The Preseason Home Opener Against The Cleveland Browns Didn’t Go As Planned, As The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fall To The Cleveland Browns 13-9
Preseason week 3 is usually the last rehearsal before the regular season. With starters expected to play through the first half, it is the first true look at a team with high expectations leading into the 2017 season.
Roughly half of the usual suspects did not dress for the game. Both sides of the ball were affected, as four offensive starters (DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans, Kevin Pamphile and Demar Dotson) and four defensive starters (Brent Grimes, Kwon Alexander, William Gholston and Gerald McCoy) gave way to players fighting for back up and roster spots.
- Special teams were a bright spot tonight. Nick Folk went 3-3 on his field goal attempts connecting from 31, 42 and 43 yards. Bryan Anger was also on top of his game, pinning the Browns inside the 20 on all seven of his punts while averaging over 40 yards a punt. (40.4)
- The Buccaneers elected to start Jacquizz Rodgers, much like they will have to do in the first three weeks of the season, due to Doug Martin‘s suspension. In fact, Martin didn’t even make an appearance in the first quarter. Although his stats didn’t necessarily back him up, Rodgers appeared ready for the role, looking patient and following his blockers. Rodgers finished the day with 34 yards on 10 carries, and added a catch for 17 yards. Does a solid three weeks give him the starting nod over Doug Martin when he comes off of his suspension?
- Chris Godwin had a chance to prove what he can do with both Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson taking the day off. Godwin made the best of it, hauling in 4 balls for 56 yards. That should go a long way in the battle for the team’s’ 4th and 5th receivers. Until more is known about Adam Humphries, who suffered a hip injury Saturday, there could even be a shot at the slot position.
- The starting offense appeared a little reserved in the first half, although that is to be expected. No reason to show your hand before the season starts right?
- Although the starting defense only gave up three first half points, the secondary left much to be desired. Corey Coleman had 3 catches for 56 yards in the first half, even with rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer behind center. Kizer made some good throws, but was a bit wild at times. He only had 93 yards passing in the first half, but that was more on erratic throws than great defense.
- The Buccaneers defensive line looked to be in midseason form, chasing around Cleveland Browns quarterbacks all night long. They finished the night with two sacks, but had Browns’ QBs running all game long.
- It should be concerning that the Buccaneers failed to score a touchdown, but Jameis without his top two offensive weapon is very much to blame. Adam Humphries and his hip injury didn’t help matters either. would have been nice to see OJ Howard a little more involved, as he finished with just two catches for 15 yards.
Cleveland won the coin toss, deferring, and ultimately resulting in the Buccaneers offense to start things off. The offense started out hot driving the ball down to the Cleveland 27 before stalling and lining up for a field goal. Jameis and company were gifted a second chance at the end zone however when Jamie Collins Sr. jumped offsides on 4th and 4. Three plays later, promising rookie safety Jabrill Peppers jumped all over a Jameis Winston pass at the goal line and returned it 23 yards.
On the ensuing drive, the Browns decided to let rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer run the offense. Browns second year receiver Corey Coleman took advantage of Chris Conte for a 32 yard gain. The Bucs defense pulled together, halting the Browns drive at the start of the red zone, and held the Browns to a 38 yard field goal off the foot of Cody Parkey.
The Buccaneers offense took a knee on the ensuing kickoff, and looked to be heating up, finding their way into Cleveland territory in just two plays. The drive fizzled out there, however, and the Buccaneers were forced to punt. The punt went exactly as it was planned out, and the Buccaneers were able to pin the Browns on their own one yard line.
Cleveland being backed up deep in their own zone looked to pick up where they left off, and Kizer seemed to find a favorite receiver in Corey Coleman. on 3rd and 5 from the 31 yard line, Coleman was cited with an offensive pass interference call (questionable at best) which caused a third and long. On the ensuing pass, Lavonte David stuck his paw up and batted the ball into the air, which allowed Vernon Hargreaves III to secure the interception.
After a quick three and out by the Buccaneers offense, the Browns got their running game into gear with a few nice runs by Isaiah Crowell and a long 37 yard pickup by Duke Johnson. The Browns appeared to moving the ball yet again until a Duke Johnson fumble on the Tampa Bay 10 yard line abruptly ended another promising Cleveland drive.
After both teams exchanged two punts a piece, Winston and company got the ball back on their own 34. The two-minute drill seemed to spark the offense, and the Buccaneers looked to have a good concept on clock management in route to stalling at the Cleveland 13 yard line, and settling for a 31 yard Nick Folk field goal to close out the first half.
Cleveland received the second half kickoff and went with a personnel change, putting Cody Kessler behind center. The Browns once again seemed to be moving the ball until Noah Spence stepped up and sacked Kessler on 3rd down, forcing the Browns and their second kicker of the night, Zane Gonzalez into a long field goal situation. The Browns were unable to take the lead, as the 55 yard attempt was wide left.
Jameis Winston stayed in the game for the first drive of the second half, but Rodgers day was done to start the second half. Winston was able to drive the Buccaneers offense into field goal territory, where Nick Folk connected on his second field goal of the day, this one from 42 yards away, to give the Buccaneers a 6-3 lead. Besides Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over for Winston on the ensuing drive, the action was pretty limited to close out the third quarter.
With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, the Buccaneers were able to muster another field goal, although mostly thanks to good field position and a penalty. It was again Nick Folk who hit a 43 yarder, his third of the night. The Browns and new quarterback Kevin Hogan would answer right back however, with a successful 47 yarder from Cody Parkey.
With Fitzpatrick unable to sustain the following Buccaneers drive, the Browns and Hogan would take over on their own 13. Hogan would drive the Browns down the field, thanks in part to a HIGHLY questionable pass interference call. After the penalty, Hogan found receiver Jordan Leslie for the game’s first touchdown to put the Browns ahead 13-9.
Ryan Fitzpatrick would get one last chance to secure a Buccaneers victory, however he fumbled the ball taking a sack on 2nd and 3, which led to the Browns running out the clock to secure the victory.
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