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Bucs journal: Ill-timed penalties plague Tampa Bay

An early assessment of the team’s preseason game against the Dolphins raised flags, but not the kind in the team’s slogan.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are announced while taking the field before the start of the preseason game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins on Friday, August 16, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times
Published Aug. 17
Updated Aug. 17

TAMPA — Going into Friday’s preseason game against the Dolphins, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians said the main thing he wanted to see his team do was play a cleaner game, especially after Tampa Bay committed 14 penalties for 112 yards in its preseason opener in Pittsburgh. Four of those penalties extended Steelers’ drives.

Despite a 16-14 win over the Dolphins, a game that was decided on rookie Matt Gay’s 48-yard field goal, the Bucs didn’t clean up those penalties. They committed fewer penalties -- eight for 81 yards -- against Miami, but those numbers didn’t completely tell how costly those flags were.

The Bucs defense committed four 15-yard penalties that led to first downs -- three roughing the passer calls and an unnecessary roughness penalty —
and all of those flags negated key defensive stops. And the Bucs’ biggest offensive gain of the night — a screen pass running back Dare Ogunbowale took for 45 yards early in the third quarter — came back because of a holding call.

The first flag, an unnecessary roughness penalty on linebacker Deone Bucannon in the first quarter, gave the Dolphins a first down after they had been stopped on third down.

On their second drive of the game, the Dolphins had a third-and-9 at the Bucs’ 18-yard line when Josh Rosen hit Preston Williams over the middle. Vernon Hargreaves had Williams wrapped up low 2 yards shy of the first down, before Bucannon hit Williams high. The penalty gave Miami a first down at the 5. Miami didn’t score, failing to convert on fourth-and-goal when Rosen one-hopped a pass to Isaiah Ford in the end zone.

Then, on the final play of the first quarter, inside linebacker Kevin Minter dropped Miami running back Myles Gaskin for a 5-yard loss on second-and-1, but end Kevin O’Conner was flagged for holding, altering what would have been a third-and-6 to a first-and-10 at near midfield. The Dolphins would end that drive with a 45-yard field goal for the game’s first score.

Ogunbowale, who led the Bucs with 44 total yards through three quarters, took a Ryan Griffin screen pass down the Bucs sideline 45 yards to the Miami 30 on the Bucs’ first drive of the second half, but it was called back by holding on rookie guard Zack Bailey. That put the Bucs on their 33 with a first-and 22.

The Bucs then had Miami deep in its own territory — first-and-9 at the 9-yard line — and had stopped the Dolphins on third down but a 15-yard face mask penalty on Demone Harris gave Miami a first down.

Offensive line spread thin

The Bucs’ offensive line depth, already a question going into Friday’s game, was without veteran lineman Earl Watford, who missed Friday’s game with back spasms.

They were already without guard Ruben Holcomb, who was third on the depth chart at right guard behind starter Alex Cappa and Watford, so third-string left tackle William Poehls shifted to right guard when Cappa left the game. Poehls was claimed off waivers on July 31 from the Colts and has yet to play in a regular season game.

Miscellany

— Former Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, listed as the Dolphins No. 1 quarterback but battling Josh Rosen for the starting job, did not play in the first half Friday. The pair shared first-team snaps during this week’s joint practices with the Bucs, but Rosen played the entire first half. Fitzpatrick entered the game in the first drive of the second half. Fitzpatrick was just 3-for-9 for 20 yards on the night.

— Rookie safety Mike Edwards didn’t play Friday even though he wasn’t listed among the Bucs not expected to play before the game. Edwards, who didn’t practice all week after sustaining a hamstring injury in the Pittsburgh game, was replaced by Kentrell Brice on the first-team defense.

— Bucs outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who didn’t practice all week following an ankle injury in Friday’s game against the Steelers, returned to action Friday, recorded one sack and provided pressure off the edge on another that led to a sack by O’Connor in the second quarter.

— Among the players who didn’t dress for Friday’s game, Arians said he hoped that a pair of rookies, wide receiver Scotty Miller, who has begun running to test his injured hamstring, and outside linebacker Anthony Nelson, could return for next Friday’s game against Cleveland.

— Ndamukong Suh, Ali Marpet and Mike Evans were the Bucs’ team captains on Friday.

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.

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