A week removed from a dynamic opening drive by the starters, this time around the excitement couldn’t be replicated. In what was an ugly day weather wise in Tampa, the field was soaked and the rain left more of a mark on this one than the play on the field. That said, the starters on both sides showed positive sides on their respective drives.
Some late game action gave fans who braved the weather and stayed for the end of the roster guys something to cheer about as Ryan Griffin gave the team a 4th quarter lead. Once the lead was given to the Dolphins, Griffin drove down the field once more with seconds left in the game. Tanner Hudson did more than his part in helping the team come back late. Hudson scored the team’s lone touchdown and had a big first down catch with 10 seconds to go in the 4th. Matt Gay sent the team back to the locker room with a game winning field goal.
On offense, Jameis Winston took the offense onto the field after Ronald Jones slipped a bit prior to receiving the opening kickoff. Winston looked to struggle with footing and grip just a bit as he sailed his first pass attempt over the head of Mike Evans on a short out route. Jameis bounced back nicely with a quick play action pass to O.J. Howard and hit ole reliable Cameron Brate on the play after that. Given the conditions of the field and the brief single series the first team saw, it was good enough to get into field goal range before Winston was forced to take a sack and end the drive.
Barber didn’t get much going on the ground in his couple attempts as one may expect with the poor field conditions. That said, Ronald Jones managed to take his first carry right up the gut behind some solid blocking, utilizing some quick shifty feet to gain 10. Jones did have a mishap however, as he missed picking up an untouched defender. No fear tho, Jameis saved the day by staying on his feet, scrambling about and making some first down magic happen with his legs. The battle for the third back on this team certainly began to take a turn in favor of Dare Ogunbowale. Andre Ellington got the first crack out of the two but fumbled on his 3rd touch on the 2nd drive of the game for the offense. Dare then came out the next drive, starting on the teams 2 yard line and took it 10 yards for a 1st down. Dare added a huge 41 yard reception to his game resume as well in this one. Play wise, there’s little reason to believe Ellington is the better 3rd back option aside from being a veteran.
The receiving core had very little work seeing only one series for the starters. Tanner Hudson, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate all got some work in out of the tight end slots in what is looking like arguably the deepest positional group on the team. One thing is for sure, making this roster as a tight end save the top two spots… will be tough. Making this team as a 4th+ receiver this season, will be tough. It’s a good problem to have for Bruce Arians and company.
The offensive line was not as clean looking as they were a week prior when it comes to the starters. Donovan Smith was beat quite cleanly on Winston’s sack and the right side had some struggles as well. Alex Cappa again saw some extended work and seems to be looking quite comfortable at his current home on the line.
The defense looked improved but those words should be taken with a grain of salt. The Dolphins are arguably the worst football team in the NFL. That fact can’t be overlooked when grading out how the first and second team defenses did in this football game.
Noah Spence appeared to have a shot at a sack early on in this ball game and if the field conditions were better… probably would have sealed the deal on that one. Vernon Hargreaves III got the start opposite Carlton Davis and again looked to be playing with some confidence. Jordan Whitehead and Kentrell Brice were the safety starters, rounding out the defensive backfield.
Week three is right around the corner and for many Buccaneer fans, that’s the true proving grounds for both sides of the football. It’s hard to argue against that at this point with the starters having seen a total of two series to this point.
It’s tough to give a true reaction to this game that reflects the on field performance. The truth is, this game wasn’t as clean as either team would have liked it but this was a victory, the first of the pre-season for this squad. Matt Gay connected on a game winner and he’s looking more and more like the real deal on special teams. For the second week in a row, Ronald Jones looked like a dynamic running back. On the flip side, it was the second straight week where Jones whiffed on a defender en route to Jameis Winston. The next 10-14 will be very interesting for this football team.