Here it is, the one week of the pre-season that matters. Okay, maybe not matters but has the most regular season-like feel to it. The Bucs will also fire the cannons at Raymond James Stadium for the first time in 2018. Can the Bucs go 3-0 in the fake games? We talk this and what else to watch out for in pre-season week 3.
Getting Out Healthy
The third pre-season game is the one the coaches look forward to the most and yet at the same time dread. This will be the only extended look at your team’s projected starters before the games start to count. It’s also the longest they’ll be exposed for potential injury in games that don’t matter. Tampa Bay has had its share of injuries, half the draft class of 2018 has dealt with injuries, and position groups like the tackles on offense and defense have had their share.
The Bucs yesterday announced that running back Charles Sims was going on IR with a knee injury, the first injury to cost the Buccaneers regular season games. Let’s hope they can get through Week 3 without losing any other starters or key contributors.
The Running Game
It hasn’t just been the much-maligned rookie Ronald Jones, Jr. Aside from Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay as an offensive unit has struggled to run the football. As great as the passing game has been, it’s the lack of the ability to sustain a rushing attack that has prevented the offense from being nigh unstoppable. Tampa Bay is 30th in the pre-season at running the ball, averaging an embarrassingly low 68.5 yds a game an a paltry 2.6 yd per carry average.
If the Bucs are going to compete in the NFC South, they have got to be better on the ground. They may have a chance this week as the Lions have struggled thus far in the pre-season, surrendering 121.5 yds per game.
It’s been there in dribs and drabs. The Bucs defense flashes what it could potentially be. Every once in a while the pass rush will wow you, they’ll make a nice play on the ball or a big hit for a loss. Then there are the times when the pass rush is non-existent, they can’t make open field tackles and the blow coverages. Moving into the third week of the pre-season and wrapping up training camp, we should start seeing this defense make some strides. Each week should be better than the last.
Last week was better than the pre-season opener. This week needs to be better than last week. Keep getting better.
Jameis’ Sign Off
This very well could be the last time we see Jameis Winston until September 30th. Winston has had a tremendous pre-season, reminding Bucs fans why Tampa Bay puts up with all of the off-field shenanigans. Winston is 1st in the NFL in QB Rating (132.2) among quarterbacks with at least 20 throws, completing 77.4% of his passes for 328yds, 2 TDs and most importantly, 0 turnovers.
That’s some good football there by #3. We’d like to see Jameis do it in front of the home crowd tonight, play well, continue to light up the scoreboard and help his football team to another win.
Does having in a winning record in the Pre-season really matter? Of the 7 teams that went 3-1 or better in the pre-season in 2017, only one made the playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1). Heck, one team, the Cleveland Browns, went 4-0 in the Pre-season and 0-16 in the regular season. So no, it doesn’t really matter all that much.
What we will get in this one is a good practice run for the regular season. The starters will play into the third quarter, they actually did some game planning for the Lions. So you hope at least for three quarters, Tampa Bay plays some good football. Still whether or not the Bucs are victorious tonight, don’t fret, in the end, the only ones that matter starts on September 9th.