Tampa has gotten off to slow starts so far this preseason, trailing at the end of the first quarter of both games. Blake Bortles mentioned that the Jaguars talk about ‘starting fast’ and this is something that the Bucs have failed to do in the past. The Lovie Smith era was plagued with bad starts that saw the team struggle to get back into games and lead to many losses.
Tampa last year had the 5th best rushing attack averaging 135.1 yards per game and if they can find a way to get the lead early they can use their tandem of Doug Martin and Charles Simms to their advantage and take the pressure off of Jameis Winston. Last Saturday against Jacksonville the Bucs ran 44 times for 158 yards showing they want to run and have the ability to be effective on the ground.
Tampa was able to come back and win against the Jags because they have a tested backup that has starting experience in Mike Glennon. He showed why he is a respected backup and why teams want to trade for him; Glennon completed 11 of 19 passes for 120 yards and a touchdown pass leading Tampa back from a deficit that Jacksonville had built. The backups for the Jags showed why they are not in the same discussion as Glennon as they combined to throw 4 interceptions and the only score for Jacksonville after the first quarter was a 79-yard interception return by Josh Johnson in the fourth quarter.
If there is going to be success in 2016 Tampa must find a way to score early and not find themselves in a hole early in the game. The starts so far have been uninspiring as they had turnovers that cost them points against the Eagles and Bortles looked very strong against the Tampa defense completing 8 of 11 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns. The third preseason game is one that sees first-string players staying in longer sometimes until the third quarter or maybe longer. Cleveland comes to town and Robert Griffin III had a solid game last week throwing two long touchdown passes for his new team. The Browns are considered one of the worst teams in the league so there will be the ability to have a strong start and hopefully start a trend for the rest of the season. To see a change in the direction of the franchise and to see wins and hopefully talk of a playoff run touchdowns need to be scored early and often to give this young team the best chance for success.