Bucs’ backups battered in preseason game

by Gary Shelton on August 22, 2021

in general

Howard had a pair of early dropped passes./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

First things first: The sky is not falling.

Huge chasms have not appeared in the field at Raymond James Stadium. Lovie Smith has not returned as a head coach. No one is talking about who to take as the No. 1 draft choice.

On the other hand, yuck.

There wasn't much to like about the Bucs' 34-3 flop against Tennessee Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, even if it was played by the backups.

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Look, this is the preseason. Everyone knows that. It's okay if a team isn't doing well. But it isn't okay if a team isn't playing well. And so far, the Bucs have little wavy stink lines coming off of them.

Yeah, yeah. The play is being done by backups. On the other hand, the Tennessee Titans played their backups, and they mopped up the joint with the Bucs Saturday night. Which means that either the Bucs' reserves aren't anywhere as good as advertised, or this team has a lot of improving to do.

Maybe both.

Again, you can temper your disappointment. If the Bucs had won 77-0, it wouldn't have meant anything either. But it's always preferable to play well than to play poorly.


-- Rookie quarterback Kyle Trask threw two interceptions and had a rating of 32.7.

"It’s a learning experience," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "Kyle's got a long time to grow."

-- Second-year running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn averaged two yards per carry. As a team, the Bucs had just 17 yards on the ground.

"We threw the ball in this game because we ran it so much during the week," Arians said."I wanted to evaluate quarterbacks and the offensive line in the passing game more than in the running game. There wasn't much emphasis on the run."

-- The Titans' backup quarterbacks hit 19 of 24 passes and had a rating of 139.4.

-- The Bucs were two of 14 on third down and zero-for-two on fourth down, which speaks to their inefficiency.

-- The Bucs fumbled six times (they lost only one).

-- They dropped passes and missed tackles. Tight end O.J. Howard dropped passes on the Bucs' first two drives.

"I was very disappointed in the start again," Arians said. "Too many dropped passes. Again, if it was Mike (Evans) or Chris (Godwin) or Antonio (Brown), I'd be worried. O.J. has a lot of rust to shake off."

Arians wasn't totally displeased, however. He said defensive end Pat O'Connor had made the team with his play, and inside linebacker Grant Stuard (six tackles) might have. He again praised Joe Tryon-Shoyinka.

"Some players played well," Arians said. "You couldn't tell it by looking at the scoreboard but I'm not looking at the scoreboard. I'm looking at individuals."

Arians said his starters will go a half in next week's preseason game at Houston (Saturday, 8 p.m.)

"We can't go against Dallas without our players having some game-speed," he said.

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