Buccaneers: We’re OK as long as we don’t start the backups
There was a lot hanging on the how the Buccaneers starters would do in the first half of their 23-16 victory over the Houston Texans Saturday night. What if the starters didn’t play well? What if the offense couldn’t get on track? What if Todd Bowles forgot how to coach? What if Bruce Arians’ master plan for handling the three preseason games? What if, what if, what if?
What we all need right now is a collective sigh of relief.
Although it did take their second offensive possession, a fan would have to admit that the Tampa offense looked mightier than ever. After trying to establish the run in their first series, a three-and-out charmer that looked a lot like the start of the first preseason game, the Bucs offense under Tom Brady sprung to life in their second possession.
Behind pass, pass, pass and then pass some more, the Buccaneers receivers showed the NFL what they are going to have to contend with this season. It’s not just Mike Evans, or Chris Godwin, or even Antonio Brown… There are a ton of receivers on the Buccaneers roster and for certain, some of them are going to end up on other teams. How can you keep some of the players when there is a plethora, dare you say plethora, yes, a plethora of talent pushing for roster spots?
We know that the first four or five slots are already taken, the three mentioned above, and then toss in Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. What’s left? One or maybe two seats in the room. But you have Jaydon Mickens, Jaelon Darden, Travis Jonsen-someone is going to feel the burn.
The offense followed up their first possession with a 7-play, 91-yard drive that was capped by a Brady to Godwin 24-yarder that included some bumping for a little YAC and the TD. And a blocked extra point brought back haunts of past seasons better forgotten. On their next possession, Brady led the boys on an eight-play, 93-yard drive capped by Ronald Jones’ 13-yard touchdown run.
Jones looked like he was going to start off on the right tackle, but saw daylight outside the tackle and outraced the defense to the pylon, high-stepping his last few yards.
By that time, apparently, Bruce was assured that the team that ended last season was indeed the team Bruce let languish through the first two preseason games. Once they got on track, they produced just as well as they had in later January and early February.
With his plan secure, Arians went on to see who really wanted to get a shot at making the 53-man squad. It’s that time of year, and while the second team players and those rooks trying to make the team rumbled through the rest of the night, there were a few shining stars. Some of the players will be on the 53 and some will not.
Some will be picked up off the waiver wire by other teams that long for the droppings from the Buccaneers’ table of players. Some will filter through and make it to the practice squad. And some, unfortunately, will have to wait another year.
But even with that, no one in the bottom of the roster, either 53 or practice, should feel too safe.
Chances are, Tampa’s coaches will spy a player they like better than what they already have on the squad. If so, in comes one, and out goes another. If the other makes it through the waiver wire gauntlet and onto the practice squad, then someone on the practice squad will have to go.
The big question for fans right now, is did you see enough in a quarter and a half to believe that the Bucs can run it back? We shall see. Roster cuts are due Tuesday.
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