Bucs lack of depth is exposed by Redskins

by Gary Shelton on September 1, 2016 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Bucs' quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for 190 yards in loss./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Bucs' quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for 190 yards in loss./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Thursday, 6 a.m.

Say this for the Tampa Bay Bucs.

They didn't exactly make Dirk Koetter's job harder, did they?

For most of Wednesday night's 20-13 loss to the Washington Redskins in the final preseason game for both, the rains of Hurricane Hermine seemed to wash away any pretense of depth that the Bucs' had. And after the game, the question was not so much who that Koetter should cut but who he should keep.

Koetter could take darts and throw them at his depth chart, and he could get away with cutting anyone who played Wednesday night. Except for his specialists, of course.

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Austin Seferian-Jenkins dressed as most other mainstays sat./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Austin Seferian-Jenkins dressed as most other mainstays sat./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

He was asked if anyone playing changed his mind Wednesday night. He made a better move than any of his backs did all night.

“It's hard for me to get that from the game because of being at field level and everything,” Koetter said. “That's going to take some looking at the film. I just talked briefly to Jason (Licht, the general manager) and his opinion watching it from the box.”

A third quarterback? How about a second quarterback? Mike Glennon, often touted as one of the premier backups in the NFL, hit only one of his five passes for minus one yard. Ryan Griffin sputtered at the start, although a 156-yard second half salvaged his night somewhat.

Aguayo should be smiling after making his last eight kicks./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Aguayo should be smiling after making his last eight kicks./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

A running back behind Doug Martin and Charles Sims? He was hard to see, too. Peyton Barber averaged only 2.8 yards per carry. His backup, Russell Hansbrough, averaged 0.4 yards per carry.

A fourth receiver? The Bucs dropped several balls. Freddie Martino caught six for 65 yards, which is sure to delight the campus of North Greenville University. Kenny Bell, one of the key players in the competition, suffered a concussion. Bernard Reedy caught a touchdown pass with 57 seconds to play.

“Tonight was tough,” Koetter said. “We dropped way too many balls.”

The defensive depth? There were far too many missed tackles, especially on the 60-yard run by Mack Brown (from Florida).

Perhaps this should have been anticipated. When a team changes head coaches so often, it's hard to build starters, let alone depth. The Bucs played without 25 of their major players; the Redskins 26. And it showed. I'm not sure that any player who was on the borderline made this team Wednesday night.

In fact, if I was Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht, I might scour the upcoming cutdowns. Maybe I could find a receiver there. Maybe a running back. Maybe a defensive end.

This, then, is what the Bucs look like without Jameis Winston and Mike Evans and Doug Martin and Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander and Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves and Robert Ayers and all the other players who sat out Wednesday for fear they might drown.

Kenny Bell was competing for a receiver slot but suffered a concussion./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Kenny Bell was competing for a receiver slot but suffered a concussion./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

So, yeah. The bottom of the Redskins roster was much better than the bottom of the Bucs roster. Big whoop. So the car salesmen in Washington will be more skilled than the car salesmen in Tampa.

What did we learn about the Bucs? Other than missed tackles and dropped passes are bad things?

One: We learned that Glennon is not the safety net that some people think he is. Hey, I like Glennon, too. But he's won five games in his three seasons in the NFL. I think that if he really was this solid starter in waiting that someone would have knocked on the Bucs' door. Maybe with Minnesota and Dallas having injuries at quarterback, they will yet. But I let him go for anything from the fourth round or better.

Two: We learned that the Bucs' depth at receiver is fiction. Granted, you find a lot of ordinary among the NFL's fourth receivers. But if Jameis is going to blossom, he could use another pair of hands on this team.

Three: Johnthan Banks might not be out of this thing yet.

“I did what I had to do,” Banks said. “I came out and had fun and played the game. Every game, I made plays, so I don't think this one is going to boost my standing on where I am on the team.”

Four: What we did not learn is if the decision might not be final on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins: The Bucs sat out a lot of players, including running back Mike James and linebacker Devante Bond. But they played Seferian-Jenkins. Isn't that a hint that there is more proving to be done by Seferian-Jenkins? And with his sideline outburst, isn't that a bigger hint?

“We have got to remember: Players play and coaches coach,” Koetter said.

Five: Second-round pick Noah Spence has some work to do. Spence had only two tackles Wednesday night. He has shown flash as a speed rusher, but he hasn't done a lot else.

Six: Do you remember the angst over Robert Aguayo? He's made all eight of his kicks the last two weeks. Yeah, he'll miss another one or two before he's through. But there are bigger areas of concern.

Seven: Will the lack of depth catch up to the Bucs? Yeah, it might. This is a game of attrition, after all. Depth always plays a role in a season. Maybe it'll be a defensive end. Maybe it'll be a receiver. Until then, hope this team stays healthy.

Either way, if I'm the Bucs, I signal for a time-out right about now. I could use another week or two to get ready before the league begins play.

The best thing? For now, the Bucs are pretty much healthy. They'll travel to Atlanta for their opener with Atlanta. And Winston and McCoy and David and the rest won't be held out of that one.

A reminder, though. When the NFL  talks about the Bucs “getting to the 53 man roster,” someone needs to remind Koetter that he has to keep that many. Okay?

Peyton Barber had a tough night, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry for Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Peyton Barber had a tough night, averaging only 2.8 yards per carry for Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill MYERS September 2, 2016 at 9:04 am

The Bucs really need to find some better backups! The strategy of looking at the other teams discards might pay off! If they fail to upgrade here ,”next man up” may just come back to bite them in the butt!

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Richard September 1, 2016 at 8:39 am

Another great article. Have to disagree with Gleanon a bit. How is he supposed to look good throwing to these WRs who cant catch a cold? Put Gleanon in with the 1st string after he get his timing with them and he will look better. I was not impressed at all with the backup O-line either. No running lanes, and shaky pass protection. As you said we have no depth on this team.

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