The final score doesn’t show it, but the Buccaneers dominated the Jaguars in evening their preseason record at 1-1 with a 12-8 victory at EverBank Field on Thursday night.
The Bucs first-team offense played the entire first half and moved the ball consistently throughout while the defense forced the Jaguars to punt the ball away on each of their first four possessions.
Here’s a deeper look at the good and the bad of what went down as the Bucs wrapped up the road portion of their preseason schedule.
As he proved yet again by trying to throw a pass into the end zone while being sacked, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston still has a tendency to make some ridiculously foolish decisions with the ball in his hand.
For the most part though, Winston’s decision-making in this game was superb. Just as he did in the preseason opener, Winston spent most of his time in this one checking the ball down and taking what the defense gave him.
It’s not just Winston’s decision-making that’s better. He looks like a much more accurate thrower as well, often hitting his receivers right in stride even when throwing downfield.
The decision to let go of ultra-inconsistent Roberto Aguayo didn’t solve the Bucs kicking dilemma. That issue lives on and Nick Folk did little to suggest he can solve it on Thursday night.
Folk had a very-Aguayo-like game in this one. He had an extra point blocked, in part because he kicked the ball too low, and missed a 47-yard field goal.
It was his miss of a 47-yard try a week ago that spelled the end for Aguayo. That won’t be the case with Folk, but it’s still quite possible that the Bucs kicker for 2017 is still not on their roster.
Linebacker Lavonte David finally found a comfort zone in coordinator Mike Smith’s defense late last year, and the way he played on Thursday suggests he’s even more comfortable in the scheme now.
David spent a lot of this game doing what he does best, which is playing aggressively and running downhill, and the result was a string of big plays by the Bucs weak-side backer.
David led the Bucs first-team defense with four tackles, including two for a loss, had a pass breakup and recorded a sack off a blitz. And from the looks of things, we’re going to see a lot of those blitzes this year.
Tough game for cornerback Vernon Hargreaves. Coming off a solid outing in the opener in which he had a pick and foiled another pass along the sideline, Hargreaves struggled to make plays in this one.
He allowed a couple of passes to be caught in front of him, was penalized for interference on another and was beaten badly on two long throws, including one into the end zone.
Were it not for Keenan Cole and Allen Robinson both dropping the ball against him, Hargreaves would have been responsible for a couple of big plays going the wrong against the Bucs.
Rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin, this year’s early training camp darling, has begun to fade a little bit. The same cannot be said of fellow rookie Kendell Beckwith.
Beckwith had a solid game in the preseason opener last week and he followed up with another impressive game in this one, recording four tackles, including two for a loss.
Beckwith was filling in for projected starting strong-side backer Devante Bond, who is injured. At the rate Beckwith is playing, he may start ahead of Bond even if Bond regains his health.
There are some inside the Bucs organization who believe Peyton Barber can be an every-down feature back. He did nothing to dispel that belief during this game against the Jaguars.
Barber got the call for the start of the second half and ran the ball nine times for 42 yards, averaging 4.7 per carry, including a long run of 13 yards.
Barber doesn’t add much to the passing game. That’s an area he still has to get better at, but he can run the ball effectively and could prove to e a solid option should the Bucs top backs go down.