The 49ers come to town in Week 1’s matchup. The Buccaneers have the edge defensively. The Garappolo-run offense, however, may give us some trouble if they’re on early. The team lacks elite receiving talent, like a Mike Evans. Jameis Winston and the Bucs’ receiving corps should have a field day against the 49ers weak secondary. The 49ers defensive line could cause trouble for the Bucs offensive line. Kwon Alexander returns to Tampa.
We discuss the Bucs win over the Dallas Cowboys: who shined, who fizzled out, and the terrible announcers. The Bucs cut the roster this weekend as teams around the league get down to 53. Listen for the surprising (and not so surprising) cuts. The practice squad roster fills up, and the Bucs make a trade for offensive line depth.
As the owners of the NFL lobby for an 18-game season, thereby
eliminating two preseason games, the question has once again emerged: Does
preseason really matter? Detractors say no; preseason games are ugly,
sloppy, increase the risk of injury, don’t mean a thing and should be
eliminated from the game forever. I would agree with half of that sentiment.
The games are ugly and sloppy, and injuries do happen. But the games are
meaningful in a variety of ways.
Several years ago, we wanted to determine, once and for all,
whether preseason records were indicative of regular season records. If you did
well during the preseason, were you more likely to do well during the regular
We started the data set at 1995 when the Glazers purchased
the team. What we found was a moderate correlation between the Bucs preseason
performance and regular season performance.
Now, the data shows a moderate correlation
(correlation coefficient of .51 for you stat nerds), meaning it’s not the end
all, be all. Going 1-3 in the preseason doesn’t automatically doom your season.
But, it’s not meaningless either – the preseason carries more weight than often
As fans, we can learn a lot about the team based on the
preseason. As we’ve discovered with the offensive line this year, the preseason
reveals where the team is deficient. This can be a double-edged sword because
as fans we start to panic before the regular season even kicks off. But at the
very least, you’re not surprised when the regular season rolls around.
You also get a gauge for the coaching staff. Do they want to
win above anything else? How hard are they trying? How do they interact with
the players? How do they react in a game? With as much coaching turnover as the
Bucs have had over the years, this can be valuable when a new coaching regime
Likewise, the preseason also gives you a feel for the
players, old and new. Almost every preseason, we find a diamond in the rough who
may not get the fanfare of a franchise player like Mike Evans, but make an
impact nonetheless. Rakeem Nuñez-Roches and Jordan Whitehead in particular have
made a splash this preseason. On the other hand, the rookies who garnered a lot
of attention in training camp have yet to show up during the games.
This is another benefit of the preseason – every year, a few
training camp warriors emerge who outshine everyone else. But once they
actually hit the field and play against a non-Buccaneer opponent, they fail to
show up. The speed of the NFL is unlike anything these guys have ever
experienced, so it’s no wonder some easily get lost. Without the preseason, however,
we wouldn’t be able to weed these players out until they were already on the
On top of all of that, the most valuable part of preseason is
what it does to the fanbases around the league. We’re all on a level playing
field. It’s any given Sunday, and fans around the league have yet to be let
down by their team. Everyone’s excited for real, actual football. The coaching
staffs, while keeping most of their playbooks close to the chest, give us
little morsels of what’s to come. This preseason, we’ve gotten a little taste
of what a Todd Bowles defense can do and It. Is. Exciting. I cannot wait to see
that defense in full effect Week 1 against the 49ers. But until then, I’ll
settle for preseason.
The regular season is just around the corner. The only thing
standing in the way of real, actual football is the Bucs Week 4 matchup against
Dallas. The Buccaneers travel to Dallas, where contract disputes and position
Two offensive starters are very publicly unhappy with their
current contracts – Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. The players have taken polar
opposite approaches to voice their displeasure. Whereas Elliott has yet to
appear at any Cowboys functions, including preseason games, Prescott has shown
up and participated despite being grossly underpaid this season (Prescott is set
to make a measly $2 million this year).
Both players expect to be paid at the top of their position.
Elliott wants a deal in excess of Todd Gurley’s $60 million, $45 million
guaranteed contract. Cowboys, however, are reportedly squeamish about the
guaranteed portion of that equation. Prescott has reportedly turned down an
offer for $30 million a year, with his target being $40 million a year. For
perspective, Russell Wilson just signed a $35 million a year deal. The team
could franchise tag Prescott in 2020, but would still have to pay him $34
million for that year.
Lucky for the Cowboys, the contract disputes remain on the offensive
side of the ball. Cowboys fans are witnessing a position battle on the other
side of the ball this offseason, and they’ve got a problem every NFL team wants:
too many good players. The defensive line is stacked with talent, so much so
that they’re going to end up letting good players go simply because they don’t
have room for them. The Bucs benefitted from the Browns’ abundance of talent
when they acquired Carl Nassib on waivers prior to the 2018 season.
According to Jess Haynie of Inside the Star, locks to make
the roster include: DE DeMarcus Lawrence, who just signed a huge contact this
offseason; DT Maliek Collins and DT Antwaun Woods, who both played well last
year and based on their utilization this preseason are safe; and DE Trysten
Hill, the Cowboys first pick in the 2019 draft (2nd round).
The next tier are probably making the roster, but this
is the NFL and you never really know. DE Kerry Hyder was a free agent acquisition
this offseason and has been the best performer since his arrival. DE Dorance
Armstrong was the Cowboys’ 2018 4th round pick who specializes in
pass rush and has been a standout this preseason. He may be the stand-in for
Robert Quinn while Quinn serves his two-game suspension for testing positive
for a masking agent. DT Christian Covington was another free agent acquisition
who offers the team versatility.
After these guys, it gets dicey. DT Tyrone Crawford might be
safe but for his $7 million cap hit that becomes guaranteed at Week 1. He’s on
the last year of his contact with the team. The plethora of depth at the position
does not work in his favor. DE Taco Charlton was the team’s 2017 1st
round pick who has underperformed and wasn’t expected to survive final cuts
until his improved performance this preseason. DE Joe Jackson, 5th
round pick, offers a motor and power.
Defensive ends Daniel Ross, Daniel Wise and Ricky Walker and
defensive tackle Jalen Jelks will likely not survive roster cuts.
We don’t expect to see the roster locks in Thursday’s
matchup. Our backup offensive line will get a taste for how deep this Cowboys
defensive line depth runs.
Some good Bucs news with JPP returning to the sideline. One step closer. We talk about ex-Bucs players movement in the league, why Ezekiel is not worth the money, the defensive line issues with the Cowboys, and good football movies.
Ralph’s watched the film. Hear his verdict. We discuss the offensive line performance (was it offensive?), the defense, pleasant preseason surprises and the underwhelming. Plus, Andrew Luck retires, Mike Evans is Molly’s favorite person, and more.
The Buccaneers Week 3 matchup against the Browns remains the
most highly anticipated game of our preseason. We’ll get to see the starters
for an extended period, although for how long is still TBD. We have high hopes
that the Bucs starters will put on a good show nonetheless.
Bruce Arians came out this week boasting about the offensive line’s request to play a full half. BA disagreed with the request, but didn’t completely rule it out. Based on the line’s performance so far this preseason (particularly Donovan Smith), I’m skeptical it was the o-line’s request and not BA’s decision to give them the extra reps, while at the same time allowing them to save face with the public.
Mike Evans won’t play with a suspected quad injury after
being held out of practice this week. We’ll get a good look at what the rest of
the receivers can do, particularly Breshad Perriman (a former Brown, btw). We’ll
also get to see how the coaching staff has valued the lower-tier guys currently
on the bubble.
The anticipation for the Browns is also high. Some would like to see retribution for the Bucs’ victory over the Browns last season. There’s excitement amongst the fanbase for the team led by Baker Mayfield. However, once again the team is rebuilding and one unit yet to be determined is the linebacker corps. A piece by Jeff Risdon on Brownswire.com breaks down the battle:
Only two in the squad, Joe Schobert and Christian Kirksey,
are safe. The team hasn’t said whether they’ll keep five or six linebackers, so
there’s potentially only three spots up for grabs.
Fifth round pick Mack Wilson is a lock to make the roster,
and is already listed behind Christian Kirksey on the depth chart. That leaves
just two spots.
Sione Takitaki is a good run stuffer and the best blitzer on
the team, but a lingering hamstring injury is a strike against him.
Ray-Ray Armstrong was brought back to the team because of
his special teams prowess, but has also shown improvement in his run defense.
Former Buccaneer Adarius Taylor was picked up by the Browns
on a two-year, $15M contract. However, he’s been outplayed by almost every
other guy in the group. He, too, has an upside with his special teams play, but
will it be enough to make the cut? He’s certainly on the bubble.
Undrafted rookie Willie Harvey has shown flashes in OTAs and
on film, but is probably not making the roster.
Anthony Stubbs is auditioning for the last spot on the
practice squad and hasn’t had much opportunities during the preseason.
Undrafted rookie Dedrick Young is likely not making the cut.
Another squad that’s piqued the interest of Browns fans is the punting/kicking unit. Well, really just one guy – The Scottish Hammer. Alias: Jamie Gillan.
Gillan’s family is British, but he grew up in Scotland, hence the name “Scottish Hammer”. His father, a member of the Royal Air Force, got stationed in Maryland when Gillan was in high school. A former rugby player, he’s wowed coaches with his powerful leg since then. His ability to literally flatten footballs has become legend amongst Browns fans. While only brought in to compete with Britton Colquitt for the punting job, fans would like to see him kick in this game – just to see what he can do.
That will all be up to Head Coach Freddie Kitchens.
Kitchens, like many NFL coaches, has a connection to Bruce Arians. Kitchens was
a holdover from Ken Whisenhunt’s staff at Arizona when BA took over, serving as
BA’s quarterback coach from 2013-2016, then as runningbacks coach in 2017.
The Buccaneers Week 2 matchup against the Dolphins was by
far one of the most exciting preseason games I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t be
surprised if this matchup against the Browns beats it.
The Bucs will match up against the Browns this week. What we expect to see from the starters. Mike Evans is sidelined with a suspected quad injury. The Browns and the Scottish Hammer. A battle is a’brewing in Cleveland. Find out which position group is duking it out. Bruce Arians has a connection in Cleveland. Bucs sign another former teammate of Vita Vea. The o-line asks for more snaps. Justin Evans returns. What we learned from Jimmy Garoppolo’s preseason performance.
Besides the obvious standouts in preseason weeks 1 and 2 there have been a few unheralded players that should be pointed out. There are also a few players who should be called out to step up their game. Of course, Tanner Hudson, Ryan Griffen, and Spencer Schnell (in one game against the Steelers) are the obvious standouts. Without the coaches film it is very difficult, if not impossible, to rate the defensive secondary or the wide receivers. Actually, it is a crap shoot to rate anybody without the coaches film. With that being said, here are some players who have made an impact for explosive plays or doing really well for the few snaps they have gotten.
We review the week 2 victory against the Dolphins. Ralph talks surprises in David Kenney and Mazzi Wilkins. Bucs linebackers shine this week, especially Minter, Bond and Harris. Ralph does a 180 on Ryan Griffin. Andre Ellington drops in favor as Dare practices with the ones. Cole Boozer has a rough game. We learn more about the tight end role in this offense.