The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the New England Patriots on Friday evening, but in preseason games, that’s not really what counts. The coaching staff and front office are looking for positives and negatives to take away from the game, to see who will make the roster, and where they’ll fall on the depth chart.
With only a little over a week remaining before the first 15 players must be chopped off the roster, let’s take a look at how some the Buccaneers graded out according to Pro Football Focus’ charting statistics and grades:
Jace Daniels might have played his way off the roster on Friday evening, as the Buccaneers’ reserve guard managed a -7.0 grade, more than twice as low as any other Buccaneer. This is because he allowed 2 QB hits and 2 QB hurries in his 17 snaps as a pass blocker, and had a -4.4 grade in 28 snaps as a run blocker. In other words, he did absolutely nothing right on Friday night. Luckily he was competing to be ninth on the offensive line depth chart anyways, so this isn’t a guy who was going to be heavily relied upon.
Fellow offensive line hopeful Cody Wallace turned in a similarly bad game, with almost equal troubles blocking for the run. Not a good sign for either of these guys, who are squarely behind Ted Larsen, Jamon Meredith, and Gabe Carimi for the roster spots as backups to the starting five offensive linemen.
A couple of backup linemen did do fairly well, as Ted Larsen and Roger Allen both graded out positively in run blocking, and positively overall, allowing a combined 1 QB hurry in their 30 pass blocking snaps. Allen has a long road to make the roster, but might be a practice squad guy if the other linemen continue to disappoint.
The best tight end according to PFF’s grades on Friday evening was Danny Noble. The Toledo product had good scores in every area, which added up to being an overall 1.2 positive grade. He showed the ability to get open against the Patriots’ reserves, and is deserving of a bigger opportunity in the coming weeks.
Tom Crabtree was similarly solid, posting no negative grades, and having a couple of decent moments before being rested. Crabtree appears to be the starter at tight end for the Buccaneers at this point.
Luke Stocker, however, could not have had a worse game. Stocker played 11 snaps, and managed a -2.9 grade, mainly due to an inability to run or pass block. He allowed a QB hurry one of his two pass blocking snaps, and was otherwise completely ineffective in his brief stint on the field. I would love to give Stocker the benefit of the doubt and say he is still dealing with an injury, but he’s going to need to do something to hold on to his roster spot. It’s one thing to hold on to a player to develop him, but Stocker is at the point where he should have already emerged as a viable NFL contributor.
Derek Landri has yet to play this preseason, and that might have opened the door for Matthew Masifilo, who turned in the best defensive performance for the Buccaneers, according to PFF. The former Stanford Cardinal had 2 QB hurries and a 1.4 positive grade in run defense over 27 total snaps. He has a long way to go, but hopefully he earned a spot in the top 75, so he can continue to fight for a spot on the team.
And in the most encouraging news, Da’Quan Bowers had a positive night, posting a 1.5 positive grade in pass rush thanks to 4 QB hurries. Bowers was collapsing the pocket all night, which is definitely an encouraging sign.
Despite most media members in Tampa Bay believing that Jonathan Casillas is fighting for the job at SAM linebacker, PFF seems to think Dekoda Watson is doing everything needed to hold down that job. Watson graded out as a positive 1.6 in only 7 defensive snaps! From everything I have seen, Casillas has been just fine at linebacker, but Watson is the clear frontrunner. PFF seems to confirm my beliefs in this department.
Jacob Cutrera also had an impressive night with three tackles, two of which were considered “stops,” or plays where he prevent the offense from getting a successful amount of yards. He also dominated on special teams, earning high grades for his coverage abilities. He wants a roster spot, and is fighting to get one.
Mason Foster and Najee Goode both had disappointing nights, grading out negatively overall. The duo seemed to be victimized in the passing game, which is a big concern for Foster as the starting middle linebacker.