TAMPA — His quarterback was knocked down too many times, but the sky, Bucs coach Lovie Smith said, is not falling.
After watching video of Friday's 16-10 loss at Jacksonville in the first preseason game for both teams, Smith asked for patience.
"You guys (in the media) don't lead the charge to start overreacting," Smith said Saturday. "Just like when you come out to practice, the first preseason game, don't start printing up the Super Bowl tickets or cutting everybody on the team. Let things play out a little bit. That's what preseason games are for."
Josh McCown was consistently under siege and completed just 2 of 4 passes for 20 yards.
He also was sacked once and fumbled twice (losing one), and Jaguars safety Winston Guy returned an interception 68 yards for a touchdown.
Much of the pressure came from inside as starting guards Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins were beaten. Meredith also had a false start, and Cousins was flagged for hands to the face (although that was declined).
Smith said he believed right tackle Demar Dotson and center Evan Dietrich-Smith played well, but there was plenty of blame to go around. Dotson's holding penalty negated a 17-yard completion to Chris Owusu. Starting left tackle Anthony Collins yielded a sack to end Chris Clemons.
"Demar Dotson played well," Smith said. "I mean he had the penalty that really hurt us. Most of those aren't normally called. He's been that way throughout. He's not the only one. Evan (Dietrich-Smith) played well. We didn't play as well at the guard position as we needed to, but we needed to see them in that role.
"It comes down to a one-on-one game, period. So we didn't handle those situations. It's not like you want to double (team) their best players. You want to put guys on an island to see how we could perform one-on-one. And we got beat a few times, especially inside at the guard position. But we got beat on the outside, too, (against) some of our better players. That will just kind of get their attention a little more."
Because of the pressure, it was difficult to evaluate McCown. He showed mobility in scrambling out of the pocket. But his throw under duress to rookie receiver Mike Evans was intercepted.
"It was tough, but we got a chance to evaluate Josh under tough circumstances," Smith said of the quarterback signed during the offseason to supplant Mike Glennon as the starter. "That's why he's a mobile quarterback sometimes. Sometimes, you have to move around a little bit. Josh will learn. He took a hit as he scrambled one time. You can't take that hit. But we'll have better protection for him, and he'll be able to have more success.
"Any time you throw a pick, it's bad. There's a lot of people involved. We looked at the route. Was the split right? Was the receiver where he needed to be? Of course, there was pressure. That's part of it also. All of that comes into play."
Smith said he was pleased with the play of the defense, particularly the first unit and specifically tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David. He also singled out cornerback Johnthan Banks and tackle/end Da'Quan Bowers.
The Bucs return to training camp today and host Miami on Saturday.
"You have to keep in mind what the goal of the preseason is: to get ready for the Carolina Panthers (in the season opener)," Smith said. "With that, we wanted to put our guys in position to … let them play. We didn't have an extensive game plan or anything like that.
"With that said, though, there's some things that we liked from this first preseason game. Some of the players we thought would play a certain way did that. And some of the players we felt would play a little bit better didn't play as well as we would've liked. So that's kind of where we are right now."
When: Through Thursday
Where: One Buc Place
Today: 2-4:30 p.m.
Monday: 4:30-7 p.m.
Tuesday: 4:30-7 p.m.
Thursday: 2-4:30 p.m.
Tickets: buccaneers.com, (813) 870-2700
Note: Times subject to change. For the latest updates, see buccaneers.com.
Saturday: vs. Dolphins, 7:30, Ch. 8 *
Aug. 23: at Bills, 4:30, Ch. 8
Aug. 28: vs. Redskins, 7:30, Ch. 8 *
* Subject to blackout