Bucs fall just short to Steelers in preseason

by Gary Shelton on August 10, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Winston gets advice from Arians./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

They call him the quarterback whisperer. But, really, it is the rest of us that Bruce Arians is whispering too.

“Hope,” he is whispering.

“Believe.”

“Have faith.”

Other coaches have spoken the same words in their own hushed terms. But there is a wisdom to Arians that makes you want to believe him. And, it should be said, that in his first game as coach of the Bucs, there were some reasons to think perhaps his era will be better than those who have come before him.

The Bucs, a flawed team still, lost their preseason opener to Pittsburgh on the road Friday night, falling 30-28 when Ryan

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Ryan Griffin threw for 330 yards./TIM WIRT

Griffin’s two-point conversion pass to Dare Ogumbowale was short and incomplete.

Yes, it should be said that the Steelers played without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but that mattered only for the one drive he might have been in.

Besides, the No. 1s from the Bucs — the thing that counts most in these exhibitions — outplayed Pittsburgh. Quarterback Jameis Winston — might he be getting the message?– hit five of

Winston was impressive on his drive./TIM WIRT

six passes for 40 yars and had a 134.0 quarterback rating. Running back Ronald Jones was good in his brief time, gained 18 yards on his four carries.

Oh, let’s face it. Arians has some whispering to do yet. His team committed 14 penalties for 112 yards. It allowed the Steelers to convert a third-and-21, a third-and-nine and a third-and-20. Three backup quarterbacks from the Steelers had ratings of at least 97.0. The short-yard running game should be better.

Clearly, there is work to be done.

But there were good signs, too. Winston seemed in control, and he guided the Bucs to an opening touchdown. Peyton Barber and Jones, together, averaged more than five yards a carry.  Rookie Matt Gay hit a 55-yard field goal. Griffin, trying to compete with Blaine Gabbert for the backup quarterback slot, threw for 317 yards. And the Bucs had 447 yards of offense.

So you should be hopeful, but not quite satisfied. It’s not a coming-close league. Arians will tell you that.

Still, it’s the preseason, the time of year you look for clues that hint your team might be better. And there did seem to be a little more to rely on than a season ago, when the secondary was lost and the running game was hopeless. Both were better, with being great, on Friday night.

For the Bucs, Spencer Schnell caught seven passes for 119 yards and Tanner Hudson seven for 84. Both players are in crowded positions, but each made an early statement they should at least be on the practice squad.

“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Arians said. ” never like losing. I wanted to win the game. I liked the fourth quarter comeback. There were a lot of good things. The overall penalties is the only thing i’m down on. Everything else was great.”

Arians admitted he didn’t want overtime, which may be a reason he started going for two-point conversions too soon. His team missed on three of them.

“I didn’t want to go to overtime,” he said. “I wanted to run that (last play) better. I wanted to execute it.”

Gabbart led a 75-yard drive that was stopped when the Bucs were stuffed on fourth-and-one.

The Bucs are home Friday night against the Miami Dolphins. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

 

 

 

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