Buccaneers: Preseason game against the Browns is big night for Mike Smith and the defense

Game three will be interesting for the Buccaneers on defense, starting with the coordinator.

In looking at the 2017 schedule, did anyone really think that the game between the Buccaneers and the Browns would be interesting? Be honest. First of all, it’s the preseason. All the team is looking to do is get out of it healthy, right? Add the fact that it is against the Browns and we would normally assume a big snooze fest. It’s the Browns. They have been irrelevant for far longer than the Bucs. It’s going to be a boring night ahead this weekend.

Not so fast. It looks like the script has been flipped for this upcoming third preseason game. For anyone who hasn’t heard yet, Brock Osweiler is not starting the third game/dress rehearsal, it will be the rookie, DeShone Kizer. According to coach Hue Jackson, they are looking forward to seeing Kizer in this role and believe he is positioning himself well to start in the regular season.

What makes this game interesting now? Well, let’s think about the Bucs aspirations for the 2017 season. They are coming off of a 9-7 record and a second half playoff run. The offense was strong last year and the defense came together to near dominance. The weapons are even better in 2017 and the team is dreaming big.

Needless to say the Bucs are looking to make it big in 2017. They believe that they can not only end their playoff drought but make some noise in the “tournament” once they get there. When you have a player in Jameis Winston that is a dark horse MVP candidate, these expectations come with the territory.

What is one of the most important traits of an elite team? They beat the teams that they are supposed to beat. Upper tier teams do not get caught in “trap” games. Elite teams win games when they are better than their opponent. And what do they do with rookie quarterbacks? They destroy them. Elite teams confuse rookie quarterbacks and leave them no room to get anything done.

Mike Smith and the Bucs have that chance on Saturday night. Yes it is still the preseason. However, the third game is a little bit different. Being that is the game that the starters play the longest, there is a limited game plan put together. It’s the one game where the opponent is, at least in part, treated like a regular season opponent. Smith will plan for how to handle Kizer this weekend.

This defense needs to show that they can take a rookie quarterback and remind him that he is, in fact, a rookie.

Intrigue in a game against the Browns. Who would have thought? I guess you can call that progress.