Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Fennelly: Bucs wish they hadn’t gotten a long look at Jameis Winston and the offensive line

The Browns are gaining on respectability. The Bucs are going in reverse.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) gets sacked by Cleveland Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon (54) to bring up a 4th and 15 during second quarter action at Raymond James Stadium on Friday, Aug. 23, 2019 in Tampa. [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Aug. 24
Updated Aug. 24

TAMPA – It is the season within this season.

And the Bucs are already breathing down the Browns’ necks.

They’re waiting to replace Cleveland as the team with the longest playoff drought. The Bucs are at 11 seasons. The Browns are up ahead, at 16, not a sniff of playoffs since 2002.

But the Bucs show real promise, even with Bruce Arians in charge, at least they did as the teams met Friday night at Raymond James Stadium in the all-important third meaningless preseason game.

We got our longest look at Jameis Winston and the first-team offense. And we wish we hadn’t.

Winston can look good, not good. What else is new? He is already the franchise’s all-time touchdown thrower and will become the Bucs’ all-time leader in passing yards early this season barring injury, which we were reminded about when he was sacked on consecutive plays in the Bucs’ first possession and five times inside of 30 minutes.

And Arians is going to attack and send everybody out?

Bring your dental record to every game, Jameis.

The right side of the line, with Demar Dotson and Alex Cappa, is going to be a problem. Center and the left side might be trouble too. This whole season could cave.

Bottom line: Seven first-half Bucs possessions, no points, no nothing, Winston 9 for 19 for 88 yards, all over the place. Throw in a missed field goal from rookie Matt Gay. Welcome to the long very gray line, kid.

Back to Winston. Arians has been happy with his work ethic. But Friday reminded us that for all the Bucs moved the ball in the air last season, they didn’t score as much as they should have, a slight problem when combined with a defense that surrendered 29 points per game.

Winston surely contributed his share to the problems, with 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, but he also had no running game and bad pass blocking. And we still don’t know if that is going to even come close to changing under Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who will call plays instead of Arians. Can’t wait to see if that lasts if the Bucs begin piling up losses.

I don’t put much into the look of any preseason, good or bad, but I bet Arians began to see reality on Friday.

But what is interesting is the perceived optics of the teams that met Friday. The Browns have been awful for so long, but the Bucs are catching up. The Browns have been ridiculously bad during their playoff drought, bottoming out at 0-16 in 2017 and going a phenomenally putrid 4-44 in one three-year stretch. But give the Bucs time.

All you need to know is that the Bucs worst defeat last season was a win, a 29-26 comeback overtime win over the Browns, one that made the Bucs 3-3, and put enough bubbles in former head coach Dirk Koetter and eternal Bucs GM Jason Licht to actually think the Bucs had a chance to make the postseason.

They did not, but the Browns win made them hoard players instead of trading them, a mistake.

Look at that offensive line. The Bucs are spending $30 million combined this season on Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Ryan Jensen this season, and we’re about to find out if Licht throwing money at pretty much the same line that couldn’t block last season means the problem will go away.

The Browns are gaining on respectability. The Bucs are going in reverse. They might be all alone, worst playoff drought going, after this season. They might not be able to stop it, especially if it requires blocking.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly


ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Josh Cranor, 35, of Lakeland and his son Jake, 7, react after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds of the Bucs' 32-31 loss to the New York Giants Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the mistakes that led to the Buccaneers’ blown 18-point lead and 32-31 loss to the Giants.
  2. New York Giants linebacker Markus Golden (44) celebrates as Matt Gay (9) looks at the ground after Gay missed a 34 yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. When drafted by the Bucs in April, Gay said Tampa Bay's woeful kicking history had nothing to do with him. It does now. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The rookie kicker had endeared himself to fans in just a short time in Tampa Bay, but fell into the same trap as previous Bucs kickers on Sunday.
  3. Mike Evans (13) leaves the field after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Giants 32, Bucs 31: Mike Evans says the first three-touchdown game of his NFL career should have been four. Here’s why.
  4. Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder (76) attempts to block Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) as Barrett strips the ball from quarterback Daniel Jones (8) passes during the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay's 32-31 loss to the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 22, 2019. Bucs defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) recovered the fumble. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Bucs Journal: Tampa Bay’s 32-31 loss to the New York Giants overshadowed some stellar individual performances, including one by their pass-rushing specialist.
  5. Matt Gay missed three kicks Sunday against the Giants, including the potential game-winner. The game never should have come down to him, though. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Thomas Bassinger: This loss is on coach Bruce Arians, not the kicker.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay (9), far right, attempts a 34 yard field goal in the final seconds against the New York Giants Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 32-31. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The optimism of Carolina is gone and some outstanding individual efforts are wasted.
  7. Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay (9) misses a field goal as time expired in Tampa Bay's 32-31 loss to the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Rick Stroud: The rookie kicker said Tampa Bay’s 32-31 loss Sunday “is 100 percent on me." He’s wrong.
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) celebrates after scoring during the first half of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida.  MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Evans nets his first 100-yard receiving day of the season before halftime, along with three touchdowns in a performance that feels headed toward the record books.
  9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Josh Cranor, 35, of Lakeland and his son Jake, 7, react after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay (9) missed a 34 yard field goal in the final seconds against the New York Giants Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 32-31. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Giants 32, Bucs 31: Tampa Bay was done in by another rookie quarterback.
  10. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-1 as they face the New York Giants for the second home game of the regular season. The Giants defeated the Buccaneers 32-31.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement