The Buccaneers opened up the preseason on Thursday night, rallying to defeat the Dolphins 26-24 on a late 26-yard Chandler Catanzaro field goal. Here are a few observations:
Victories in the preseason don’t usually mean much but I believe the situation is a bit different for this year’s Bucs. After missing the playoffs for the 10th straight season last year and recording their seventh losing season in the last nine, this team desperately needs to develop a culture of winning, and this was a step in the right direction.
After controlling the game throughout, the Bucs gave up the lead late, but third-string quarterback Ryan Griffin led them downfield to set up the game-winning field goal.
What a nice start for the Bucs defense. They didn’t generate much of a pass rush, especially during their initial series against quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but Gerald McCoy had a sack of David Fales during the second; they recorded three stops in their first three series (two in the red zone) and allowed just three points.
It’s all about results and early on in this one, the Bucs defense delivered.
What a disappointing finish for the Bucs defense. The Bucs D did a lot of good things in this one, stopping the Dolphins on each of their first 10 third downs and holding them to field goals or field-goal attempts on several trips inside the red zone.
It was a shame to see the unit give up the lead late and was far too reminiscent of what often happened to this team a year ago.
As expected, Ryan Fitzpatrick played the entire first quarter, which amounted to two full series. Looking extremely sharp throughout, he moved the ball and the team well. He completed six of eight passes for 55 yards, scrambled twice for 11 yards and made quick, smart decisions across the board.
Had a couple more of his very catchable passes (especially on a third down toss to rookie RB Ronald Jones) been caught, his outing would have been even better.
As good as Fitzpatrick was, Jameis Winston was even better. Taking over and playing the entire second quarter, Winston completed 11 of 13 passes for 102 yards, and despite taking a sack when his line broke down finished with a 99.4 passer rating.
Winston was playing with and against backups, but he looked a lot like he did late last year when he completed 123 of 183 passes for 1,584 yards, nine touchdowns, five interceptions and had a passer rating of 99.1 across his last five games.
RB Peyton Barber has been one of the most impressive players in training camp this year and he carried that over to the game-day field on Thursday, running four times for 21 yards and a touchdown while catching a pair of passes, albeit for minus-1 yard.
The Bucs have long thought that Barber has the ability to be a feature back and he did nothing to dispel that theory during his first official game as the new leader of the Bucs backfield.
Here we go again. K Chandler Catanzaro, whom the Bucs signed to a three-year, $9.75 million contract during the offseason, missed his first PAT in a Bucs uniform and later missed a 53-yard field goal attempt that would have all but sealed a Bucs victory.
Sure, he bounced back and redeemed himself by kicking the game-winning field goal, but you really have to wonder if Matt Bryant put a curse on this team all those years ago when the Bucs let him leave and join the Falcons.
It’s early of course but you also have to wonder if it’s going to be another agonizing season for the Bucs kickers.
Rookie running back Ronald Jones had a pretty rough debut. He dropped a pass and while he did score a touchdown on a 2-yard run, he only gained 9 yards on eight carries. Jones has had a lackluster training camp so far and he failed to break out of his funk against the Dolphins.
There’s still plenty of time for Jones to find his groove but if this trend continues, the Bucs will eventually bag their original idea of using a committee of backs and give the bulk of the ground work to Barber.
Opponents are still picking on CB Ryan Smith in the passing game and rightfully so. Smith was awful last year, one of the weakest members of what was easily the worst defenses in the league.
He didn’t look any better on Thursday. He picked off the final Hail Mary pass of the game but before that he surrendered a number of catches in coverage and was flagged for a DPI on a series that resulted in a Dolphins score. If Smith keeps playing like this, he won’t just lose a backup job, he’ll lose a roster spot.
Vernon Hargreaves left the game early with a groin strain. He didn’t seem too upset about it so it may not be that bad. He better hope that’s the case because he’s fighting for his starter’s job this preseason and rookies Carlton Davis and MJ Stewart were among the Bucs best players on Thursday.
Davis had five tackles and Stewart played tight coverage all throughout.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.