One more quarter of football has come and gone, and we’ve been given a painful reminder that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still a work in progress. There’s no reason to start panicking and folding on season expectations, but this why fans need to temper expectations. Here are the immediate impressions against the Cleveland Browns.
Offense starts slow, and it’s downhill from there. The night and day difference between the first and second preseason games all started with the first offensive drive. The opening drive against Cleveland was eerily reminiscent of week one, and the offensive line looked incapable of handling Cleveland’s constant rush.
Special teams have more problems than the kickers. There’s been plenty of speculation on the punters and kickers, but the players managing the coverage units also fell short early. Right after the first failed drive, a punt was returned for a touchdown with ease.
Josh McCown slices and dices the defense. It’s been proven before that Josh McCown can be an effective quarterback, he just couldn’t in Tampa Bay. One would hope his knowledge of the Bucs defense is the main reason he was successful early, but the defense wasn’t tackling or containing the run well enough.
Down two scores early, the Bucs needed to respond. With barely a minute left in the first quarter, the Buccaneers were already down 14-0. With an important high-pressure drive, Jameis Winston got mauled by the Browns’ defensive line. Trying to throw away the ball, Winston threw the first interception of the night.
As always, we need to remember that preseason only means so much. There’s been a lot of talk that Jameis will step up in the clutch regular season moments, but this hasn’t done any convincing for weary Bucs fans. Cleveland’s defensive line is largely underrated, but the Bucs simply can’t perform like this when the regular season gets here.