It’s a new year and we’re bringing back an old favorite – the After Further Review segment on What The Buc. My Monday column, DLT’s Doubloons, is all fan energized and as emotional as a tween at the latest boy band concert. It’s a heat of the moment article that reflects how I’m feeling shortly after the game. This article is a bit different. As you could imagine with the Bucs and Bengals, I was feeling rather annoyed.
I’ve had a moment to calm down, look at the all-22 film (or in the pre-season, re-watch the television broadcast), and truly get a feel for what transpired.
So if you haven’t already, go back and read DLT’s Doubloons, then come on back here and see what I was correct on, what I was completely off my rocker about and other fun stuff. I’ll wait.
Okay, welcome back – here we go.
What I Got Right
I was wondering if I was being a bit too hard on the defense for struggling against Cincinnati’s running game. Not only was I completely correct, it was actually worse than I thought – they were absolutely atrocious. When they weren’t being dominated on the line of scrimmage, the defensive linemen or linebackers would go solo, not fulfilling their proper gap assignments and creating gaping holes that was way too easy for the Bengals backs to run through.
The good news is I don’t really believe it’s a lack of talent. Everything that happened to the Bucs on Friday night is correctable. The question is how quickly they can get it corrected because last I checked Jay Ajayi in Miami is pretty darned good.
What I Got Wrong
Oh Boy. Where do I start? First, Chris Godwin did not struggle as I said in my previous article. In fact, he was open several times throughout the ball game. The problem was the third string offensive line was collapsing so quickly on Fitzpatrick and Griffin that many times Godwin was just hitting his break when the quarterback would have to dump it off to a check down. It wasn’t perfect for Chris, I’d like to see him get off the line of scrimmage a little faster but that could be more of a product of the quarterback running out of time too quickly and the route he was asked to run than on him.
I also owe an apology to the starting offensive line, whom I said got blown off the ball. No, they most certainly did not. In fact, in pass protection, Donovan Smith was tossing around former Buc and current Bengals DE Michael Johnson like he was a five year old. Johnson drove Smith back into Jameis one time and it must have ticked the big man off because the rest of their time in the game, it was no contest.
There were also plenty of holes opened up for the running backs, Doug Martin hit a few of them but missed a few as well. Pre-season with live hitting for the first time, it can get a little sketchy.
I also forgot to mention the play of O.J. Howard. No, he didn’t nab any passes, but this dude was a bulldozer in the running game. Multiple times he pancaked Bengals rushers opening up the edge. Once the running backs get used to seeing that edge held, I think you’re going to be seeing a ton of cut back runs.
Ah, Chris Myers and Ronde Barber. Barber is certainly a lot better than he was when he first started out, but it was a little pre-season for him too. Then there’s Myers who is bored out of his gourd. I’ve always respected him as a play-by-play guy but each year it seems he’s less interested in the action going on the field.
What the Buc Moment of the Game
Without question, it has to be Vernon Hargreaves fantastic snag of an Andy Dalton pass that denied a Bengals scoring opportunity and ended a rather forgettable drive for the Bucs’ first team defense.
This is about as sexy as cornerback play can get right here from a Mike Smith defense. Perfect anticipation and break by Vern for the INT. pic.twitter.com/MesyqrEqEE
— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) August 14, 2017
Were the Bucs as bad as they looked?
Not at all. The offense actually looked very good until they hit the red zone where Jameis tried to force a couple passes into Mike Evans and PacMan Jones got away with holding him (of course, Evans got a way with a push off on the first throw).
I’ll admit the defense had me a bit worried but I’m hoping it was just opening night jitters and a lack of hitting in practice. Through the course of the pre-season, we need to see this get much better or the Bucs will have a big challenge trying to win the opener in Miami.