First look: How the Bucs are lining up in 2016
It's hard to read too much from the Bucs' preseason opener at the Eagles, in part because Tampa Bay rotated in 84 players, matching the most of any NFL team to play in the preseason so far.
But in looking at participation logs, we can get the first taste of how the Bucs will line up in 2016 -- what formations are more likely than others, again based on a small and hardly normal sample from Thursday night. Read as much or as little into this as you'd like:
-- The Bucs' starters, across the board, saw less than 20 plays Thursday. Offensive starters got a max of 18, with Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson getting 14 and Doug Martin getting 13. On defense, the starting secondary got 19, and the only starting defensive lineman to get more than 19 was Jacquies Smith, who got 25, likely to offset the absence of Will Gholston, who was excused.
-- On defense, it will be a misnomer again to call the three-linebacker look the Bucs' "base defense." They'll be in a nickel package with five defensive backs and two linebackers much more often -- on Thursday, they were in nickel more than twice as often. The Bucs' top two strongside linebackers -- who come off the field in nickel -- saw Daryl Smith with 13 snaps and Devante Bond with 16; by comparison, the top two nickel defensive backs saw Jude Adjei-Barimah with 35 snaps and Vernon Hargreaves with 30, though some of those were as outside corners. The league's "lineup detail" data shows 43 snaps in nickel and 20 in base, though they also show three snaps with five defensive linemen, and I can't find those anywhere.
-- On offense, the primary formation is three receivers and one tight end -- Bucs ran that in 47 of 70 plays, or about 67 percent. The next most common look is 2-WR, 2-TE -- they worked out of that 19 times, or about 27 percent, and they went with a 3-TE, 1-WR look on four downs, including a fourth-and-1 play where they were dropped for a loss. Receivers logged 199 snaps, while tight ends logged 105.
-- QB/OL splits: Jameis Winston got the first 18 snaps, then backups Mike Glennon and Ryan Griffin got 29 snaps each. Second offensive line came in with Glennon, and C Evan Smith and RT Gosder Cherilus left when he did. The other three got double-reps with the third line, with rookie guard Taylor Fallin getting 55 snaps, most of anyone on the team, rookie left tackle Leonard Wester playing 48 and left guard Josh Allen playing 43. So of the bottom four on the line, RT Kelby Johnson and C Ben Gottschalk got 29 snaps, while LT Kelvin Palmer and G Joel Hale got only 13.
-- Which backups played the least? It's not a good sign for the initial cuts to 75 if you stay on this list as the preseason progresses. Fewest among backups at each position: Russell Hansbrough with 13 at RB, Evan Spencer and Andre Davis with 16 and 17 at WR, Alan Cross with 6 at TE, Joel Hale and Kelvin Palmer with 13 on OL, Martin Ifedi with 5 at DE, Travis Britz with 11 at DT, Josh Keyes with 6 at LB, Javien Elliott with 9 at CB and Elijah Shumate and Kimario McFadden with 11 at safety.
-- Who played the most on special teams? Adarius Glanton and rookie Devante Bond led the way with 16 snaps each, followed closely by Keith Tandy and Jeremiah George. Next? Danny Vitale, Luke Rhodes, Josh Robinson with 11; Johnthan Banks ,Ryan Smith, Noah Spence, Major Wright with 10. Much better to be a backup with special-teams role than a backup without one ...