TAMPA – The smattering of fans that came out to watch the Buccaneers take on the Browns at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday night didn’t see the “dress rehearsal’’ for opening day they were hoping for.
As expected, the Bucs didn’t even dress several starters, including wide receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, offensive linemen Demar Dotson and Kevin Pamphile and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
As the 13-9 final score suggests, the result was a tedious display of football the likes of which we usually see in the first or last game of the preseason. Here are a few quick takeaways.
As you can tell from the score, the Bucs struggled inside the red zone yet again in this one.
The first team offense moved the ball inside the 20 twice, on its first and last drive of the first half, but turned the ball over on a Jameis Winston interception on the first attempt and settled for a field goal on the second.
The fact Winston was working without his top two wideouts and later lost slot receiver Adam Humphries to a hip injury didn’t help but it can hardly be used as an excuse either. Winston has plenty of red zone weapons and he simply failed to connect with them yet again.
The Bucs first-team offense is now 1-for-6 inside the 20 this preseason and the concern is that this appears to be a carryover from last season, when they ranked 21st in the league in red zone scoring when they notched touchdowns on just 51.8-percent of their trips into the red zone.
The absence of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who sat out with a sore groin, was noticeable. Without McCoy the Bucs did little to harass starting quarterback DeShone Kizer into mistakes, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter calling the pass rush “non-existent.”
The mistakes Kizer did make were mostly of his own doing and he had plenty of them as he completed just six of the 18 passes he threw for 93 yards, finishing his one-half stint with a 28.2 passer rating.
Credit the defense for making some big stops, though. Despite allowing the Browns to convert 5 of their first 9 third-down tries, the first-team defense held the Browns out of the end zone and forced two takeaways, one a pick by Vernon Hargreaves, the other a fumble recovered by Adarius Glanton.
Rookie Chris Godwin has begun to separate himself from a lot of the other young wide receivers that have teased Bucs fans over the years. Unlike so many other training camp darlings, Godwin did not fade when the pads went on and he hasn’t faded under the bright lights of game night either.
With Evans and Jackson on the sidelines for this one, Godwin stepped into the starting lineup and he didn’t look at all out of place, catching four of the five passes that were thrown his way for 56 yards, including two clutch catches in traffic over the middle.
The Browns spent a lot of time picking on cornerback Ryan Smith, who didn’t play with a lot of aggression early on bounced back well after he was dinged up on a play and nearly had a pick.
Smith isn’t ready to step in as a starter but keep in mind that he spent most of last year playing safety and is still getting himself reacquainted with the cornerback position.
Bernard Reedy may have taken the lead in the battle for the fifth receiver spot. With Josh Huff out, Reedy got regular work both on offense and on special teams and he did a solid job.
Reedy had an end-around run for 9 yards, caught a pass for 25 more and broke and had a 22-yard punt return that was wiped out by a holding call against Robert McClain.
Punter Bryan Anger had a great night. He might have been the best player on the field for the Bucs, dropping each of his first six punts down inside the 20.
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.