It was the preseason home opener, the first chance for Bucs fans to see their team in action at Raymond James Stadium. The first thing they didn't see Saturday was a player on either team kneeling or sitting during the national anthem — and the Browns were in town. It was the players' right every bit as much as their right to not stand. Anyone have a problem with that?
Even better for Bucs fans, Jameis Winston stood after he was smacked in the back by Cleveland rookie defensive end and No. 1 NFL draft pick Myles Garrett early in the game. The life of this Bucs season passed before our eyes in an otherwise miserable 13-9 loss. Winston shook it off and threw an interception four plays later.
That summed up the night. Pathetic offense. Drives that didn't finish. True, it's preseason. Keep telling yourself that, Bucs fans.
Can we get a touchdown here?
The Bucs' first-team offense has two touchdowns in three games. Winston, who went 17-for-27 for 200 yards Saturday, hasn't throw a touchdown pass in the preseason, though he came close with that ball Donteea Dye couldn't hold on to as he hit the ground after a great job getting his feet down in the end zone. Winston and most of the starting offense (though no Mike Evans or DeSean Jackson) played into the second half but couldn't close. And this was the final rehearsal for them before the season opener. Can't wait to see Hard Knocks and listen to coach Dirk Koetter on the sideline. And could they throw the ball to O.J. Howard less?
Takeaways, at least
Vernon Hargreaves got his second interception of the season off a deflection by Lavonte David, and rookie linebacker Kendell Beckwith forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate and fellow linebacker Adarius Glanton. Takeaways were key as the defense surged at one point last season. It will have to do it again. Noah Spence stopped the second-team Browns offense with an 11-yard sack. Reserves hung in there.
Folk legend grows
Do we have a kicker? Nick "Money" Folk was 3-for-3 on his field goals, from 31 yards, 42 yards and 43 yards.
Among the missing …
No fewer than 15 Bucs didn't dress for the game, including four starters on offense and four on defense. Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson didn't play. Precautionary. Don't blame the Bucs a bit. See Edelman, Julian. What needs to be blamed here is the NFL and its owners, who insist on charging for these preseason games as if they were regular-season tilts. It remains an abomination and insult to fans everywhere.
Tell me that wasn't cool
I don't care how many times I see it, who can take their eyes off parachutists as they descend into a stadium spewing red smoke and carrying the American flag? I'm all in, mouth open. Saturday, it was Army Lt. Col. Ken Ates and Army Sgt. 1st Class Mike Puma, paratroopers from U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base. Almost nailed it right on the 50-yard line. And a great rendition of the anthem by Cienna Wesley.
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Did we mention the offense couldn't finish?
Yeah, we heard, we heard: It's preseason.