Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Little to like about Bucs preseason

What to praise about coach Greg Schiano’s Bucs so far this preseason? Well … the punting is promising!

Associated Press

What to praise about coach Greg Schiano’s Bucs so far this preseason? Well … the punting is promising!

TAMPA — We still have more than 21/2 weeks before the Bucs' regular-season opener Sept. 8.

The middle of the locker room at One Buc Place is lined with temporary lockers to house players who won't even be here when the regular season starts.

We're only halfway through the exhibition season.

And, yes, all we've seen so far are a bunch of practices, scrimmages, drills and games that don't count.

Yet name one thing, just one, that has happened so far this preseason that gives you hope for the upcoming Bucs season.

Name one thing that you can point to and say, "Yep, that right there looks good.'' Name one thing that the Bucs can hang their helmets on.

Just one.

Quarterback Josh Freeman? He has been sacked almost as many times (four) as he has completed passes (six). In four series, he has led the team to only three points and 42 yards through the air.

Running back Doug Martin? Last time we saw him, he was being asked how many fingers the trainer was holding up. And speaking of fingers, you would need only four to add up all of his rushing yards.

The offensive line? Well, it will be fine, you would think, when Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph return from injuries. Speaking of which, shouldn't that have happened by now?

Joseph has been out a year with a knee injury and is just now getting involved in full-team drills. Nicks hasn't played this preseason and, quite frankly, no one knows when he will play again and for how long as he continues to have issues with a bad toe that forced him to miss much of last season.

The Bucs still haven't found a dependable tight end or third receiver.

Okay, let's switch over to defense.

The Bucs brag about how they patched up that dreadful secondary from a season ago, but no one bothered to get that message to the Patriots' Tom Brady and the Ravens' Joe Flacco. Those two quarterbacks combined to go 18-for-21 for 164 yards, against mostly Bucs starters. Exhibition or not, those numbers are scary.

Cornerback Darrelle Revis — you remember, the guy the Bucs gave up a first-round pick for, the guy whom the Bucs are paying $16 million a year, the guy who is supposed to solve all the Bucs' pass-defense problems — still hasn't suited up in a game and no one knows for sure when he will.

When will Revis have an impact? Will Revis have an impact?

The pass rush has been non-existent, and we're still not sure if one of the Bucs' key pass rushers, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, can play every down.

Here's how bad it is: the Bucs even have issues at kicker, for crying out loud. They might have to take out a want ad because Lawrence Tynes, the kicker brought in to replace the injured Connor Barth, has a toe injury that he can't overcome at the moment.

What's that leave here, the punter? Okay, I'll give you that one. Michael Koenen looks great.

Well, isn't that special?

I know what you're thinking: Why worry? It's the preseason. There are no trophies or parades for pretend games where half the players are about a week away from never playing football again.

Teams are trying different schemes to see what works and what doesn't. They are giving players various responsibilities to see how they react. Injured players are rested and protected. If it were up to some coaches, there wouldn't even be a scoreboard. Practices are just as valuable as preseason games, maybe even more so.

"To clarify for the fans, whoever sees this or hears this,'' Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said, "we use preseason as a grading scale for certain things, not necessarily for a game. It's a brush-up on things and certain stuff.''

Still, don't you want your first-team offense to string together a few first downs? Maybe punch one into the end zone? Don't you want your big guys up front to get a sack-fumble?

Don't you want your team to have some success?

"We've got to do that, and until you do it, you're not worth a dime,'' coach Greg Schiano said. "But I have confidence we're going to do that. I have confidence in our guys.''

There's an old saying in football: the preseason doesn't count, but it does matter.

"I think it matters a lot,'' Joseph said. "Maybe at the end of the day, it doesn't matter on the scoreboard or in the record books, but in your head, you're trying to get a feel for how good of a season you're going to have.''

And that's the point. Right now, there is no feel for what kind of season the Bucs are going to have. There's no buzz. There's nothing to be excited about. There are way more questions than answers.

There's still time to sort that out. But the time has come to start doing some good things.

Because, as of now, the very best thing you can say about the Bucs' preseason is that it hasn't counted.

Little to like about Bucs preseason 08/20/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs-Jaguars was NFL's lowest-rated ESPN game since 2005


    It is just the preseason, and it is the Jaguars, but Thursday night's Bucs-Jags preseason game earned a 1.6 rating on ESPN, which is the lowest-rated preseason game (excluding NFL Network) in 12 years, according to Sports Media Watch.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, left, talks with coach Dirk Koetter during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
  2. Roberto Aguayo, Jonathan Drouin, Tim Beckham are coming for revenge


    Forget the Three Tenors.

    Make it the Three Terrors.

    The 2017 Unfulfilled Expectations Tour is about to hit Tampa Bay.

    From left, former Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, ex-Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin and former Rays infielder Tim Beckham. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times; DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times; Getty Images]
  3. Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier is congratulated in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Lucas Duda in the sixth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field on Friday.
  4. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz celebrates his Trop-record 482-foot home run in the ninth inning.
  5. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.