Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jameis Winston's improvisation lifts Bucs' passing game

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TAMPA — Bucs QB Jameis Winston piled up 259 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first half as Tampa Bay pulled away to a 27-3 lead on the Browns in Friday's preseason game, and some of the biggest throws were extended plays in which he stayed alive until a target came open.

Coach Dirk Koetter understands there can be risks with improvisation, but his offense's first touchdown in the 30-13 win came after Winston rolled to his right, ducked left and found RB Charles Sims in the end zone.

"If you just look at that game, Jameis moved around a lot," Koetter said Saturday. "(Offensive coordinator) Todd Monken tells the offense all the time that our No. 1 pass play, when you think about it and you have all the concepts, is scramble."

On another offscript pass, Winston had plenty of time in the pocket to find WR Vincent Jackson down the left sideline for a 31-yard gain.

"Jameis had all day to throw. That was probably the best pass protection of the night," Koetter said. "He was back there forever."

EIGHT IS ENOUGH: After eight sacks Friday, the Bucs led the NFL with an average 4.3 per game in the preseason. Entering Saturday's games, 27 of the league's 32 teams didn't have eight sacks total.

"We sacked them one out of every five times (they passed)," Koetter said. The Browns had 39 passing plays. "That's a ridiculous ratio. That's not going to happen very often. If it does, we're probably going to win."

Five of the Bucs' eight sacks were set up by the defense forcing the Browns into third downs requiring 10 yards or more for a first down, obvious passing downs on which the Bucs could slide an end inside and use faster pass rushers such as Jacquies Smith (two sacks), Howard Jones (one) and rookie Noah Spence (one).

SPECIAL INDEED: With Adam Humphries' 73-yard punt return for a touchdown, Bernard Reedy's 43-yard punt return and Roberto Aguayo going 6-for-6 on extra points and field goals, and putting all seven of his kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks, Koetter was very pleased with the special teams.

"I know I said how bad they were at Philly (in the preseason opener, a 17-9 loss)," Koetter said. "They were spectacular (Friday). They were special."

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs don't practice again until Monday. They have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to make their initial cuts from 90 to 75 players. … The Bucs have struggled to run the ball consistently, tying for 30th in the NFL with an average of 2.7 yards per carry. … Newcomer Bryan Anger has had a significant edge statistically over Jake Schum in the battle for the punting job, averaging 48.7 yards per punt to Schum's 41.0. Anger has an edge in net average as well, 44.1 yards to Schum's 39.5.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

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