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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

How preseason performances and stats can be misleading

Florida Football Insiders

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no doubt that when you look at the numbers from QB Jameis Winston’s performance with the Bucs offense in the second quarter Saturday night, it says he was spectacular.

Throwing for over 200 yards and two touchdowns with a near-perfect quarterback rating in just one quarter of play has everybody giving praise.

Like Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, who on Sunday afternoon after watching game tape had nothing but compliments for what the fourth year quarterback was able to do.

“That second quarter, Jameis was on fire,” Koetter told the media.

However, this is where you have to be careful about preseason football, and that what you’re watching in some cases, can be misleading.

The prime example in this case is that Winston success came ,while he was playing largely with first-team starters on the Buccaneers offense.

This included receivers Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin, as well as tight ends Cam Brate, and OJ Howard. And with the exception of right tackle, the Buccaneers starting offensive line was in front of Winston for much of that second quarter, as well.

The important point is: that the Titans had already gone to their reserves on defense. Throughout the second quarter there were not the likes of defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, linebackers Wesley Woodard and Brian Orakpo, much less Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan playing defensive back. That is a critical when assessing someone’s overall play.

Example: Winston completed this 54-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson to get the Bucs off their goal line, but he did so against reserve defensive back LeShaun Sims.

Now, as the second quarter wore on, Evans and Jackson came out of the game, but still Godwin was available and so too were Brate and Howard. Godwin later caught a “jump ball” TD from Winston to make it 13-7 Bucs.

It concluded a drive where virtually none of the Titans starting front seven were in the game for a single play.

In fairness, the Buccanners were also utilizing rookies like Ronald Jones and also receiver Justin Watson, who caught a touchdown pass near the end of the first half.

Again, Winston was effective and Bucs fans are entitled to be happy about that.

However, you must temper what you see sometimes, because it’s one thing to do it against the opposing team’s starters who will be playing week one.

It’s another thing to do it against reserves, who may rarely see the field once the regular season starts.

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