It’s only preseason. Repeat that to yourself a few hundred times.
It doesn’t count. It’s just practice. It’s pretend football.
The Bucs opened their preseason play Thursday night in the worst possible way, giving up a touchdown on a turnover inside a minute, then doing it again inside of five minutes in a 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Not how I drew it up,” said coach Dirk Koetter.
Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t count. But if you were hoping the Bucs would open their preseason looking like a team that had made great progress from last year’s 6-10 record, well, you’ll have to wait for another week.
Pretty much, this is how it went:
Worst start: Five seconds into the game, returner Kenny Bell fumbled the opening kickoff. The Eagles recovered, and three plays later, Ryan Matthews ran it in from the five.
Whoops, they did it again: On the Bucs’ second possession, quarterback Jameis Winston had the ball knocked away by Fletcher Cox, who recovered on the 12. Chase Daniels ran this one in for a 14-0 lead. In all, the Bucs had five turnovers in the game.
Best Hope: After his fumble, quarterback Jameis Winston actually played fairly well. He hit seven-of-nine passes for 97 yards, a rating of 148.6. He hit wide receiver Russell Sheppard with a 26-yard touchdown.
Running on Empty: The Bucs simply couldn’t run the ball against the Eagles. They ran it 21 times for 31 yards. Newly rich running back Doug Martin carried it five times for 13 yards, and six of those came on his first run.
Rough start: Roberto Aguayo (yes, he was drafted in the second round) hit the upright on his first NFL extra point. He did hit a 38-yard field goal later.
Best unit: The Bucs’ regular rotation had four sacks in the first half. “It would be hard to find fault with them,” said Koetter.
Déjà Vu: The Bucs, one of the most penalized teams in the NFL last year, were called 10 times for 92 yards.
Third and nowhere: The Bucs were three of 14 on third down.