Dud: Ronald Jones
Ronald Jones has been surrounded by hype throughout the offseason. Viewed as the future of the Buccaneers rushing attack, Jones has pressure to produce immediately. His career got off to a rough start with a bad drop in the first quarter.
Jones did find the end zone later in the first half but he didn’t stand out from the rest of the tailbacks. With only nine yards on eight carries, the USC product looked like a rookie. Peyton Barber, on the other hand, showed Bucs fans why he is number one on the depth chart.
The touchdown run showed flashes of his potential but the coaching staff is going to need to see more in the receiving department if he is going to split time with Barber.
Studs: Carlton Davis, M.J. Stewart and Jordan Whitehead
The rookie defensive back trio was stellar in their first games as Buccaneers. Both Davis and Stewart broke up a handful of passes as Whitehead delivered a pair of bone-jarring hits.
Davis was the standout of the first half while Stewart and Whitehead continued to see playing time throughout the second. The coverage both corners displayed was impressive. Making plays despite the Dolphins quarterbacks having plenty of time to deliver accurate strikes down the field.
There’s a case to be made for Davis as the starting outside corner. He was by far the best defensive back on the field and deserves snaps with the first team again next week.
Studs: Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston
In 21 combined attempts, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston threw just four incompletions. Both Buccaneers quarterbacks were phenomenal against the Dolphins. Miami had no answer for either quarterback as they led smooth drives down the field to give Tampa Bay the lead heading into halftime.
While Fitzpatrick spent his time with the first team, Winston had similar success with the backups. They spread the ball around, didn’t make mistakes and had total control of the offense.
Fitzpatrick can only give fans so much confidence. He has proven to be a replacement level quarterback throughout his career and won’t be able to carry a team throughout an entire season.
However, his performance tonight showed he is comfortable in head coach Dirk Koetter’s system, especially with the strong weapons around him.