The Buccaneers first-team offense and defense held their own and did not disappoint for the home crowd Monday night. But much like last week, once the depth came in, it was a different ball game.
Here is a recap from TBC’s “What to watch for” from their matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rookie guard Ali Marpet has gotten some extended looks in practice with the team’s starting offensive line. He has also done well for himself handling All-Pro defensive tackle Gerald McCoy in training camp with little struggle. But the Bengals have a stud at defensive tackle too in Geno Atkins. It’s good that Marpet practices against McCoy daily, but facing a guy like Atkins — if he gets such an opportunity — will come a long way in learning at the pro level.
OUTCOME: Marpet had a decent game. He had good push up front, allowing for Winston to have time in the pocket for the majority of the evening. In the run game, Doug Martin’s big run was due in part by his own ability, but Marpet stayed with his man to allow for one less defender to get after Martin. But he was beat on the play where Winston hurt his ankle. Overall, Marpet gets. And if he didn’t earn another start after this game then I am not sure what the staff is looking at.
Where’s the rush?
It’s only preseason. But the lack of pressure the Bucs’ starting front displayed last week is concerning. Head coach Lovie Smith has decided to take over the play-calling duties for his defense so whether that makes a difference or not remains to be seen. However, something has to give. The Vikings offense pretty much had their way with the Buccaneers and that did not go over well with the staff. Even general manager Jason Licht voiced his concerns last week during practice as the Bucs running game was impressive against the defensive front. McCoy needs to show better push and split double teams. The Bengals actually gameplanned for him for this week so it has a tough task Monday night. Clinton McDonald needs to eat up space and the ends (who rotate) need to unleash the speed they are relied upon to utilize.
OUTCOME: Well, the pass rush was alive and well at Raymond James Stadium. Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton hit the turf three times and was hit three other times. Dalton looked shaky all evening and finished with 46 yards on six completions. Defensive end George Johnson made Dalton’s night horrible with a sack and two hits.
Veteran Louis Murphy was the only consistent pass catcher at Minnesota. Receivers had problems with routes at times and on a couple instances it appeared Mike Evans didn’t make an effort to put a hand on a ball — especially on the interception thrown by Jameis Winston. Lovie Smith shared thought the same in his day after game press conference. But Winston and his receivers need to get into a rhythm. While they seem to be OK during practice, they need to look comfortable with one another during games. The Bengals will present a good test for that.
OUTCOME: Mike Evans left the game early with a hamstring injury, but Winston did a good job spreading the ball around. So while the the starters didn’t do much, the rookie signal caller made it a point to get as many people involved as possible. Russell Shepard had the team’s catch of the night with a 22-yard catch and run after a laser throw by Winston.
As we pointed out last week, rookie linebacker Kwon Alexander was one to watch against the Vikings. Because of his play and intensity in practice, he bumped linebacker Bruce Carter out of the middle linebacker spot and was named the starter. Now, Carter finds himself battling for a starting role with Danny Lansanah at strongside linebacker. The play between Lansanah and Carter will be intriguing to follow.
OUTCOME: Lansanah had a strong showing tonight. And while Carter was mentioned a couple times (at best?), it was Lansanah who made the splash play by giving the Bucs two points after tackling Bengals’ running back Cedric Peerman in his own end zone.