It’s just past the middle of the week, but it’s only been three days since Jameis Winston led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their first home win in what feels like an eternity. Yes, I hear you. “It’s ONLY preseason!” Sure, but a win is a win, and we’ll take anything we can get.
If the performance against Cincinnati is any indication, we won’t have to wait any longer than week one of the regular season against Tennessee to talk about a home win without having a preseason addendum to it. Before we get to the reasons why Tampa can defeat the most perpetually vanilla team in the NFL, let’s look at some of the highlights from Monday that still stick out three days later.
Moments to Remember
Jameis Winston and the drive to dream of. It’s nigh impossible to remember the last time Tampa Bay effortlessly marched down the field like they did in the opening drive against the Bengals. It had everything we wanted. Doug Martin rushing successfully. A complete pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Even Jorvorskie Lane caught a pass for seven yards. Lastly, Jameis Winston dove into the end zone for a touchdown less than five minutes into the game. Get used to this, because it’s only the beginning.
Doug Martin plays like The Dougernaut, bitch. He’s said it himself, and I’m trying my best to get the point across. Doug Martin is not the Muscle Hamster. He doesn’t like being called it, and it’s a terrible nickname. However, The Dougernaut truly arrived this time. Martin finished the game with six carries for 59 yards, and an average of 9.8 yards per rush. This sort of reliability in the running game has been missing for too long in Tampa Bay, and it just may be back with a vengeance.
Pressure, and sacks, and turnovers, oh my! After suffering through a year where the famed Lovie Smith defense could never get a rhythm, they showed up big time against Cincinnati. George Johnson finished with 1.5 sacks, Caushaud Lyons and Larry English with one, and McCoy with half a sack. Bradley McDougald grabbed one interception, and Alterraun Verner picked off Andy Dalton and took it to the house for six. The defense wasn’t perfect, but if they keep playing at this level expect a fun season.
Moments to (want to) Forget
Tim Wright drops the ball. I said it on Twitter, I said it in the WTB? chat room, Derek has made this point plenty of times, and I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face. If it hits you in the hands, you have to catch the damn ball. Tim Wright muffing what was an excellent bullet of a pass by Jameis Winston has still got a bad taste in my mouth. If Wright doesn’t learn how to catch the ball again, he won’t make it to the final roster.
Pat Murray is not automatic. He’s damn close to it, but perfection is hard for even the best underdogs. After missing a 50-yard field goal attempt and an extra point attempt, the Buccaneers have lit a fire under Murray by re-signing former Buc Connor Barth. This is no guarantee that Murray goes anywhere, but the kicking and punting competition will continue through the preseason.
Flag on the play again…and again. While much of the game was a far cry from 2014, the penalties got eerily reminiscent of last season. The Bucs finished with an atrocious 14 penalties for 153 yards. No one man was entirely to blame, as the penalties were garnered by several different players on all sides of the ball. As important as protecting the ball is, penalties come into the same equation. You can’t shoot yourself in the foot like this, plain and simple.
The only true downfall of the game against the Bengals was that it was preseason, and as a result it has to viewed through a different pair of goggles. The Bucs were far from perfect, but there was more consistency and plenty of big plays to go around. There are two more preseason games to go before we get to see Tampa Bay square off in regular season play, but the signs are good. There’s no need to panic or cry wild card. Just sit back and enjoy this fact. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won in Raymond James Stadium. Fire the cannons, and stock up on ammunition.