FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• The Bucs finished the 2019 preseason with a 3-1 record with Tampa Bay’s only loss coming in the opener at Pittsburgh by a score of 30-28. That was the game new head coach Bruce Arians went for a two-point conversion three times and came up empty. Had Tampa Bay kicked three extra points, the team would have had a perfect preseason record. Does that matter? To Arians, winning in the preseason does matter.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and Steelers coach Mike Tomlin – Photo by: Getty Images

“I think your first three years you have to establish a winning attitude and a winning culture,” Arians said. “After your third year, let’s just get to the first game healthy with everybody because I know what I have. I think teaching guys and finding ways to win, whether it’s guys that got cut or not, it still permeates through your body.”

The Bucs had some bright spots in the preseason, including the stellar play of third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin and backup tight end Tanner Hudson, the emergence of key reserves like running back Dare Ogunbowale and defensive tackle Rakeem “Nacho” Nunez-Roches, and the pass rush that outside linebacker Shaq Barrett brought.

Oh, and the Bucs found a kicker in rookie Matt Gay. That was kind of important, too, as was the play of a turnover-free Jameis Winston in three games.

But what were some areas of concern heading into the 2019 regular season? The offensive line giving up five sacks in a half against Cleveland was a big one, especially with new starter Alex Cappa surrendering two. But let’s dive deeper.

While second-year running back Ronald Jones II had a much better preseason and looked like a competent NFL rusher, where was the big-play ability? The team keeps raving about Jones’ speed, but we’ve yet to see it.

In 61 total carries from both preseasons and his regular season as a rookie, Jones’ longest carry has been 10 yards, and that came this past August. That’s a concern. If it hasn’t happened yet, will it happen?

Bucs ILB Devin White
Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Another concern is the play of rookie inside linebacker Devin White, the team’s first-round pick. White didn’t post a tackle against Pittsburgh or Miami and had just two tackles and one assist in the Cleveland game. We’ve yet to see a splash play from White, either.

That doesn’t mean a slew of tackles and splash plays aren’t coming, but by comparison, Steelers rookie inside linebacker Devin Bush, who was also a first-round pick, recorded 18 tackles in the preseason, including 11 in one half against Tampa Bay in the opener.

The Bucs are expecting better play from Cappa and the offensive line, in addition to Jones and White in the regular season. Let’s hope we see it.

• Another area of concern for the Bucs is the health of free safety Justin Evans, who finally returned to practice two weeks ago after missing all of the offseason and training camp with an Achilles tendon injury. Evans practiced the week leading up to the Dallas preseason game, but experienced soreness and hasn’t practiced since.

The team is very worried about the health of Evans’ heel, as it just won’t seem to heal. There is some concern over how long the Bucs can keep him on the 53-man roster as Tampa Bay enters the 49ers game with just three healthy safeties in Jordan Whitehead, newcomer Darian Stewart and rookie Mike Edwards, who is coming off a preseason hamstring injury.

Bucs FS Justin Evans
Bucs FS Justin Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

If an injury were to occur against San Francisco in the season opener, the Bucs would be down to just two safeties, and lack depth. That might force Tampa Bay to give up on Evans and place him on injured reserve, which is where he finished the 2018 season after his toe injury got so bad that the team shut him down last November.

The Bucs have cross-trained nickel cornerback M.J. Stewart at strong safety, but MO linebacker Deone Bucannon would be the first player to sub in at safety if needed, so the team does have some reinforcements at the position if the safety spot takes a hit against the 49ers. Both Whitehead and Edwards can play free safety, but this is definitely an area of concern heading into the regular season.

• There was a time when Tampa Bay’s roster was littered with Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles and Miami Hurricanes back in the 1990s, as those colleges were among the elite teams in college football back in the day. Now the school most represented on the 2019 Buccaneers is Wisconsin, as there are three Badgers on the 53-man roster in nose tackle Beau Allen, running back Dare Ogunbowale and inside linebacker Jack Cichy, as well as safety D’Cota Dixon, who is on injured reserve.

Bucs DT Beau Allen
Bucs DT Beau Allen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

All four former Badgers were in attendance Friday night as their alma mater came to town to beat the University of South Florida, 49-0, at Raymond James Stadium.

“That was really fun having those guys come down here,” Allen said. “It’s kind of rare to catch a Badgers game. I think I’ve been to two since I’ve been in the league. It was kind of cool to be on the visitors side for a change and start the season with a win.”

Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor, last year’s leading rusher in college football and a player who is considered to be the top running back prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft, had four touchdowns in the win. For a defensive player like Cichy, he liked the fact that Wisconsin got a shutout, which came on the heels of his stellar performance at Dallas on Thursday night when he had a handful of tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.

So which night was better – Thursday night or Friday night?

“Both were pretty good!” Cichy said. “I had a good week. Luckily the Badgers came down and capped it off pretty well. It was fun with me, Dare, Beau, D’Cota and a few former teammates were all on the field for the first quarter and that was a great, fun time – to see those first scores and the offense clicking. And of course the defense played great, too.”

• THE PEWTER NATION PODCAST – 2x PER WEEK! The 2019 regular season is finally here and that means a pre-game Pewter Nation Podcast and a post-game Pewter Nation Podcast are on tap each week for you – Pewter Nation! The Pewter Reporters taped the Bucs vs. 49ers pre-game podcast on Wednesday, so make sure you give that a listen before Sunday’s kickoff. The next Pewter Nation Podcast will be taped at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night – so be on the look out for that as part of our post-game coverage.

Click here to listen to Pewter Nation Podcast Episode 142: The Truth Comes Out

Next week, the Bucs travel to Carolina for a Thursday Night Football game against the NFC South division rival Panthers. Because of the short week, we’ll be taping our Bucs vs. Panthers pre-game podcast on Tuesday at the AdventHealth Training Center, and we’ll have a post-game podcast for you on Friday.

There is no better time to listen to a new Pewter Nation Podcast, which is presented by Chris Garrido of Westshore Financial, than on your drive home from work on Friday or running around doing errands or at the gym on Saturday.

The popularity of the Pewter Nation Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Nation Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. And of course the Pewter Nation Podcast is also available on iTunes. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.

• The Bucs’ 2019 captains came out this week and the only real surprise was that rookie inside linebacker Devin White wasn’t named a captain. Not that White has earned it for his play yet, but as the quarterback of the defense and the fact that he has become the vocal leader of the unit it was a mild surprise.

As suspected, quarterback Jameis Winston, wide receiver Mike Evans and guard Ali Marpet were the captains on offense, with linebacker Lavonte David and outside linebacker Carl Nassib as the defensive captains. Running back Dare Ogunbowale was named the special teams captain.

Bucs OLBs Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs OLBs Jason Pierre-Paul and Carl Nassib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The selection of Nassib might have surprised some, but he really stepped up his vocal leadership in the offseason, and his teammates definitely appreciated that – in addition to his oddball personality. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians called Nassib “crazy” in a press conference last week, and several Bucs agreed.

“Carl is crazy – Carl is great,” said Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. “I love Carl. He always has energy. Every day – it’s energy, energy. He’s always yelling and he’s always getting us going. We appreciate that. We need that. Losing JPP – he was that guy. He would get everybody going and get in your face. He would get practice going. Carl kind of stepped in to that role. He has a funny way of doing it. It’s Carl and we love it.”

PEWTER REPORT HAS HIT 33,000 FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER! Thank you – Pewter Nation – for following the PewterReport.com Twitter account, as we reached 33,000 followers this past week. We cover Bucs practices, Bucs press conferences, Bucs games and break news on our @PewterReport Twitter account. So if you aren’t one of the 33,000 Bucs fans that follow PewterReport.com on Twitter please do so right now so you don’t miss out on our Bucs coverage, including injury updates, breaking news and notifications about the latest stories and columns on PewterReport.com. Follow us today!

• Nose tackle Vita Vea and MO linebacker Lavonte David weren’t the only Bucs defenders to miss the entire preseason. Rookie outside linebacker Anthony Nelson also didn’t play in the preseason after suffering an MCL sprain during training camp. Like Vea and David, Nelson finally returned to practice this week, but might not dress for Sunday’s game.

“I’m very much itching to get back to football,” Nelson said. “I came here to play football and I’ve been watching these guys work hard. I’m excited to get back out there and mix it up with them.”

Bucs OLB Anthony Nelson
Bucs OLB Anthony Nelson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs’ brass had been very excited about Nelson’s development prior to his knee injury, and they like his approach to the game and his football I.Q. When Nelson is given the green light to suit up and play in the regular season the team is expecting some big things from the rookie edge rusher, who has made the most of his mental reps and knows the defense despite missing four weeks of practice.

“It’s a mental game and you have to be locked in to your assignment on every play,” Nelson said. “Being physically injured limits the way you can do it, so I was just using mental reps to stay on top of it. There’s nothing like a real rep, being out there and doing it. But if you can go through it in your head so you know what to do when you’re healthy and your number is called – that’s what I was trying to do.”

• Because of the short week with the Bucs vs. Carolina game on Thursday night, I’ll be coming out with next week’s SR’s Fab 5 on WEDNESDAY morning rather than the usual Friday morning time slot. There will be plenty of Bucs game coverage for you to read and enjoy on Friday, including my 2-Point Conversion post-game column.

Be sure to read the debut edition of the Pewter Preview and Predictions: Bucs vs. 49ers later this afternoon on PewterReport.com. The Pewter Report staff will chime with their predictions for each Bucs game every Friday afternoon starting with the Week 1 Tampa Bay vs. San Francisco match-up.

• And finally, Yeoman’s Cask & Lion is home to two Pewter Report Watch Parties for both Bucs vs. Panthers games. The first happens next Thursday night when Tampa Bay travels to Carolina for Thursday Night Football on NFL Network. Pewter Reporters Mark Cook, Matt Matera and Taylor Jenkins will be there to talk Bucs football with fans for that game, as yours truly and Trevor Sikkema will be in Carolina.

Yeoman’s Cask & Lion is an English-themed pub and eatery located in downtown Tampa at 202 N. Morgan Street right down the street from Amalie Arena. Visit them online at YeomansCaskAndLion.com for driving directions, hours of operation and a full menu. Yeoman’s Cask & Lion will have different food and drink specials for both games. Their food is delicious and Yeoman’s has a full bar with several beers on tap.

The second Pewter Report Watch Party happens on Sunday, October 13 at 8:30 a.m. at the downtown Tampa location as Yeoman’s Cask & Lion opens its doors early at a special time for the Buccaneers vs. Panthers game in London. Come watch the game with Pewter Reporters Sikkema, Matera and Jenkins and lots of Tampa Bay fans, as Cook and yours truly will be in London covering the game overseas.

There will be door prizes that fans can win, and Pewter Report swag will available at both Pewter Report Watch Parties.

1
2
3
4
5
Previous articleBucs vs. 49ers Injury Report: 9/5
Next articlePewter Preview And Predictions: Bucs vs. 49ers
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]

24 COMMENTS

  1. Well, one thing is for sure: it never works out like we think it’s going to. Some team will get a big injury (or two), some team won’t suffer any (hello Atlanta 2016 season), some players will nose-dive their careers and some player(s) will emerge across the league to be the “next great things” that currently look like JAGs.

    I’m sticking with 16-0 at this point.

    +43
    0
    Rating: +43. From 43 votes.
    Please wait...
  2. Think if they can roll the Lions and Texans, they’ll still take care of the Colts and Falcons. The pass rush will be in full effect and are able to give the offense enough chances to figure it out. Optimistic of course. This offensive line really makes you go hmmm….

    +18
    0
    Rating: +18. From 18 votes.
    Please wait...
  3. As for Devin White not being named team captain no big deal. He’s going to have enough on his plate without having to also carry the C on his chest. Besides, how do you vote a rookie who’s never taken a snap in an NFL regular season game a team captain? I think he’ll be wearing that C for years to come, but it has to be earned, he hasn’t done anything in the NFL to earn it. The big surprise for me is Nissab. Didn’t know he was so well respected, and such a character. A defense needs a fire starter, they take that lead. Maybe that’s why we were so ho hum it’ll be O.K. when McCoy was here.

    +20
    -1
    Rating: +19. From 21 votes.
    Please wait...
  4. Poor offensive line play can be overcome by proper scheme. The success or failure of this season is in the lap of Byron Leftwich & Todd Bowles. Every NFL team has weaknesses but the good ones know how to manage their Weaknesses while capitalizing on their Strengths. Bruce Arians is tasked with maximizing the talent we have on this roster and not make excuses for scheduling,injuries or any other thing that will arise this season. I don’t know what our record will be but if BA is anything like advertised we should be extremely competitive with the talent that’s on this roster. Palm Palms waiving Go Bucs!!

    +14
    -1
    Rating: +13. From 15 votes.
    Please wait...
  5. Sorry Scott, but I see the Bucs splitting the two games with the Saints. Our defensive starters, less D White, have already played against the Drew Brees-led offense at least twice, including Suh. They haven’t played our new defense, which I believe is big step up from last year’s defense. We’ll apply a lot more pressure on Brees than years past. I don’t see anybody on the Saints defense who can cover OJ Howard. I think M Evans gets the best of M. Lattimore once again, and Godwin has at least one good game against that secondary. I don’t think the Saints defensive line is anywhere near as good as Carolina’s, LA’s, or SF’s.

    +10
    -1
    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
    Please wait...
  6. If you saw the Gruden comments about running backs picking up the blitz and how he pointed out Dare Ogunbowale’s missed assignment on one of Cleveland’s sacks it made me feel better about the o-line. It is one thing if the guys simply can’t win one on one and another thing if there are missed assignments that can be cleaned up.

    +8
    0
    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
    Please wait...
  7. I’m really hoping this is VHIII’s year. I’ve been a fan since his college years, and was glad the Bucs selected him in 2016. I knew my faith in him was justified for about 30 minutes of play against the Saints in week 1 last year. Pray he stays healthy and plays up to his potential, which I believe would put him as a top 10 CB in the league.

    +8
    -1
    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
    Please wait...
  8. I had already stated I hoped for 8-8, as that would be a successful season for this franchise at this point and keep things stable for next year. We get a true indication if it is at all possible this weekend. If the Bucs cannot beat the 49ers at home all bets are off. Note: I don’t agree about the Titans. I think by the 8th game it will be not Mariotta but Ryan Tannenhill from the Dolphins playing at QB. Hopefully the outcome is the same.

    +8
    -1
    Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
    Please wait...
  9. The outcome will be the same, Tannehill is not an upgrade.
    Still disappointed that Pewter Report has spoiled the season for me by telling me the outcome of the games before I have watched them.

    +10
    -1
    Rating: +9. From 11 votes.
    Please wait...
  10. Having hope propels Bucs to achieve the Glazzers dream and drives the Bucs forward toward its pursuits.”HOPE”  keeps a smile on pewterboys, spitfire the chef as everything seems to go wrong, even when we see that we’re losing. Hope is always the light at the end of the tunnel, The Bucs gallon cannons ready to navigate the team through trials and difficulties of 49ers , Panthers and Giants to a great day. It’s about game 6 when we lose that hope, Bucs are like a rudderless ship being tossed about without direction. Chef and fredster blaming everything but the team while still having and finding hope with response to each Pewter article, It essential for keeping our dreams upright and continuing to sail in the direction above last place NFC south.

    +4
    -13
    Rating: -9. From 17 votes.
    Please wait...
    • I don’t know who wrote this, but this is not the regular usual Bob. Someone must’ve hacked his account. There’s punctuation, sentence structure, and an almost poetic flow to some of the sentences. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out this is Mark Cook trolling you guys lmao.

      +5
      0
      Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
      Please wait...
      • I’ve often speculated that there really wasn’t an actual person known as my old nemesis Bucfan47 or our current resident cesspool bather, Buc Ass Bob. In realty the author of the constant negative babble with that by-line is actually an unnamed Pewter Report intern. Fess up Scott.

        +2
        0
        Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
        Please wait...
    • Difference between you and I BAB is that whether this team wins or loses, I’ll be here to comment. Heaven for bid Tampa balls out this year and you disappear like the troll you are. That’s a dream I think all of us could get on board with.

      +2
      0
      Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
      Please wait...
  11. These people that we pay to talk…they talk. Can’t be surprised what happens when you pull Chatty Kathy’s string. My good friend from Chicago, now that he’s done cussing his TV and throwing his remote control, will say you never know what you’re going to get until game day.

    +7
    0
    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Bears fans sure thought victory was assured after the first half-dozen plays. Talk about shooting your wad.

      +1
      0
      Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
      Please wait...
  12. I still got us at 8-8. If we had a bigtime pass rush, I’d up it to 10-6. You never know though. IF our Bucs can come out of the gate at 3-0, we might have something here. But they gotta start fast..real fast. Here’s to a great season.

    +10
    0
    Rating: +10. From 10 votes.
    Please wait...
  13. Really good hearing that Howard said they may need to chip. That is the key and you saw the TEs do a lot of chipping and blocking for the Patriots in their power blocking scheme. Auclair and Howard are both good blockers. Put them both on the outside and we can neutralize the 49er’s pass rush. Get our power blocking going and our RBs will get to the second level and our Offense will flourish. Can’t wait!

    +6
    0
    Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
    Please wait...
  14. There’s so much to comment on, but I’m going to focus on just one thing:
    Carolina is hosting the Rams on opening day, so if you think they’re going to be 100% come Thursday night think again. The Bucs have a really good shot at a 2-0 start.

    +7
    0
    Rating: +7. From 7 votes.
    Please wait...
  15. My first ever Bucs game was a closing 3 seconds loss to a Green Bay field goal. I used to listen to us get trampled on the Radio when I was a kid because we were never on TV for Home Games. I was born the year before we lost Doug Williams so I have known what it is like to be a fan of a basement dweller. Win or Lose I am still a Bucs Fan… Till the end. I don’t believe like the Trolls do that praying for losses in the hopes of the Glaziers selling the team is at all what being a Bucs Fan is about. I root for My Team year in and year out because they are My Team, no matter how ugly things get. Granted things get so bad sometimes that I have to turn the volume up and go sit in the other room to listen because I can’t bare to watch at certain moments. Granted my Wife has to tell the kids “Don’t get scared when Daddy is yelling at the TV during Bucs games, it’s just because he cares.”

    Yes I choose to have Hope for the Bucs, always. Not because I’m too blind to see our faults, or admit we have weaknesses and have made mistakes. I have Hope because I Love My Team. I have Hope because there is always the possibility of a Win. I have Hope because even though things can always be worse, they can also always get better. I have Hope because no matter what, I will always wear that Flag with pride and root for My Team and hope for the day I get to sit on the couch during the Super Bowl, afraid to move from the same spot out of Superstition in hopes that We can win another one.

    I am Hoping for a 10 win season, but I know that is gonna take a real turnaround for this team this year. If we don’t get that it’s not gonna shatter my Hope, because if you give up Hope on Life there’s no reason to Live. If you give up hope on yourself then you’ll never accomplish anything, and if you give up Hope on Your Team, then there’s no reason to be a Fan. I am a Firefighter and a Paramedic, so I have seen things that would make most people Hope-less, only to have the outcome be Hope-full. I have seen Death and brought back Life, because I held onto Hope. Sometimes Hope is all you have, and anyone that tries to take that away from you is just miserable and sad. So I choose Hope… and I am not ashamed at all.

    +8
    0
    Rating: +8. From 8 votes.
    Please wait...
    • Wow. That was a deep post. You beared your soul. Appreciate the hard work you do as a first responder. Also, hope is a great thing! Keep your hope alive, especially for the Bucs!

      You sound like a really passionate fan. Try not to get too upset though. It’s a game being played by millionaires and managed by billionaires.

      That said, this season and team feels different. I actually think these guys can win 12. I think there are lots of reasons to be optimistic about the upcoming season. Enjoy the ride!

      +6
      0
      Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
      Please wait...
      • *bared

        +4
        0
        Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
        Please wait...
    • Loved your passionate post Spitfire. Sounds a lot like the past 40 plus years of my Bucs Life. Even in the most dire times, I somehow managed to have a little hope. That 1979 Worst to First season kept me thinking it could happen again.

      I started off every new season telling my wife, “This is the year.” Heck, once I was right. Many times I just wished we weren’t the worst team in the league. Bucs didn’t win much, but each of those times when the opponent probably lost more than the Bucs actually won, my spirit was energized. If nothing else, I always have hope….. even if logic tells me otherwise.

      Guys like Buc Ass Bob and others, who protect their own fragile psyche by limiting their expectations, mark down a loss in their mind before the team even takes the field. Then if the Bucs “luck out” a victory, they quickly add an asterisk noting “should have lost”.

      I sure hope (there’s that word again) Bob never gets sick. He’d never believe he had a chance to be cured and would start making his own funeral arrangements. Then, if he survived, he’d put an asterisk on the headstone marking his vacant plot, *I should have died.”

      +3
      0
      Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
      Please wait...
  16. I have no clue what we’re going to do.
    Just have zero confidence to predict anything, but to say Go Bucs! Get this win!

    +2
    0
    Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
    Please wait...
  17. Good Fab 5, Scott. I have us going 8-8 and with a little help from the Football Gods, 10-6. [Yes, Football Gods drink KoolAide too.] Also liked your preseason take aways – good objective assessment. One big difference this year going into the regular season is that if feels like the coaching staff gives us the chance for the upside and puts a safety net under this team for the downside. Injuries are always a wild card, but I like our chances with this staff.

    +3
    0
    Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
    Please wait...