underneath routes to force the safeties into the box and then take your shot down field. You can’t get too greedy with Winston and expect to win, you have to use the other weapons around him to set him up to be successful. It’s almost like they haven’t watched any tape of Winston over the last 4 years and doing the same stuff that got Koetter fired. Let’s do better!

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  6. MIKE EVANS. Yes, I know he was sick against the 49ers………… perhaps more than we thought. I think part of the reason Jameis struggled was because of the relative absence of #13.

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  7. All of our first round picks of the last six years struggled except for VH3. Mike Evans and Devin White battling sickness. Vita Vea coming off injury. OJ Howard mistakes and Winston pick sixes.

    We definitely need more from our first round picks in this next game! I’m confident they will show better in this one overall. GO BUCS!

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    • Yup. The fate of this team really rests on how the Bucs first rounders perform this season.

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  8. All of the above! The whole damn team including the coaches. Mark Cook, Jameis doesn’t have to win the game, just don’t lose it. No! At some point this season Jameis has to win a game. That’s what franchise QB’s do. Jameis is 0-12 on the road, and not much better at home. He’s the leader of the team, lead us to a win, or go play baseball for some major league farm team. As far as D. White goes, take the green dot off his helmet, and put it on David. Let the kid play fast without having to worry about getting everyone else lined up. For such a large coaching staff, with sooo many smart football minds, why does Surfedudes have to tell you a simple thing like that?

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  9. Certain Dumb-ass
    (not even reading his stupid posts or mentioning his name because that’s what gives him his jollies)
    people here just going to harp on Winston, but Oh there are plenty of choices here for crappy player of week besides Winston for sure. It was bad outing for the offense in general.

    Howard sucked and caused two turnovers (we need Winston with confidence and he drops perfect ball to be intercepted for int. No 1) I’m sure certain dipshit trolls were overjoyed and saying see Winston sucks even though it was 100 % Howard’s fault.

    Dotson negated 2 TD’s although 1 was questionable,white (although maybe sick still) did nothing, Evans (maybe sick too) was worthless,etc etc.

    I agree with Trevor the play calling was not good. Every time Jones had 4 or 5 good runs and D was gassed I kept saying here comes play action, but nope.

    So I’ll say the obvious Winston has to avoid that last turnover and no excuse for it throw it away! That was dumb do not do it again.

    However if the other pieces I mentioned don’t play better on offense there will be zero chance of winning tonight even if Winston plays great and doesn’t turn It over.

    If anyone thinks you can win with TE causing 2 turnovers, and having two TDs cancelled on penalties and your best WR doing jack shit to separate, enjoy that fantasy.

    On defense several things looked bad to me although overall was great improvement over last year for game 1 of new system and several new players.

    Every time Jimmy G bootlegged the whole defense followed him and bit so hard the whole other side of field was empty. Lol. They also bit hard on every play action. I know they are young but it’s something Bowles has to correct quickly. Also noticed Suh and Vea are stout as touted in middle. Niners gave up running up middle but I think they had too much success on bouncing it outside with stretch plays that seemed to gain 5-15 yards every time. I don’t have stats just going by what my gut said and I saw. Perhaps it’s not as bad as it seemed. This is where I though White would flourish running side line to sideline with his speed.

    Go Bucs!

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  10. Oh and special teams sucked and Dare Ogunbowale has been a joke on blocking. Thanks for the blocked punt! Carolina will make you pay dearly if he does it again. That cat needs to learn how to block or take the C off his helmet!

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  11. Mark Cook said this on Twitter last night and I truly believe it.

    @MarkCook1970
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    I know Bucs fans look at this game Thursday night and say, “we’ve seen this movie before.” And it may not have a happy ending. But the difference in this year versus any since Jon Gruden was here is – Bruce Arians. It will turn around under Bruce. Maybe not Thursday but it will.

    Amen! Go Bucs!

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  12. Devin White. McCaffrey is a beast and if White doesn’t show up right he’s going to look silly. I’ve been disappointed in how invisible he’s been up this point. This is his chance to use his talent to neutralize the opposing teams strength.

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    • That was his first game in the NFL and he was ill as well. I think Devin gets a pass on that one. Tonight will really be his first game as a healthy player, but then again he didn’t get a normal full ‘NFL’ week of prep. So I look for a slight improvement. But the next game should be his game to shine and really step up. If he does it tonight, then that would be awesome and would say a lot about the kind of player he is. Still too early to call him out I think.

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    • Agreed. Stop Mcaffrey if the Bucs do nothing else. Make Cam beat you he is not 100%. Also, Olsen has always been a thorn for the Bucs. Even if they don’t sack Cam keep hitting him. He has shown in the past he looses interest fast when teams do this.

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  13. Also Arians was stupid for going for it on 4th and 2. He killed momentum and could been 3 point game with most of 4th qtr left. Instead we end up backed up on goal line in bad situation.

    This panthers defense is better than Niners IMO and you take the points in a game that’s close with almost whole 4th qtr left.

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  14. If the Bucs are going to throw the ball then the oline needs to get better. If they want to just run the ball 50 times then they are fine.

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  15. need the offensive line to keep Mccoy off the QB since he is bent on revenge. Need a paas rush to sack Cam as many times as possible. Need a QB to not throw stupid interceptions. Do this we might win the game.

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  16. Mac, I respect your views, and hope you’re right about Arains. However,I’m afraid the game might have passed him by. I was one of those who thought the Bucs should’ve blown the whole thing up last year, starting with a new G.M., who had no stake in the current roster. Wanted a new set of eyes, and a G.M. who’d pick a young head coach who’s more in tune with the college game, and players of today. Both new young coaches for G.B., and AZ had better debuts then the Bucs had under Arains. AZ with a rookie getting his first ever NFL start, and his young coach calling his first ever NFL game. Every team is running some type of college RPO except the Bucs. Every team is running misdirection, and roll outs except what I saw from the Bucs. Like I said, I hope you’re right about B.A.. This is going one of two ways. The second way being a total disaster.

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    • Surfer, the Bucs have had good players (need more) but what they lacked was a discipline and winning attitude. Everywhere Arians has been he changed that and won. I don’t buy the Obi Wan Kenobi or Whisperer effect. He is no magician, just a great motivator that has helped several players reach their potential. I hope he can do that with Winston. If not I’m sure he is not above finding someone who can win – always has.

      Time passes us all by in one way or another. And perhaps Arians has seen his best days. But what was the alternative? We haven’t had a winning coach since Gruden. Any coach, young or old, taking over the Bucs is going to need time. For every young coach like McVea that have found success, three others have failed.

      I get what you mean by employing new ideas like RPO and I think they have that in mind. That is why they’re holding on to QB Nick Fitzgerald. They see what Taysom Hill is doing with the Saints but those are things that cannot be done right away with success. It’s a step at a time. We are slowly seeing this new offense evolve and the players are still learning it. My belief is that I think BA can do it. Time will tell. Go Bucs!

      PS. Not my down vote. lol.

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      • I agree with this.

        Don’t be surprised if the Bucs are already scouting college QB’s that incorporate the RPO. Arians played against the Seahawks for many years and saw first hand what it could do. This year the Cardinals threw everything they had to bring in Murray to do the same thing and imitate the Seahawks strategy on offense.

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      • Mac, I agree with you; it’s been about the DL & OL for several years now.

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  17. All of em. They all need to step up. Every Game, Every Play, All Day. Do that and let’s see how we do.

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  18. Trevor nailed it on the offensive side. Play design and simple north-south over-the middle PA plays will move the stix but introduce less risk. This offense with a struggling O-Line does not need to add risk. If we start moving through the run and slot plays, we can get some down field strikes when Carolina tightens up.

    Defense it has to be Devin White. Even if Nassib, Suh, Vea, Nacho, ect. get penetration Mr. Pimp Suit can run and Devin needs to chase his tail down. McCaffrey is dangerous and Devin needs to use his speed to limit his damage. He is in the center of the defense and thus has the greatest radius of impact. He was relatively invisible in his first game, today he needs to make his presence known.

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  19. None of you at PR, mentioned the O line. They must step up as well!

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    • Yup if the OL steps up this offense can perform. No question.

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    • O line has been a weakness since the Bucs 1st season. It doesn’t matter who the owner, general manager, or coach is. Leftwich just needs to have a dozen plays that the offense can execute perfectly and run them. Suh and Vea needs to hit Cam over and over. Hit Macffery until he can’t remember his name.

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  20. This is a playoff game at Carolina and next week with Giants, the Panthers are favoured on all las vegas boards I feel it is a tough game a loss at Panthers is huge it is a must-win.
    Jameis has games he looks good this is one he needs to look great, things need click next week they have 50/50 only if Bucs win tonight. a loss tonight could bring the whole ship down due to that road schedule coming up after giants.
    Its go time Jameis

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    • Don’t sweat it Bob… Madden 20 has the Bucs beating the panthers 19-7 with Cam throwing 3 INTs including a pick 6 by David, and the Buc not allowing any points in the final three quarters

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  21. I’ll stick with the same 3-keys to success from my pre-season comment:

    1) Fully agree with trevor – Leftwich needs to design an offense that works for Jameis and the OLine….no more slow down-field routes, no more outside the hash-mark 5-yarders…

    2) Bowles needs to create a pass rush…stuffing the run is nice, but we need pressure on Cam.

    3) turnovers!!!! – killed us in game 1.

    Go Bucs!

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  22. The defense is going to have to carry this team until the offense can catch on to what BA wants to carry out offensively. As the games go by can BA keep from taking over play calling? It was just a bad game all round week 1, and I would like to think week 2 will be better just because I believe coaching is much better this season as opposed to the past.

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  23. I agree with Trevor about the play calling. I watched the game on Game Pass and noticed on the showing that often when Winston throw a pass the receiver was covered and 1 or 2 other Buc receivers were standing around within 5 yards of the primary WR. Buc receivers were in clusters much of the night drawing multiple defenders to the area. It could have been receivers running the wrong routes in a new offense, but you would think they would have learned the routes practiced since May.

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  24. Gotta agree with my boy Trevor. The offensive gameplan was atrocious. Winston was awful, but he was also set up for failure with our playcalling. Why aren’t we setting up easier throws? The Raiders dinked and dunked their way to a win over the Broncos, let Winston do that! Come on!

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  25. OJ Howard; his performance Sunday hurt us the most; next was Dotson.

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  26. D white had six tackles for the game,I thing that’s a good game for a rookie.

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  27. 100% with Trevor.. Watching the All-22 was DISTURBING. Winston can’t throw that last INT but man was this the most incompetent game plan I’ve seen for a long time. I am hoping Arians let Leftwich alone for game 1 and will be more involved from here out. The receivers standing around near each other on nearly every pass play was a troubling sight.

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