There has been a gazillion articles written about how Jameis Winston performed during this game so I am not even going to go there. This is going to be an evaluation of things I saw and some things that I have noticed nobody else talking about.
First off, Kwon Alexander. He was promoted to starting MLB after this game. Bruce Carter was originally the starting middle line backer, who replaced Mason Foster from last year who the Bucs let go to the Bears this offseason, but Carter has now been placed at the strong side linebacker position to battle for a starting job with Danny Lansanah. I would imagine Carter is going to end up being a rotational player.
But back to Kwon. I was impressed with his speed and instinct but the one thing that really stood out to me was his missed tackled. I counted 3. With an emphasis on turnovers this year on defense, I am worried that tackling is going to be a major issue for our team. The fact that the Bucs staff (Lovie) has decided to start Kwon even though he missed 3 tackles is very telling to me as to what they are looking for and what they are probably missing. Tackling is simply not going to be a priority this year.
Mason Foster, Mark Barron, and Dashon Doldson were three of our top 5 play makers last year if you count plays per snap. All three of them are gone from our team. They were tackling machines. The only sure tacklers we have on defense are Clinton McDonald, Alterraun Verner, and Lavonte David. I am worried that we are going to lose quite a few games because of our lack of emphasis on tackling.
#32, Dominique Brown. I really liked the way this guy runs. He is a strong downhill runner that is always going to get positive yards. He got positive yards in every carry in this game, even when there was contact in the backfield. He is the type of back that if you need 2-3 yards, he will always get you 2-3 yards. Those types of backs are invaluable. I hope he makes the roster.
#44, Khaseem Greene. Ah, another Schiano man. Hailing from Rutgers, Greene was drafted by the Bears in 2013 and the Bucs picked him up on waivers this year. Greene had a missed coverage early in the game that cost a TD but he also prevented one in what I considered the play of the game. As the Bears RB was getting ready to cross the endzone with about 4:00 left in the third quarter, Greene flew in and batted the ball out of the runner’s hand. The Bucs were able to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchback.
This move by Greene was not an accident. You can see him on tape purposefully going after the ball to knock it out. This is what Lovie preaches with the defense and I would be surprised if Greene does not make the team. The linebacker position is pretty stacked but Greene should be considered an addition.
#72, Garrett Gilkey. He did not perform well at center. He had a couple of botched snaps and he looked confused at times with his blocking assignments. There was one play where the Bucs were backed up in their own endzone and Winston had to scramble to not take a safety. During that play, which lasted for a complete 6+ seconds, Gilkey attempted to block 3 different people and never touched a single person. It was a very strange performance.
#6, Karl Schmitz. Some fans have been calling for our punting, Michael Koenen, to be replaced. Well, Schmitz had his opportunity to take the job and he failed. He had one decent punt but he had one shank that went for about 29 yards, putting the Vikings in scoring position.
#68, Caushad Lyons. Now, it must be remembered that most of these guys were going up against the 2nd and 3rd stringers of the Vikings so their performance must be measured against that. Still, Lyons had one of the best tackles in the game. 14:10 in the 4th quarter and Lyons absolutely destroyed the runner. He hits him from behind and it even looks like it might have been an accident but we need some good violence on our team of that sort. We are way too soft on defence.
#69, Demar Dotson. Our longest tenured Buccaneer got hurt during this game and will be out for a number of weeks due to injury.
#93, Gerald McCoy. He did not look good. The only play he made during his limited snaps was a tackle on the runner. But this happened only after his blocker fell down because of injury. If his blocker would have stayed up and blocking, McCoy would not have made that tackle. McCoy then had an off-sides penalty immediately after that play. Plus, there was a scoring drive that Minnesota did in the first quarter where McCoy was single teamed the whole drive and never got any pressure on the quarterback. Then, on the goal line, McCoy got pushed five yards into the endzone by his blocker, single blocker again, and the runner ran where McCoy was supposed to be for a touchdown. Bad performance by the highest paid player on the team.
#74, Ali Marpet. I will be the first to admit that I thought this was a silly draft pick. When you are in dire need of competent offensive lineman, you do not draft an unknown. Marpet had very little game tape on him and his biggest praise was that he performed well in the senior bowl. I did not think it wise to take a chance on something so important. Yeah, if we already had a stocked line then it would have been fine. But my opinion was shifted watching the guy play Saturday. Of course, he was going up against their 2nd and 3rd stringers but he handled himself very well. I liked his style. Of course, I want to see how he performs against the big boys before I will acknowledge that he was a good pick.
And speaking of our offensive line, the second and third stringers did a good job. They kept great line integrity and gave Glennon a very clean pocket. Again, this could have been due to the sub-par competition but it was encouraging. And I definitely like #60, Jeremiah Warren as our backup center. His stance and release are very very good. He looks like a wall when he sets and does not move much during the snap. I like him and would love to see him get some snaps with the first team.
I have watched every pre-season game this year of every team and I can say that, definitively, the Buccaneers were the worst looking team of them all. The Jets and the Raiders did not look too good either but we took the prize for least prepared looking team. Most people would say that pre-season does not matter, but according to my analysis, for the Buccaneers, pre-season is a pretty good indicator of how the regular season will go. With that being said, unless we show marked improvement in the next 3 preseason games, I am not holding out much hope for us having a good regular season.