Time for perspective Bucs fans and the Jaguars provided plenty in both team's second offering of the preseason.
Sure Jacksonville had two starting corners on the bench and sure this is one of the worst franchises in the NFL but the glaring contrast on this Thursday Night edition of Monday Night football were those two starting quarterbacks.
The Bucs franchise has had its share of Blake Bortles in its history---a top five drafted quarterback who failed to get better and never delivered the club to the postseason.
Those days appear to be over.
Jon Gruden said it before the game kicked off, " I think Jameis Winston is a legitimate MVP candidate."
He surely looked the part in Jacksonville where Winston is rising as fast as Bortles is falling.
The Bucs rising star leads off my top five takeaways from the Tampa Bay's second exhibition game of this Hard Knockin preseason.
(1) SHARING THE WEALTH: Winston was givin many new toys this offseason and he enjoying playing with all of them against the Jaguars --easily the most encouraging aspect of the game.
Winston found seven different targets from Mike Evans to DeSean Jackson to his two impressive tight ends in Cameron Brate and even welcomed first rounder OJ Howard to this pewter party.
Winston was 21 of 29 but should have been 23 of 29 as he had two drops--the most glaring was Evans not handling a sensational strike for a sure 1st quarter touchdown.
The 23 year old Bucs quarterback (how many times did they say his age on the telecast?) at times acted his age with his brutal on his knees meltdown pass late in the first half---that's what drives Dirk Koetter crazy (can't wait to hear about it on Hard Knocks) but for the most part, Winston was on the money where the potential of this offense continues to grow by the week.
(2) KICKING KRAZINESS KONTINUES : You wonder what the departed Roberto Aguayo was thinking watching his replacement Nick Folk miss the "exact" same kicks which kicked him out of town?
Sure Folk made two field goals but he had an extra point blocked and was off the mark on the same 47 yarder Aguayo missed a week ago.
Koetter was subsequently seen shaking his head and it wouldn't surprise me "if" Folk continues to be inconsistent, that even with newly acquired journeyman Zach Hocker on board that the Bucs kicker still may not be on the roster.
Last season Sean Payton had a camp battle between veterans Connor Barth and Kai Forbath but at the end of the day cut them BOTH---in favor of current kicker Will Lutz.
You never know in this league---Stay Tuned.
(3) PAYTON's PLACE: Sure Doug Martin showed everyone he is clearly the bell--cow running back on this team where he displayed his entire arsenal both running and catching the football.
The huge question--who will be that bell-cow when Martin misses the first three games of the season?
More and more it's looking like Payton Barber may be that Buc. He's had a great camp, Koetter loves him and against the Jags, Barber led the team in rushing including a game high 13 yard burst.
The smart money had Jacquizz Rodgers taking over for Martin early this season but the more chances Barber gets--he's certainly closing the gap.
(4) RYAN'S HOPE: The Bucs' first team defense was every bit as impressive as the offense at times in North Florida where it's good to see an up and comer make the most of his playing time.
With Brent Grimes on the sidline with an ugly cut on his right leg, it was time for converted safety Ryan Smith to step up---and that he did.
Smith providing some tight coverage playing with the first teamers where he tied for second with three tackles on the night----more than holding his own.
The Bucs' secondary continues to build quality depth, something this team could hardly boast in recent years.
(5) "BAD" Linebackers---Injured starter Devante Bond may become the Bucs version of Wally Pipp as this unit could have a new nickname with their starting lineup against the Jags.
These starters were an all around a "BAD" bunch. with Beckwith, Alexander and David.
Rising rookie star Kendell Beckwith has been arguably the biggest story on this side of the ball in camp and is looking more and more comfortable. This team knows what it has with the playmakers on the inside with Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David---having Beckwith join such a dynamic duo should create a lot of optimism.
BAD to the Bone----these backers are young and were impressive in the team's second preseason game--the heart and soul of a Tampa Bay D which promises to be only better this fall.
Until Next Blog,