Welcome back to football Buccaneers fans. With preseason week one in the books let’s look at who was a stud and who was a dud.
While the Buccaneers did not come out victorious in this game there were a few positives to take away. While it had some highs it was not all pretty. There was a definite lull with the offense after the first team went out. It’s the first preseason game and while there are still kinks to be fixed it was great to see Buccaneer football again.
Winner: Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves
The starters didn’t get much playing time tonight but when Vernon Hargreaves was in he made plays. On the Bengals first offensive possession they drove all the way to inside the ten. Looking at Brandon Lafell, Andy Dalton tried slinging one in to a tight window. VH3 intercepted the pass stopping the Bengals first team offense. Hargreaves also made a big stop on third down their next drive forcing a field goal. Hargreaves only had one interception last season but his aggressiveness in this game may be a great sign of things to come.
Loser: Kicker Roberto Aguayo
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Another day more missed kicks by Roberto Aguayo. After making a 20 yarder on the first drive, he missed the extra point after Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s rushing touchdown, and missed a garbage time 47 yarder. To make matters worse for Aguayo, Nick Folk made his lone attempt from 45 yards. Aguayo was one of the worst kickers in the league last season and if he continues he will be off the team before the season. Bonus stat, Nick Folk only has two missed extra points in his career.
Winner: Punter Bryan Anger and Punt Coverage
With very little offensive production after Jameis Winston stepped off the field, Bryan Anger made plays. Anger finished the game with four punts for 186 yards and two pinned inside the Bengals ten yard line. Bryan “Banger” Anger is making the most of his time with Tampa Bay. He was bombing kicks allowing the Tampa special teams unit to get to the ball quickly. They allowed only four yards on three returned punts. With a long of 57 and average of 46.5 yards, Anger and the coverage unit really can be an effective weapon for this team.
Loser: Safety Justin Evans
Justin Evans is a rookie and tonight showed that he has some growing up to do. He’s on this list because he has continue his college issue appeared in tonight’s game. Missing tackles for a starting safety in this league is not going to cut it. An issue for the Bucs this past season was poor safety help over the top and allowing big plays. On Jeff Driskel’s passing touchdown in the third quarter it appeared he was stacking the box when Robert McClain needed help in the back of the end zone he could’ve been the help he needed. This will come with practice, reps, and better communication. Time will tell how good Justin Evans can become but as a second rounder expectations are a higher than on other players.
Winner: Quarterback Jameis Winston and Wide Receiver Mike Evans
While the offense was stagnant for most of the game the Bucs first drive was one of the best you could hope for. With the first drive starting all the way back at their own six Jameis took them on a 94 yard drive that unfortunately stalled ending with a field goal. With Mike Evans getting 52 of the 94 yards the offense looked efficient and dominant.
With the Bucs starting the next drive on their own one after the Hargreaves pick, they were stopped after gaining 30 yards, and that was it. While they didn’t score a touchdown they were efficient and looked like they are going to be dangerous. Jameis finished with 99 yards on a 69% completion rate. Mike Evans finished with four catches and 58 yards. This was all with DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard getting two total targets. They should be saving the real stuff for the regular season.
Loser: Quarterback Ryan Griffin
While the second string quarterback job isn’t the most urgent matter Ryan Griffin did not help himself in this matchup. While there are reports of him being a stud in camp he did not look great against third string Bengals defenders. Not only was he ineffective in the pocket but he looked lost. While his play was shaky he might not get chance to make up for it. He was injured and did not return. If the injury is severe he might not return to the team period. Fitzpatrick did have an interception but he led the team on its loan scoring drive. His job may not be in as much jeopardy as we thought entering this game.
Football is back baby. While the Bucs didn’t win it doesn’t really matter in the long run. The offense looked strong and the defense got the big play when it needed to. The season has yet to begin but there is still work to be done. Luckily for us Bucs fans we get to watch the ins and outs of training camp on Hard Knocks.