Bucs show good, bad against Jacksonville

by Gary Shelton on August 21, 2016 · 0 comments

in general

Winston missed his first six passes Saturday night/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Winston missed his first six passes Saturday night/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Sunday, 5:30 a.m.

Are you a worrier?

Do you notice the dark clouds in the sky? Do you see the problems? Do you note that the regular season is rushing toward the Tampa Bay Bucs like a runaway train?

Are you nervous because the starting quarterback was shaky? Are you sweating because the high-priced kicker has a wobbly toe? Are you talking to yourself because of the offensive line?

Or are you a believer?

Do you notice the better play from the defense and think it

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will last? Do you think the receivers will sort themselves out? Were you happy that the turnovers and the penalties were much better?

Do you see sunshine and rainbows? Do you see daylight? Do you think everything's going to be okay?

Either way, the Tampa Bay Bucs had something for you on Saturday night when they beat the Jacksonville Jags 27-21.

There were worrisome moments. Jameis Winston started off by missing his first six passes. Roberto Aguayo – and it may be mentioned a time or 400 this week that he was a second-round draft pick — missed a 32-yard field goal.

“I would not say worried, but this is the NFL, man," said Koetter.. "They are paid to make kicks. He knows it, and I know it, everybody knows it. I mean, it is what it is.”

There were keeper moments. Vernon Hargreaves intercepted two passes.The defense held Jacksonville to two offensive touchdowns. Mike Glennon played well.

So what do you believe? We all know better than to trust preseason results. This time, however, the play itself was up and down. There was good. There was bad. Every now and then, there was ugly.

The thing is, the Bucs are one of the teams in the NFL that needs to use this preseason to convince the fans — and the players — that this year will better. Let's face it. It doesn't really matter what New England does it the preseason. Or Denver. Or Seattle.

But in the geography that isn't used to winning, fans want to see something. No, not winning. But they need to see a sharp Winston, a rugged offensive line. They need to see rampaging defensive linemen and a fierce pass rush. They need to see Aguayo nailing field goals like a weapon. They need to see a team that looks fast and crisp.

After two weeks, the concern is that you haven't seen enough of it. Yeah, yeah. The Bucs have played a lot of players. But so has the other team. Yeah, there are reasons. But the Bucs have started slowly twice.

“I would not make any judgments on two preseason games where you are playing a ton of guys and you are not really game-planning too much," Koetter said. " I mean, we would like to start better absolutely and it is going to be hard to ever beat the slow start that we had last week, but let’s not confuse that with tonight."

Still, does playing a lot of players have anything at all to do with slow starts? All those players haven't played yet.

So far, have you seen any convincing evidence that this team will be significantly better than the six-win bunch of a year ago? No, you haven't. You've seen flashes of good, and repeats of bad. You've seen a team that looks as it is feeling its way in a darkened room.

“I do not think you want to go 0-4 and we are not going to do that," Koetter said. "So you are playing your ones more as you go along and preseason is weird. You are trying to get ready, but let’s face it, bottom line, we want to be healthy on September 11 for Atlanta. We held out three really good players tonight and Jacksonville held out some guys as well and getting out of these games healthy and still getting your work in is the most important thing.

Maybe this is the week. Maybe Winston shows up sharp and Aguayo shows up deadly. Maybe the receivers finally look like threats. Maybe the running game breaks a long one or two. Maybe the pass rush the team showed against the Eagles and the coverage you saw against the Jags come together.

This is always the hope of a bad team in the preseason. Fans search for a clue, for the twitch of a toe, for the energy of a newcomer, to show that things are different.

Maybe they still will.

Maybe not.

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