In what feels an awful lot like a repeat of 2016’s preseason schedule, the Buccaneers host the Cleveland Browns at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night. As Old School, Keith Larson, Christian Perez, and Justin Pawlowski announced on the podcast last night, this week will feature a unification of BucsNation where all the different sects – the Stick Carriers, the Buccaholics and the What The Buc Krewe (as well as anyone else who wants to join in) come together to take back Ray Jay.
Now, it won’t feature some of the cool things the guys discussed that will be staples in the regular season – like the still-to-be-named Bucs fan march (how about the Pirate Procession?) from the WTB tailgate on Ohio – but Pawlowski mentioned he some really cool ideas to make this like no other preseason game ever. Definitely take a listen when you get a chance.
While there’s that experience to be watching out for, what about the Bucs and Browns on the field?
Preseason Records: Tampa Bay 1-1, Cleveland 2-0
Game Time/Network: Saturday, August 26th, 7:30 pm EST on WFLA Channel 8
Spread: Tampa Bay -3
Series: Bucs lead the Preseason series 5-4, they are 3-3 at home vs. the Browns.
2017 Preseason Rankings
Tampa Bay – Offense (8th Overall, 5th passing, 11th rushing, 28th in ppg), Defense (17th overall, 15th vs. the pass, 16th vs. the run, 11th in scoring defense)
Cleveland – Offense (23rd Overall, 18th passing, 18th rushing, 23rd in ppg), Defense (9th overall, 9th vs. the pass, 9th vs. the run, 4th in scoring defense)
Bucs Players to Watch
All of Tampa Bay’s starters (who are not nicked up) will play into the third quarter of this game. Of course, the hope is all of them come out unscathed. More importantly, though, Tampa Bay’s starters need to put their final stamp on this dress rehearsal and show the Bucs Nation what to expect in 2017.
So rather than single out a single player this week on offense and defense, I’m focused on all of the Bucs’ starters.
Browns Players to Watch
Defensively, without question, the most interesting player to watch would be the Browns first overall pick, Myles Garrett. Garrett has already notched his first sack of the preseason and with Demar Dotson out on the offensive line, Tampa Bay’s going to have to deal with him.
On offense, who else but the rookie quarterback making his first NFL start (albeit in preseason), DeShone Kizer? Kizer has been a dual threat, completing 61% of his passes for 258 yds and a touchdown while rushing for another 47 yds and a score. He has been the most impressive of the Browns’ QB room, which includes former Texan Brock Osweiler.
When The Bucs Have The Ball
Redzone scoring. The Bucs have the 8th ranked offense in the NFL this preseason, but the 28th ranked scoring offense. It will be imperative for Tampa Bay to put up 7 points (looking at you Nick Folk) every time they cross into striking distance. It won’t be easy against Cleveland, who come into the game with the 9th rated defense in the NFL and 4th in the league in scoring defense.
When The Browns Have the Ball
Cleveland doesn’t really have a running game that scares you, as Kizer is actually the team’s leading rusher. Job one is to get pressure on the rookie, get him off his mark and keep him contained in the pocket. Tampa Bay may need to mush rush to make sure Kizer doesn’t pop out and run for first downs on scrambles. Contain, pressure and punish.
Weird Facts Only Interesting To Me
- This is the third straight year the Browns are the third preseason game opponent for the Buccaneers.
- This is also the third straight year Cleveland has come to Raymond James Stadium in the preseason.
- Before 2015, the Bucs hadn’t played the Browns in the preseason since 2001.
- The Bucs are 6-4 in the last 10 Week 3 preseason games.
- Winning the third preseason game is considered an important barometer of how the season may go. In the last 20 years, the Bucs have won the third preseason game 12 times. Of those 12 seasons, 7 times the team finish .500 or better, including an 11-5 campaign in 1999.
- But it’s not always the best indicator. In that same time frame, the Bucs finished with 4 or fewer wins on the season 3 times.
- In the last 20 years, the Bucs lost the third preseason game 8 times. In those seasons, the Bucs have averaged 7.6 wins a season, including the 12-4 2002 Super Bowl year.
One Last Thing
Don’t forget I live tweet every Bucs game. Give me a follow because it’s almost like having a beer and watching the game right with me and you get gems like this –
— JC De La Torre (@jcdelatorre) August 12, 2017