Welp. That was…something. In what was one of the pre-seasonest of pre-season games this year, the Buccaneers dropped an ugly affair to the Tennessee Titans 13-3. It was certainly a game where nothing went right on offense and what’s worse, the Bucs’ offensive line suffered yet another significant injury.
What I Liked
The Bucs at least got some solid play from their defensive unit, holding the Titans to just 255 yds of total offense, 20% on third down, forcing an interception, sacking them 4 times, and limiting the Titans to just 13 points.
For the second week in a row, UDFA rookie linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi made an impact, leading Tampa Bay with nine tackers and adding 1.5 sacks. Special Teams is where Fatukasi will likely make this roster, and he’s yet to make a significant play there – but the Buccaneers may be seeing someone who can credibly back up Lavonte David and Devin White.
Ryan Succop seems to have grabbed a stranglehold of the kicking job. Succop proved he can still make them from downtown by drilling a 52-yarder for Tampa Bay’s only points of the game.
Some were saying that the Buccaneers chose the wrong punter by selecting Jake Camarda over the “Punt God” Matt Araiza. Camarda answered his critics in this one, dominating with a 50.4 yd average on seven punts, including a long of 65.
UDFA corner Don Gardner making an acrobatic interception in consecutive weeks. At least this one counted.
What I Didn’t
Guard Luke Goedeke getting called for holding twice and surrendering a sack.
The poor coverage of the units on special teams. Guys, this is where you make the team – or solidify yourself as camp meat. Camarda boomed punts, but the coverage was so bad his net ended up being a pitiful 33.4. Come on!
Toss a Doubloon to Your Pirate
Okay, last week we talked a little bit about how Trask looked like he had grown and was finally showing some NFL starter capability. Against a very physical and solid Tennesse Titans defense, the inconsistency of Trask began to show.
Trask struggled throughout the ballgame in leading his football team to sustain drives. Yes, he was certainly victimized by his wide receivers dropping balls, but he also was slow in processing, held the football too long, and seemed to have little zip on his throws to the sideline. He had one pick where his arm was hit because he was throwing late, but he also had another pass that hit a Titan defender in the bread basket and was dropped.
Trask’s best throws of the night were to the end zone that Kaylon Geiger dropped (Geiger let a deep ball get away from him, too, plus fumbled, more on that in a moment) and a bomb to Scotty Miller, who let it slip through his fingers.
Trask’s protection did struggle a bit with the Tennessee front, but he did them no favors by taking way too long to process things and get the football out. He also had the football slapped from his hands multiple times in the game three times total that allowed the Titans to rack up three of their four sacks.
Two Buccaneers Shine
Last week, it was hard to figure out which of the young receivers were going to make this 53 as each of them continued to make play after play. This week, it might be a little easier. Only Tyler Johnson and Deven Thompkins were able to build on their performances last week, each catching some big throws in heavy traffic. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Geiger, Scotty Miller, and Jalen Darden failed to impress.
Geiger, in fact, may have done the most damage to his prospects, dropping two catchable balls that would have potentially put points on the board and fumbling one of the two balls he actually caught. He was lucky it wasn’t a turnover as a Titans player was out of bounds before recovering the ball, having it revert back to Tampa Bay.
I’m not going to bang on Jerreth Sterns because Trask nearly got him killed twice. He finished with two catches for just 13 yds.
It was quite a disappointing performance for guys with so much on the line.
Defensively, it was good to see some of the starters flying around out there, in particular Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, who certainly made his presence felt in the few series he played. The Bucs are counting on big things from Tryon-Shoyinka, and in limited action he finished with three tackles and two tackles for loss (one on Titans quarterback Malik Willis which arguably could have been ruled a sack as he ran away from the line of scrimmage on an RPO). Overall, two games are in the books and while most of the starters haven’t played, the Bucs’ depth on defense seems really solid.
Rachaad White is in no danger of losing his roster spot. He has shown his outstanding skill with some spectacular runs and his skill as a receiver in the open field is fun to watch. His first kick return of the season looked very promising. With that said, he’s played two games and now has fumbled in each. As Jerry Glanville once said, the N.F.L. stands for Not For Long if you keep coughing up the football. Here’s hoping White takes some extra reps in the strip drill in the coming weeks.
While White is getting all the publicity, it’s Keshaun Vaughn who has put his hard hat on and showed some determined running. Vaughn leads all Tampa Bay rushers in the pre-season with 73 yds rushing and has the team’s longest run of the pre-season, 18 yds (although both Kenjon Barner and Rachaad White had some big gallops called back via penalty).
The Brady Factor
Yes, I wasn’t going to leave this week’s Doubloons without discussing Tom Brady. No, he’s not off filming The Masked Singer. That was the type of utter nonsense floating about this week. I will say that when Bucs’ head coach Todd Bowles flubbed and said the Bucs had no idea when Brady was coming back, warning bells, and frankly, panic exploded all over Tampa Bay.
If this preseason has shown us anything it’s that without Tom Brady, this team is not as special. With Brady, the Buccaneers can compete for the Super Bowl. Without him, the Buccaneers are a borderline playoff team that could be flirting with .500. That’s how important he is to this Tampa Bay’s fortunes in 2022.
I don’t think any Buccaneers’ fans will have the warm fuzzies about the Bucs’ prospects until Brady returns from his sabbatical. Let’s hope it’s this week or we’ll all be looking for the bottle of Pepto Bismol.
Tweet of the Game
This hasn’t been pretty for Bucs, especially on offense, but if you remember last year in preseason vs. Titans in Tampa, that was a 34-3 loss …
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) August 21, 2022
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