Thursday, April 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones: NFL's greed leads three thoughts from Thursday's Bucs preseason finale

TAMPA — Three things that popped into my head during Thursday night's preseason game between the Bucs and Washington.

1. The NFL should be ashamed to charge fans full price — or any price at all, come to think of it — to watch the fourth and final preseason game. The Bucs sat 37 players, 35 of whom will probably be on the opening day roster. Washington sat 31 players, most of whom will play significantly this season. While the game is important for the handful of players still trying to make a roster, it mostly featured guys who will never play another game of organized football again. At least in the United States and outside of an arena. If you are going to subject fans to this game, the least teams can do is open up the gates and let fans who normally never get to see professional football up close get in for free.

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be the Bucs backup quarterback. For now. If and when Ryan Griffin returns from injury, perhaps halfway through the season, he could supplant Fitzpatrick. Until then, the Bucs need starter Jameis Winston to stay healthy. You could say the same for every NFL team, that its starter needs to stay on the field. Fitzpatrick hasn't looked particularly sharp in the preseason, but don't read too much into that. He has played mostly with backups. If the time comes that the Bucs have to go without Winston, Fitzpatrick at least knows what an NFL game looks like from behind center with 116 NFL starts. The Bucs don't want to play too many games without Winston, but they probably can afford to play a couple.

3. The Bucs offense sputtered in the preseason. The defense still has some questions, especially in the secondary. Kicking is an issue until it isn't. But one thing the Bucs don't need to worry about is the punter. The Bucs expect to have an explosive offense and rarely use the punter, Bryan Anger. But when they do, they have one they can rely on.

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