Arians pleased as Bucs finish preseason by winning

by Gary Shelton on August 30, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Arians liked the way his team closed out the preseason./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

With most of the players who matter on the sideline, the temptation was to pay attention to the coaches.

And while you’re of a mind, why not give a game ball to Todd Bowles?

Bowles’ defense just carried the Bucs to a successful preseason, for whatever that’s worth. At minimum, we’d have to agree that winning is better than losing, and the Bucs won their last three preseason games in a row, allowing 15 points or fewer in all of them.

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If you remember last season’s defense, and you might have to see a therapist if you try, then you will remember a leaky secondary that put the defense on its heels all season. In fact, the Bucs have ranked 27th, 32nd and 23rd the last three seasons.

But with Bowles, there seems to be a more aggressive plan in place. Blitzers seem to get there. Cornerbacks seem to be in the picture. And, except for a 69-yard pass on a breakdown, the Bucs were good again on defense.

Consider:

— They had four sacks.

— They forced three turnovers.

— They didn’t give up a touchdown in either of Dallas’ trips into the red zone.

— They gave up just 2.1 yards per  rush.

Okay, okay. It’s the preseason, and no one can trust a preseason performance. But there has been a new energy to the Bucs’ defense so far. If it can translate to when the games are important, it will give the Bucs a chance.

Other observations from Friday night:

Even the subs make too many penalties around here. The Bucs committed 10 for 85 yards.

Ryan Griffin looks set as the backup. He hit nine of 11 passes for 92 yards. He did throw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown.

Matt Gay hit a 55-yard field goal to close out a competition all of us thought was over a while ago.

Bruce Anderson might have garnered enough attention to make the practice squad. He carried 20 times for 70 yards.

Scottie Miller got a late start to the preseason, but he had two catches Thursday night.

Vincent Testaverde, who just got here, hit four of eight passes for 41 yards.

“The biggest thing, we found ways to win,” Arians said.  “The first game, I kind of screwed that up, going for two early.  Had to kick for three extra points or we would have won them all but I like the way our team found ways to win.  It was a collective – in all three phases – special teams, defense and offense all worked together.  The ball gets batted, we throw a pick-six, we come back, we get a turnover, get a touchdown.  It’s been that way the whole preseason.  I just like the way we fed off each other.  

The first preseason under Arians? It held a little more promise going out than it did  coming in. Oh, there are things we don’t know. Jameis Winston didn’t play much, nor did Ronald Jones, nor did Mike Evans. The starting offensive line was horrible against Cleveland the last time we saw them. Devin White has some room to grow.

But Arians seems to have his team’s attention. That’s a start.

“I was pleased with the win,” Arians said. “I was pleased with the way our defense played. There were a couple of guys who earned spots on the team in that game.

 “I felt good about the whole group defensively. There were a couple of crossing routes where we jumped out of the way of people instead of staying plastered on our guy. They got turnovers. Big stops. It’s a silly  play to push a guy out of bounds. Just tackle him.”

Arians liked the play of his linebackers.

“That whole group, we just shut the run down,” Arians said. ” It was like 2nd and 11 and, boom, then we could get after the passer.  I thought the inside backers did a good job of disguising when they were coming and then getting in there, fast.  They showed their speed. “

On running back Anderson:

“Bruce had one of his best days,” Arians said. ” He’s been struggling with a little Achilles tendonitis.  Tonight, he was finally healthy and I really liked what I saw in him.”

On linebacker Jack Cichy.

I thought Jack had a heck of a game until he got the dumb penalty on the kickoff return.  And he knew it and came off and he just looked at me.  I said, “dumb.”  He’s a high-motor guy.  He’s going to be a good linebacker for us and a good special team player for us.

On Gay’s 55-yard field goal, Arians said that kick was supposed to go to Santos.

Arians said that Griffin’s second interception wasn’t his fault. His receivers lined up wrong and ran the wrong routes, he said.

But overall, he was pleased with the training camp.

“Penalties started disappearing,” Arians said. ” Mental errors started disappearing as we got into this one.  And even for these young guys, tonight, I know we had one-or-two glaring ones – that interception was one – but I thought they played pretty clean.  I didn’t see bonehead penalties, bonehead mistakes.  I thought they were up-to-speed, ready to roll.  We kept it simple so they could play fast.  We ran the same play about 30 times.  It was gaining yards.

The Bucs have until Saturday at 4 p.m. to trim their roster from 90 players to 53. They open their season Sept. 8 at home against San Francisco at 4:25 p.m.

 

 

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