5 Things To Watch In Tonight’s Game

August 26th, 2017

Yes, some key Tampa bay Buccaneers won’t play against the bumbling Browns tonight. Don’t expect to Gerald McCoy, Brent Grimes, Kwon Alexander and Mike Evans, who are all nursing various physical issues, some of which are more serious than others. 

But there is plenty to scrutinize and here’s where Joe’s eyes will be firmly focused:

Sorry, dreamers and rampant optimists, but the Bucs don’t have a special pass rush. Sure, they were ninth in the NFL in sacks last season, but the defensive line was very inconsistent in its rush and a lot of the sacks came as a result of blitzes. Joe wants to see real improvement, especially with 21-year-old rookie DeShone Kizer starting at quarterback for the Browns. Noah Spence was invisible against the Jaguars, and Spence told Joe he got a grade of “C” from coaches in the preseason opener at Cincinnati. Joe wants to see Spence stop up. Robert Ayers has been rushing a lot inside in practice, but Joe suspects he’ll get more edge work tonight. Also, Clinton McDonald is sure to slide over to replace McCoy at the 3-technique. Joe’s interested to see how disruptive McDonald can be and if he draws double teams. Chris Baker? Joe is always watching and waiting for Baker to look dangerous.

Take 2, Ali! Joe continues to applaud the success of starting center Ali Marpet against the Jaguars. It was Marpet’s first time playing center in a game — ever.  Simple as that. He was awesome. Joe wants to see if Marpet can establish consistency, which might be the greatest challenge at a new position.

The whole position battle thing often feels to Joe like goofy nonsense concocted by writers lacking creativity, but it’s very real and unique at cornerback. Joe has harped on second-year man Ryan Smith quite a bit. The Bucs like the kid and think he can serve as the backup outside corner. Smith, though, has been wildly inconsistent through training camp. He was better against the Jaguars last week but Smith still needs to show he’s worthy of that No. 1 backup role, which often is critical. It’s a huge game for him tonight. If Smith struggles, then Joe suspects Tampa Bay will look to the waiver wire in the coming days to find cornerback help. That doesn’t mean they’ll cut Smith, only that the urgency at corner will rise. Also, it might help third-year man and former Titans CB Cody Riggs make the roster. Joe will be looking for him more tonight, as well.

Celebrating a throwaway. Simply stated, Joe wants to see America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, willing to give up on third down when appropriate. It’s a true art form mastered by great quarterbacks. And that includes running for six yards when it’s 3rd-and-11. Joe wants Jameis to be Jameis, but evidence that his crisis decision-making is evolving would be a great thing.

Chris Godwin should have lots of work coming his way tonight. Joe just wants to watch the rookie receiver work and dream of what this 2017 offense might look like if Godwin really is special like Dirk Koetter says he is. The better Godwin plays, the more likely it is that the Bucs turn into a pass-first team, like Dirk Koetter’s Falcons offense was in 2012.

16 Responses to “5 Things To Watch In Tonight’s Game”

  1. Jdr Says:

    6th thing to watch #49

  2. Casual Observer Says:

    The pass rush needs work, I agree. Time to show it.

  3. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Cleveland played well last week, it should be a good game, but the Mayweather McGregor fight is also on tonight.
    Decisions, decisions …

  4. Fsuking Says:

    Why is Joe being so hard on Noah Spence? Situational pass rushers DO NOT usually show up in the preseason. Plus, this guy has shown his teammates enough for them to predict multiple 10 sack seasons out of him. He had flash plays throughout training camp, but Joe remains unimpressed?
    First, the players’ predictions don’t matter much to Joe. No knock on them, but they’re extremely biased. Second, the Bucs organization wants him to be more than a situational pass rusher. Joe’s just looking at the performance; Spence hasn’t done much this summer. Joe has to go off what’s been visible. –Joe

  5. Fsuking Says:

    Also why would Jameis run for 6 yards on 3rd and 11? No coach would teach that it’s nonsense unless you are in good fg range. Jameis’s health is worth roughly 5,000 yards more than that
    There are loads of opportunities for QBs to run safely when there is no safe pass option. C’mon. You know that. And of course, field goal range is an issue, as is field position.–Joe

  6. Jeagan1999 Says:

    JAmeis has already established a rapport with Evans and Brate, but with every game, I look forward to seeing him continue to build that same rhythm with D-Jax, OJ and Godwin.

  7. Lamarcus Says:

    The last great dt performance I’ve seen was from McDonald vs broncos last year. Played his heart out. McDonald should be a starter. He will do just fine

    Yes agree Joe. No more rookie plays from Winston.

  8. JAB83 Says:

    I will take a 6 yard run to nowhere vs a 50/50 ball with the lead. But if we are down a score or two. I’m betting JW will take the 50/50 ball every time. AND I AM OK WITH THAT.

    Nothing is worst than watching your team milk the clock for the other team…. SUCH A DRAG.

    If your gonna punt…. Throw a pick 50 yards down field… Its the new Punt and our boy MR. WinSome is going to establish this play going forward….

    Even if you have the lead…. Throw that thing as far as you can and call it something like… The Pre-Punt Punk Play…

    The trick here is you have to have a couple guys following up the play to make sure IF it is intercepted the guy is taken down. This would not be a hard play to drawl up and execute.

    Just don’t make plays that take points off the board. THATS THE KEY HERE..

    Should and amazing career to watch… Bret Farve Arron Rogers and Doug Williams all wrapped up into one….

  9. Wombat Says:

    I could care less what Spence does preseason, just as long as he stays healthy. If he plays a year without getting hurt, he will get 10 sacks. He has developed an amazing inside rush, stays low and with a healthy line he should dominate. He played half the season with one arm, and was visibly hurting in most games. I take a lot from what the players say, and Simeon just gushed about his skill set. We don’t know what the coaches are asking him to do preseason? He may be working on his run stopping responsibilities… I think there will be times in the season when he will be asked to go get the QB. It’s not like it happens every play. If he gets 2 sacks a game, we will have the best DE in all of NFL history. Sacks are not the only stat that matters….

  10. Tnew Says:

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Much like some still pine for Cook over Howard still. I still hear people complain about MM over Winston on here. I thought I might’ve been biased towards Spence so I started digging. Spence has consistently been a top 5 performer by sites that do such rankings for day to day training camp assessments. At least two occasions he was the daily MVP of camp. I saw Smith get the better of Spence but I saw Spence beat Smith only to pull up way early. I charted every play of his during the Jag game. He was chipped on the majority of his plays in the first half and still forced the qb up into the pocket. A couple of times he was beaten by the double, one time the rb got him really good. But having two players account for one is a win. In the second half, he was rotating out on passing downs. He was being used solely on run downs. He didn’t look like Gholston but he wasn’t getting blown away either.

    This is what to remember. Spence will shine

  11. Tnew Says:

    Late in games when the Bucs have a lead. This won’t happen until the regular season.

  12. Tnew Says:

    Last thing. Challenge anyone to go back then the preseason and end of last year. The LBs were consistently getting sacks blitzing through the hole Spence created with his rush from the wide 9 Position

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    I cannot recall a Bucs season ever where the 3rd PS game wasn’t a critical event.

    This game is not.

    It’s clear health is a huge concern for the coaching staff, as well as getting some subs a lot of experience under fire.

    I’d be surprised if the starters play very long.

  14. darin Says:

    Ryan smith will have an up n down year if he makes it. He is a first year nfl corner, mid round pick. Look no further than hargreaves last year. High 1st rounder who got abused alot. Takes them a bit to get goin. Lets just hope for improvement as the season goes along. And really hope for no injuries. Now if we can get that pass rush going like u said….ole ryan will play much better. Go Bucs

  15. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “Sorry, dreamers and rampant optimists, but the Bucs don’t have a special pass rush.”

    I think it is way to soon to say that. Might be right, but may not be.

    Totally agree with the rest.

  16. Capt.Tim Says:

    Any word on Caleb Benenoch?
    Will he play tonight?
    Havent heard anything since his injury was mentioned here.

    Got my fingers crossed for Ryan Smith. 6′ Tall CBs are awful handy- especially with all the 6’5″ receivers in the NFC south.

    Looking foward to seeing more of Beckwith, Godwin, Howard, Bullough, and Antony Auclair.

    Wish all these young guys good luck. They all have an awful lot riding on this game.

    First time in a looong time, that this game wasnt critical for one or more positions! Just wanna beat some Browns butt- and mainly get out of it healthy