The Buccaneers looked a lot better in their second preseason game of 2015 than they did in their first. The whole team played much better against the Cincinnati Bengals than it did against the Minnesota Vikings.
But just like we were careful to not overreact to the Bucs bad performance last week, we shouldn’t overreact to their good one this week. Improvement should be expected with each game in the preseason, so let’s just be glad the Bucs got a little bit better.
Here are 5 takeaways from the Bucs 25-11 win over the Bengals:
1. The offense started fast.
The Bucs drove 80 yards down the field in eight plays as Jameis Winston ran the football in from the 1-yard line for the game’s opening score. I liked the fact that Dirk Koetter repeatedly let Winston throw the ball on first down. Winston completed all three of his passes on the drive for 27 yards. Getting the offense in rhythm early like that is something we never saw last year.
2. Doug Martin continued to impress.
Martin’s four carries for 52 yard on the opening drive was really what got the Bucs down the field so fast. Martin has talked about how he feels healthier than ever and it appears to be showing. I’m sure Winston won’t be complaining if Martin can keep his preseason success going into the regular season.
3. Penalties hampered the offense all night.
It was hard not to notice all of the Bucs penalties Monday night. Many came from backups and younger players, but the starters were not completely immuned. Two penalties on the Bucs second possession led to a 2nd & 30, which ultimately forced the Bucs to punt. A holding call at the beginning of the third drive made the Bucs start out at 1st & 20, which they did not convert.
Even when the Bucs moved the ball down the field on their fourth drive (despite two other penalties), an intentional grounding call on Winston pushed the Bucs out of field goal range. It seems like the offense would have had a few more scoring drives had the penalties been eliminated.
4. Kwon Alexander showed poise at MLB
The rookie out of LSU was promoted to starting MLB last week and sealed the deal Monday night. There’s definitely no question now that he is the right man for the job. He showed off his speed and athleticism against the Bengals, two things Mason Foster didn’t have enough of while playing MLB for the Bucs last year. The 21-year old Alexander will only continue to get better and better.
5. Patrick Murray looked sloppy.
Even though the Bucs kicker nailed a 53-yarder Monday night, he also missed one from 50 yards and pulled an extra point wide left. The Bucs don’t really have a better option at kicker and Murray was decent in 2014, converting 20 of 24 FGs as a rookie. Even with the longer extra points, the Bucs will certainly expect Murray to convert every extra point in the regular season.
All in all, Bucs fans have to be happy with what they saw Monday night. With only five days to get ready for their third and most important game of the preseason, the Bucs hope to carry their momentum from Monday night into Saturdays contest against the Cleveland Browns.