The Filibuster: Preseason Week 2

The Bucs’ 27-21 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was more troubling than triumphant. Once again, elements of the starting lineup looked shaky, especially on offense.

The biggest problem of the night was Jameis Winston. From his first pass, the second-year passer struggled with poor mechanics and spotty accuracy. He did little to prove he could carry the offense without his Doug Martin security net.

Winston, and the Bucs generally, were bailed out by the Jaguars lack of discipline. Jacksonville committed 13 penalties for 121 yards. Tampa Bay is unlikely to get that kind of advantage very often during the regular season.

The offensive line wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t do much help matters. Center Evan Smith was blown off his mark on the majority of his snaps. Demar Dotson was less than sharp, drawing an early false start penalty and missing some blocks in motion.

The running backs provided one of the few bright spots on offense. Mike James looks like he could start for the Bucs, or really any team in the NFL, sharing Doug Martin’s stubbornness on initial contact. It would be shocking not to see Peyton Barber and Storm Johnson on someone’s roster during the regular season.

The defense was sharper than the offense though still imperfect. It was clear Gerald McCoy was missed as the defensive line struggled to generate consistent pressure on Blake Bortles. What was curious was Noah Spence’s absence in the first half.

The secondary continued to show progress from last year. Brent Grimes, Chris Conte, Johnthan Banks and Ryan Smith all made impressive plays on the ball. While the defense is still adjusting to the Mike Smith defense, the improvement in the pass game is obvious.

Now to the elephant in the room: Roberto Aguayo. Dirk Koetter can jaw about his kicker all he wants, but Jason Licht won’t let him be cut. The investment is too deep, too damning.

The whole idea of drafting a kicker in the second round is that he was supposed to come with a guarantee not to struggle like this. As I said last week, the Bucs heaped a whole load of unneeded pressure on a player whose position is 90 percent mental. Jason Licht stacked the odds against Aguayo to succeed, and it looks like his gamble is headed for a fiery conclusion.

Next week the Bucs face the Browns in a game where the starters typically get the most work before the regular season. The Bucs need to tighten up across the board and make plays instead of relying on the other team’s implosion.

The Filibuster: Preseason Week 1

After a brief hiatus, Bucs District is back online! We’re trying something a little new, reviewing each game in a series called “The Filibuster.” Basically I’m just going to dump all my thoughts from the game and you’re just going to sit there and take it (no, really, please stay).

The Bucs’ first preseason game of 2016 was illuminating, particularly for anyone expecting Tampa Bay to make a big leap this year. In fact, the Bucs started the game like they did many other games last season, with a major gaffe.

Kenny Bell probably cost himself the kick returner job with his game-opening fumble. Considering he has yet to record a reception in the NFL, Bell may not have a job period.

In a vintage performance, the defense came out shell-shocked after Bell’s fumble and allowed a quick Philadelphia touchdown. In a twist, the defense didn’t stay that way for the rest of the game. The rage of Robert Ayers is already demonstrating its effect on the rest of the line as it harassed the Eagles’ quarterbacks for most of the first half.

The biggest difference in the defense was a secondary that could actually cover. Philly’s quarterbacks completed only 50% of their passes, thanks in large part to tighter coverage from both the defensive backs and the linebackers.

Jameis Winston was a little uneven. Sure his line of 7 of 9 with one touchdown and fumble lost looks pretty good, but he was playing a little slow, holding the ball a little too long and not placing the ball in great spots. Nothing to panic over, but he’ll want to polish his game before the season the starts.

The wide receivers didn’t help their passers much. The game was rife with drops. Every backup wideout not named Russell Shepard needs to step up his game

And finally, the Aguayo miss. This is what the Bucs get for drafting a kicker in the second round. The real question isn’t whether Aguayo can make every kick; it’s whether he can handle the pressure of the expectations that come with his draft position. If you don’t think that pressure exists, just google his name and see how attention one missed PAT got.