Preseason Preview: Bucs vs. Bengals

For at lot of NFL teams, week two of the preseason doesn’t carry much weight when compared to the other weeks. It’s not as important as week three. It doesn’t have the new car smell of week one. It doesn’t even have the youthful ferocity of depth battles that you get in week four. It’s usually just about continuing the path of improvement and staying healthy.

Both of those things are important for the Buccaneers in week two, but there’s a lot more to it. There is some talk about the Bucs wanting to win one at home in Winston’ home debut, but it’s a shortsighted thought process. The win that matters is Tennessee, not Cincinnati. Lots of players will be looking to rebound in week two, and there’s plenty to watch for from Tampa Bay this week.

What to Expect: Bucs vs. Bengals Preview

Despite the dynamite level overreaction for his week one performance, Jameis Winston was respectable in his debut. He took his lumps, and he eventually found a rhythm. In week two, he needs to continue to find his rhythm and do so quickly. A fast start will work wonders for the Buccaneers offense, and that starts with Winston.

The standout weapon in week one was Louis Murphy, but keep an eye on an emerging role from tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins. The comparisons have been made with Dirk Koetter’s prior usage of Tony Gonzalez and Winston’s comfort at FSU with Nick O’Leary, but it’s simpler than that. ASJ is a beast, and Winston needs to use his beasts.

The offensive line will continue to be a focus until it performs well enough for us to forget how big of a problem it is. Ali Marpet was turning heads in week one, and that should continue. Donovan Smith had some good moments, and some pitiful ones. He needs to show consistency and the ability to recognize a spin move. It’s unclear how much we’ll see newly acquired tackle Gosder Cherilus, but watch for his adjustment to the line in Dotson’s absence.

Rookie Kwon Alexander was turning heads all last week with a poise and intensity that was even drawing comparisons to Lavonte David. Alexander has earned himself a spot starting at middle linebacker, and it will be important to watch how he commands the defense this week. Meanwhile, watch for Lansanah and Carter potentially stepping up with Kwon’s added competition.

On the defensive side of the ball, there needs to general improvement from every group. While Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ main offense may not be on the field long, the Tampa Bay defense will need to make a statement in attempting to contain what could be a potent attack both in the air and on the ground. Pay close attention to possible changes now that Head Coach Lovie Smith will be calling the defensive plays.

With these things in mind, try to pull some nuggets of actual information out of an exciting Monday Night Football matchup. If you’re in the Tampa area, make sure you get on down to Raymond James Stadium. Support the team, support What the Buc?, and get some fan practice in for the regular season. Join the Siege!