The Buccaneers made a lot of debuts tonight. They debuted their new uniforms, their new head coach, new quarterback, and their atrocious offensive line. The Jaguars got consistent pressure from the start with the Bucs’ offensive line having as many problems as you can imagine. When defenders weren’t blowing past them, they were being held and negating big gains for the Bucs offense. Quarterback Josh McCown had an interception returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Jacksonville safety Winston Guy on a pass intended for rookie Mike Evans. The pressure was again in McCown’s face, causing the ball to sail on him and be easily picked off.
The Buccaneers’ defense looked fantastic. Gerald McCoy seemed unblockable, the players were swarming to the ball, and the defensive line was a force. Even without newly acquired cornerback Alterraun Verner, who sat out due to a lingering hamstring issue, the defensive unit looked strong. Defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers were both impressive, and they need to be with both players in contract years and looking to become essential members of this defense. Johnthan Banks made an impressive open field tackle, something he did not do well in his 2013 rookie campaign.
As stated before, the defense was stellar. Another positive was the play of rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. He made some nice catches, one for a 60 yard gain that was negated by a holding penalty. Quarterback Mike Glennon looked pretty good after settling in. He went 11-19 for 140 yards and a touchdown. Rookie running back Charles Sims also performed well, taking a few short passes for nice gains.
The offensive line. It was a sieve. The play at the guard position has Bucs’ fans clamoring for Richie Incognito (yes, that Richie Incognito). Mike Glennon finds himself in this category as well. He missed a wide open Tim Wright for what would have been a 20-plus yard gain. He also found himself buried in the turf after holding onto the ball for way too long. Linebacker Brandon Magee may have played himself off the team with his performance tonight. He made foolish mistakes, including a huge personal foul penalty for a shot to the head. He got himself noticed by the fans as well as the coaching staff tonight, but for all the wrong reasons.
The penalties. So many flags, you would’ve thought Schiano was back in charge. The Bucs had numerous big plays called back for holding, a Jacksonville drive extended on a bad pass interference call, and some stupid personal foul penalties. The return game was pretty ugly. Guys were returning kicks from 6, 7, 8 yards deep in the end zone only to get to the 15 yard line when it should have just been a routine touchback. And, of course, the offensive line. Can’t say enough about that offensive line. It makes you question moves like trading Jeremy Zuttah and holding out hope that Carl Nicks would return (who has, of course, left the game after reaching a $3 Million injury settlement with the Bucs).
This Buccaneers team has all the talent and potential to contend for a playoff spot this season, but there are some very obvious and glaring issues that need to be fixed in the upcoming weeks. Of course, that’s why they play presesason. The coaches will review the game tape and make the necessary changes and adjustments as they prepare for the next preseason game. But if there isn’t a noticeable difference in some of the aspects of the team by this time next week, the Bucs’ fans may lose hope on any chance of a playoff run this season.
Hopes are high in Tampa. The Bucs just need to find a way to deliver a winning team to the city.