Tampa Bay is fortunate to have a seasoned veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick as their backup quarterback, and his position with the team is lock-safe. His performance last week against the Dolphins was an efficient success, inspiring some confidence in those weary over the Jameis Winston suspension. In week two against the Titans, however, his play was less than stellar.
Fitzpatrick’s accuracy was scattershot throughout the first quarter of the game, and the offense failed to generate anything with him at the helm outside of a 30-yard field goal. His final stat line was 5-for-13, 46 yards and the lowest rating of any quarterback on either team at 48.9. Fitzpatrick showed his usual ability to navigate a chaotic pocket and get the ball out of his hands, but the passes weren’t hitting home in Tennessee.
Like Ryan Fitzpatrick, second-year tight end O.J. Howard has a rich stock portfolio with the Buccaneers and is in no danger of losing his role. Howard two catches for 31 yards including an impressive twenty-yard play. Overall, however, Howard had a tough night.
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Along with a holding penalty, Howard had two balls hit the dirt after hitting his hands. One was a bad pass by Winston that Howard had to adjust to, but the other was far clean. Howard struggled a bit with blocking last year so the Buccaneers are hoping these holding penalties remain in the preseason.
As for his hands, I’m still somewhat dubious of their consistency, mainly when Howard is taking contact from a defender. The young tight end showed a ton of promise as a rookie, but still has much to prove.
The struggles continue for rookie running back Ronald Jones. Through two preseason games Jones has just eleven rushing yards on twelve carries and a touchdown, and last night he had only two yards.
Without question, the backup Buccaneer offensive line has struggled to open lanes for running backs, and the other backup running backs have struggled similarly to Jones. But Jones also received playing time with the starters against the Titans and was the visible weak link on the field.
The slow start for Jones through preseason and training camp has dipped Jones’ stock significantly, and it’s tough to see him taking the starting reigns in the next few weeks.
I still expect to see Jones get plenty of opportunities though, and next week’s dress rehearsal preseason game will see him get an extended amount of snaps, especially if injured Charles Sims has to miss any time.