Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs lose to Jaguars in preseason opener

JACKSONVILLE — Josh McCown waited 10 years between opportunities to begin even the preseason as a starting NFL quarterback.

After running for his life in Friday's 16-10 loss to the Jaguars, he probably wondered: What was the big hurry, anyway?

With his blockers proving to be more ushers for the Jags' defensive linemen than body guards (right this way to the new quarterback, gentlemen), McCown suffered through a punishing debut at EverBank Field.

The 35-year-old Bears free agent, who had not begun the season as a starting quarterback since 2004 with the Cardinals, was harassed and hit on nearly every pass attempt.

He finished 2-for-4 for 20 yards, but those aren't the numbers that tell the story. McCown was stripped and fumbled twice, losing one, forced to scramble on two occasions, sacked once and pressured into throwing an interception that was returned 68 yards for a touchdown by safety Winston Guy.

"Protection-wise, we didn't hold up as well as we needed to, which put us in a bind a little bit," said coach Lovie Smith. "Disappointed with how we performed on the offensive side, but we have time.

"We didn't play well, that's about as detailed as I can be. What else you want? Guy for guy? As far as being detailed, I haven't seen the video. I just know we weren't able to do anything offensively. They got pressure. We couldn't run the football. So it wasn't good."

McCown was disappointed but not discouraged by the performance on offense.

"You learn a lot from these games," he said. "Things you don't maybe discover in practice, you discover when you get to live action. We certainly learned some things, and it'll help us.

Backup quarterback Mike Glennon entered in the second half and fared a little better. He went 11-for-19 for 140 yards and led the Bucs to all 10 points, including 6-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Streeter.

The Bucs had 249 yards of total offense on 12 possessions, but 183 yards came on Glennon's five series. But overall, the execution on offense was lacking in every area. The Bucs were only 3-for-13 on third-down conversions.

"We see we have a long ways to go and we'll start working on that," Smith said. "What you can't do after the first preseason game, if we had scored 100 points tonight, I'd come in the same way. Don't look too much into this first preseason game, good or bad."

The Bucs overhauled their offensive line in the offseason. Released were left tackle Donald Penn and left guard Davin Joseph. Signed were left tackle Anthony Collins, center Evan Dietrich-Smith and guard Oniel Cousins.

But things went bad from the outset for McCown and the Bucs.

On the first possession, his 17-yard completion to Chris Owusu was erased by a holding penalty on right tackle Demar Dotson, the only holdover from the starting O-line in 2013. Cousins was beaten and called for illegal use of hands on third down, a penalty that was declined.

On the first play of the Bucs' second possession, McCown was pressured and stripped of the ball by defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. But McCown scooped up the fumble and raced 17 yards. The drive ended when Collins was beaten by Chris Clemons, sacking McCown for a 5-yard loss on third down.

The third drive stalled when running back Bobby Rainey failed to pick up blitzing linebacker Telvin Smith and McCown threw high to rookie Mike Evans. The pass sailed into the arms of Guy, who avoided two tackles on his way down the sideline for a touchdown and a 7-0 Jags lead with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter.

McCown's night ended on the first series of the second quarter when he was sacked by Nate Stupar, who recovered the fumble.

"We didn't play well as an offense," Smith said. "Of course, Josh is a part of that. He'd like to have that ball back."

While the offense was completely out of synch, the defense was superb and looked to be in midseason form. Two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy spent his time in the Jaguars backfield.

The game wasn't decided until the fourth quarter when former Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson scored on a 23-yard touchdown run around left end.

"We made a lot of mistakes, but that's why we get four (preseason games)," Dotson said. "We have to work through it, come back Sunday, watch the film and get better. We're not going to push any panic button. We're going to work through it and get better."

The Bucs' next chance to do that is Aug. 16 at Raymond James Stadium against the Dolphins.

     
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