Buccaneers: Preseason week three winners and losers
By Brian DeFeo
The Buccaneers had a lot of lulls against the Browns on Saturday night. In the week three match-up the Bucs took a loss, but not everyone had a bad night. Let’s take a look at this weeks winners and losers.
In the “Dress Rehearsal” game against the Cleveland Browns, head coach Dirk Koetter went against the normal routine and sat 15 starters. A few players had minor injuries like Gerald McCoy, Kwon Alexander, and Mike Evans which were more precautionary than anything. DeSean Jackson was also on the sideline so the Bucs offense was depleted to say the least. While Jameis tried his best the offense looked inept with out it’s other key players. While the defense looked great at times, rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer had some big plays especially on third down. The Buccaneers may have lost this game but they didn’t have any major injuries or massive weaknesses. Exactly what you want in a preseason game.
Loser: Third Down Offense
I know the Buccaneers offense was missing almost everyone but they still had Jameis Winston. The Buccaneers finished three for 15 on third down with Winston only accounting for one of the conversions. The Browns were bringing pressure all night on third down giving Winston trouble. The line protected as well as it could but they can’t block everyone. The lack of starters was easily noticeable only scoring nine points and most of that was due to the inefficiency of third down. The running game didn’t help either with one back averaging over four yards a carry. The weapons for Winston slogan really showed up tonight and there will be major offensive issues if injuries build up.
Winner: Special Teams
While the Buccaneers were struggling to move the ball the special teams shined. After a rough second game Nick Folk bounced back in a big way making field goals from 31, 42, and 43 yards. He accounted for every point for the Bucs this week and really gave the Buccaneers hope. Bryan Anger, besides the spelling of his first name, has been perfect. On his seven punts all seven pinned the Browns inside the 20 yard line. Four of them pinned them inside the 10. The coverage team has been great too causing holding penalties and containing the returners. If the Bucs aren’t going to score touchdowns the kickers on this team have proved capable of scoring or pinning opponents deep.
Loser: Running Back Jeremy McNichols
Week three is a game for the starters but the rookie running back out of Boise State has looked lost. Only recording 2 snaps in the match-up against the Browns he produced -1 yards and gave up a sack. To make matters worse in Dirk Koetter’s remarks this week were not in his favor. Jameis Winston has taken him under his wing based off of Hard Knocks but he’s not getting the playbook down. Koetter has said that he is making too many mistakes on offense and even as a drafted player you are not safe on this team. He also said he’s going to get one final chance to show what he can do, against the Redskins this week. His connections with Snoop Dogg are nice for TV but won’t save him from getting released.
Related Story: Jeremy McNichols In Danger Of Being Cut
Winner: Wide Receiver Chris Godwin
With no DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, and even Adam Humphries for most of the game, Jameis needed some one to throw to. Chris Godwin stepped up and proved he belonged in this league. Playing the most snaps for any receiver Godwin had four catches for 56 yards. Koetter praised his blocking and versatility. Godwin was considered one of the better receivers in this draft class and he is proving it with his production. If one of the Buccaneers starters goes down they’ll be okay, but they can’t lose both. Godwin is going to be one of the better picks from this draft class when it’s all said and done.
Loser: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
While he has no competition for the backup job Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked like he doesn’t care out on the field. Maybe he doesn’t because he knows his job is safe but he’s produced more turnovers than touchdowns. He also gets hit more than he should. The Buccaneers need him to be the leader he was on the Jets two years ago. He’s a veteran he should know when to get rid of the ball. He also had a chance to win the game in the final two minutes. McNichols blew the protection but Fitzpatrick fumbled and lost the game. If Ryan Griffin was healthy he may not have the position as locked up. He’s got to reduce the turnovers because the Buccaneers may be forced to call his number at some point.
Winner: Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves
There is no one on the Bucs defense that has made more plays this preseason than Vernon Hargreaves. With Brent Grimes going down with a severe laceration Hargreaves stepped up to make big plays this preseason again and again. With his second interception this preseason he’s doubled his total from all of last season. If this carries on into the season he could be in-store a Pro-Bowl caliber year.
While the Buccaneers are 1-2 on the preseason they have come away with no injured starters and some actual game experience for their young nucleus. There’s one more game against the Redskins and while it’s the least important, it’s a make or break game for 40 players. The regular season can’t come soon enough.