December 7, 2023

Bucs Life

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Preseason Week 2 Review: Dolphins at Buccaneers

9 min read

If you came here yesterday looking for the post-game review, you were a little early. This is the preseason, and much like the Buccaneers, my timing is still a little off. Yes, I realize we won, and that’s certainly something to be happy about, but there were still way too many mental errors, way too many penalties, and still, a lot of work to be done.

The first team offense for the Buccaneers didn’t look as good as they did against the Steelers, but they still put forth a very good performance. Quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t exactly flawless going 2/4 for 24 yards, but he was also rushed a bit more this week. Despite the increase in pressure, and being sacked, Jameis showed he’s able to take care of the ball and not make dumb decisions, and that shows tremendous growth from where he was this time last year. We again saw decent rushing from both Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones with both turning in performances of two carries each for 5 and 7 yards respectively. While the numbers certainly weren’t great, getting them out onto the field is more for ensuring they’re ready week 1 than judging their performance as their carries are far too limited, and we already know they’re going to be the 1st and 2nd running backs on the team. O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate both had a reception each, but much like Barber and Jones, we’re not too worried about their performances, but rather making sure they’re ready for week 1 and injury-free.

While the play of the first-team offense wasn’t something to write home about, the first-team offensive line is a different story, and definitely cause for concern. We not only saw Jameis sacked for the first time this year, but he saw a lot more pressure from the Dolphins than he saw from the Steelers, and the line didn’t do nearly as good of a job opening up holes for the running game. Injuries did indeed play a part of it, as Earl Watford and Ruben Holcomb both missed the game due to injury which while not starters, already put the offensive line into a mentality of having to worry about getting injured, and knowing they were going to be spread extra thin this game. The Dolphins didn’t throw anything at the Bucs that they hadn’t seen before, so it wasn’t a case of not grasping a blitzing scheme or not being able to read what was coming. I’m not going to be too hard on them just yet, as this is still preseason and there not only is a lot of time left to shore up the line, but they’re still coming together as a unit, and getting the kinks worked out. Now if we still see some of the same issues against the 49ers, then it’s time to take a good long look at changing the lineup.

The second-team offense didn’t do much to thrill the crowd and really didn’t do much to upset the crowd either. Blaine Gabbert did just enough to move the ball by connecting on 5 out of his 12 passes for 42 yards while being sacked twice. The good news is he didn’t throw an interception, the bad news is he’s not making a case for himself to be on the roster come game one of the regular season. While the backup is rarely going to see playing time in the regular season, you also want to know that if your starting quarterback goes down with an injury, that the backup can step into that role and carry the team until such time Winston was to return, and honestly, at this point, I’m not sure Gabbert could get the job done. Andre Ellington definitely improved upon his performance from last week with 15 yards on 6 rushes which isn’t great, but he also caught all 4 passes thrown to him for 14 yards. Again, not a performance that’s going to make SportsCenter, but it was an improvement from the week before, and that’s what we want to see in the preseason. His biggest issue was his inability to secure the ball, which led to the fumble that the Dolphins were able to recover. If he really wants to make this roster, he’s going to have to learn to secure that ball, and given his years in the league, there’s no excuse, even in the rain.

The 3rd and 4th team offenses are where the Buccaneers decided to show off a little bit with Ryan Griffin going 14 out of 21 for 201 yards and a touchdown. Much like Winston, he found himself picking himself up off the grass, but that only goes to show that the blocking by the offensive line was just as bad as it was when the game started. Griffin wasn’t spectacular, but he certainly outplayed Gabbert and is working hard to put himself into that backup role. With Winston having the starting role locked up tighter than Area 51, it will be fun to watch Griffin and Gabbert battle it out for that backup role. What is definitely helping Griffin make his case, are the performances by Dare Ogunbowale, Tanner Hudson, and Bobo Wilson.

Ogunbowale again came out as the best running back of the night putting up 34 yards on 13 carries and adding another 54 yards on just 3 receptions, the only 3 that were thrown his way. When Ellington was brought in, we were told it was a combination of his being familiar with Arians, and his ability to catch out of the backfield, but we’ve seen that Ogunbowale, Barber, and Jones are all capable of catching the ball out of the backfield this year, so it makes you wonder if Ellington may just find himself on the outside looking in. Tanner Hudson again put on a show, catching 6 of 7 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. While he’s not going to take the starting roles away from Howard and Brate, he’s definitely making his case for being the number 3 tight end come week 1. One of the deepest positions on the team without a doubt is our receiving corps, and obviously, Bobo Wilson knows that since he made sure to pick up almost 50 yards on only two catches. Sure, he was thrown to 7 times and only caught two of the passes, but he led all receivers in yards per catch, so there’s always a bright side.

The defense overall has shown great growth over the past two weeks, and while there’s still room for improvement, this is already shaping up to be the best Buccaneers defense we’ve seen in over a decade. I’m not throwing them in the same ship as the defense that won us the Super Bowl, but they’re definitely the defense that is showing flashes of eventually getting to that point.

Rookie Jamel Dean had not only his first interception but the only Buccaneers’ interception of the night. He also added two tackles and two deflected passes to his performance, which allowed him to turn in the best defensive outing of the night. He wasn’t the only defensive player to stand out though, as Jack Cichy returned to the team to record five tackles, one pass deflection, and a hit on the quarterback. Rookie Lukas Denis also picked up five tackles which alongside Cichy led the team in tackles for the game. The defensive performances didn’t end there though, as we’d see Beau Allen pick up 4 tackles with one of those for a loss, Patrick O’Connor picked up 3 tackles and a sack, and De’Vante Harris and Kevin Minter both picked up 3 tackles each with Harris adding a sack. Farrington Huguenin, Devante Bond, and Shaquil Barrett all recorded 2 tackles apiece with each adding a sack, with Jamel Dean, Isaiah Johnson, Ryan Smith, John Battle, Deone Bucannon, and Sean Murphy-Bunting all adding their names to those who recorded two tackles. In total, the defense recorded 5 sacks, 53 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, 10 hits on the quarterback, 8 passes deflected, and an interception.

We saw a few rookies stand out such as Jamel Dean and Lukas Denis, but we also saw rookies struggle such as Devin White who all but disappeared this week. Sean Murphy-Bunting didn’t really show up last week but managed to this week, so perhaps we’ll see both White and Murphy-Bunting both show up next week and we can start putting the pieces of this defense together. Either way, it’s still preseason and not the time for anyone to panic, as it will take time for White to get the hang of things, but eventually, he’ll prove why he was taken in the 1st round. Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later, but it will happen.

At this point, it’s clear that Cairo Santos is auditioning for his new team, but missing your only field goal attempt probably isn’t the best way to go about that. The reason I say Santos is auditioning for his new job is that Matt Gay clearly has earned the confidence of not only the coaching staff but his teammates and the fans alike. He recorded the longest field goal in the history of Heinz Field last week and then makes the game-winning kick this week from 48 yards out in the closing seconds of the game, in the rain, on a wet field. We have the kicker we’ve been looking for, and for the first time since Martin Gramatica, we don’t have to worry about being forced to go for it on 4th and forever simply because we don’t have a reliable kicker.

The largest area for concern last week, turned out to also be the largest area for concern this week, and that is penalties. The Buccaneers committed 13 penalties for 122 yards, which turned out to be more yards than either team was able to gain through running the ball. The penalties were so bad, they were even addressed by Coach Arians at the post-game press conference I think our top-20 guys on both sides played really well. Then, the continuation of the dumbest penalties I have ever seen with our second and third group continue. They’re lucky we’re not cutting tomorrow. Quarterbacks have a head for a reason, and you don’t hit them in the head. I think we slapped them in the head three times to give them big first downs when we had them backed up, and that killed our field position. If we hope to have even a chance at winning the division this year or making the playoffs, we have to get the penalty situation under control, and that’s something that you can be certain Coach Arians will be addressing in practice this week.

Miscellaneous News and Notes:

Players That Did Not Play:

Fitzgerald – QB

Miller – WR

Brent – WR

Hall – WR

Evans – DB

Edwards – DB

Vea – DT

David – LB

Holcomb – T

Watford – G

Ledbetter – DT

Pierre-Paul – DE

Nelson – LB

Paid Attendance – 40,013

Time of Possession – 27:57 Buccaneers 32:03 Dolphins

Scoring Breakdown:

Dolphins 2 12:10 J. Sanders 45 yd. Field Goal (8-35, 3:53) 3 0
Buccaneers 2 2:33 M. Gay 32 yd. Field Goal (11-36, 5:20) 3 3
Dolphins 2 0:01 J. Sanders 49 yd. Field Goal (5-13, 0:29) 6 3
Buccaneers 4 9:56 C. Santos 23 yd. Field Goal (10-66, 4:15) 6 6
Buccaneers 4 3:35 T. Hudson 4 yd. pass from R. Griffin (M. Gay kick) (6-80, 2:48) 6 13
Dolphins 4 0:34 P. Laird 8 yd. pass from J. Rudock (J. Rudock-T.Irwin pass) (7-51, 1:33) 14 13
Buccaneers 4 0:06 M. Gay 48 yd. Field Goal (5-45, 0:28) 14 16

Ten Longest Plays For The Buccaneers (Yards, Quarter, Play Start, Play Description)

41 4 3-10-MIA 49 (12:40) (Shotgun) R. Griffin pass short left to D. Ogunbowale to MIA 8 for 41 yards (N. DeLuca).
31 4 1-10-TB 39 (5:37) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R. Griffin pass deep middle to T. Hudson to MIA 30 for 31 yards (M. Hartage; D. Rivers).
30 2 3-5-MIA 45 (6:33) (Shotgun) B. Gabbert pass short right to B. Wilson pushed ob at MIA 15 for 30 yards (B. McCain).
27 4 2-10-TB 43 (:18) (Shotgun) R. Griffin pass deep right to T. Hudson to MIA 30 for 27 yards (Ja. Davis).
23 4 3-11-TB 28 (13:29) (Shotgun) R. Griffin pass deep left to J. Watson to MIA 49 for 23 yards (M. Hartage).
18 4 2-9-TB 21 (6:01) (No Huddle, Shotgun) R. Griffin pass short middle to B. Wilson to TB 39 for 18 yards (C. Lammons) [N. Orchard].
18 4 2-10-TB 25 (:28) (Shotgun) R. Griffin pass short middle to T. Hudson to TB 43 for 18 yards (Ja. Davis).
16 1 2-10-TB 24 (14:52) J. Winston pass short middle to O. Howard to TB 40 for 16 yards (J. Wiltz).
10 1 2-8-MIA 47 (12:31) J. Winston scrambles left end to MIA 42 for 5 yards (C. Harris).
10 1 1-10-MIA 37 (11:53) R. Jones up the middle to MIA 27 for 10 yards (S. Eguavoen; M. Fitzpatrick)