Lovie Smith preaches patience following Bucs' sloppy opener
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - INSIDE SLANT
Lovie Smith preached patience following a 16-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday that featured some abysmal offensive line play.
"Don't overreact is what I would say," Smith said Saturday. "You guys (the media) don't lead the charge to start overreacting. Let it play out a little bit through the preseason. Just like when you come out to practice, the first preseason game, don't start printing up the Super Bowl tickets or cutting everybody on the team. Let things play out a little bit. That's what preseason games are for."
Bucs quarterback Josh McCown was under siege from the Jaguars pass rush and completed just 2 of 4 passes for 20 yards. He also was sacked once, fumbled twice, losing one, and had an interception returned 68 yards for a touchdown by Jacksonville safety Winston Guy. Much of the pressure came inside as starting guards Jamon Meredith and Oniel Cousins were beaten. Meredith had a false-start penalty and Cousins was flagged for illegal hands to the face, although that penalty was declined.
Smith said he believed right tackle Demar Dotson and center Evan Dietrich-Smith played well, but there was plenty of blame to go around. Dotson had a holding penalty that negated a 17-yard completion to receiver Chris Owusu. Starting left tackle Anthony Collins yielded a sack to Jags defensive end Chris Clemons.
"I know you want to ask about 30 offensive line questions right now so let's go into the offensive line right away," Smith said. "Demar Dotson played well. I mean he had the penalty that really hurt us. Most of those aren't normally called. He's been that way throughout. He's not the only one. Of course, Evan played well. We didn't play as well at the guard position as we needed to, but we needed to see them in that role.
"It comes down to a one-on-one game. Period. So we didn't handle those situations. What you want to see in those situations, it's not like you want to double their best players, you want to put guys on an island to see how we could perform one-on-one and we got beat a few times, especially inside at the guard position. But we got beat on the outside, too by some of our better players. That will just kind of get their attention a little more."
As a result of all the pressure on McCown, it was difficult to evaluate his performance Friday night. He showed good mobility in scrambling out of the pocket. But his throw under duress to Evans was a poor decision.
"It was tough but we got a chance to evaluate Josh under tough circumstances," Smith said. "That's why he's a mobile quarterback sometimes. Sometimes you have to move around a little bit. Josh will learn. He took a hit as he scrambled one time. You can't take that hit. But we'll have better protection for him and he'll be able to have more success.
"Anytime you throw a pick it's bad. There's a lot of people involved. We looked at the route. Was the split right? Was the receiver where he needed to be? Of course, there was pressure. That's part of it also. All of that comes into play."
NFL Team Report - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - NOTES, QUOTES
--For the second year in a row, the Bucs are making the commitment to casual fans that there will be no local TV blackouts, with all 2014 home games available for local TV broadcast.
The league's blackout rules state that a home game can't be shown locally if less than 85 percent of the non-premium seats have been sold, but a team short of that threshold can "purchase" unsold seats at a fraction of the price to lift the blackout. The Bucs made a similar announcement three games into last season, assuring local fans could watch the team's home games on TV.
The Bucs said "the majority" of the team's 2014 home games are projected to reach that 85 percent minimum, so the team might not have to write a large check to the league at all to assure no blackouts. This is a contrast to how the Bucs were from 2010-12, when only five of the team's 24 regular-season home games drew enough fans to be seen by local fans.
--How suffocating was the Bucs' defense Friday? Consider that the Jaguars' first half possessions ended with a punt, punt, punt, downs, punt and punt. The Bucs also got contributions off the bench, including three tackles, one for a loss, and a pass defensed by Da'Quan Bowers.
"There were a lot of encouraging points from last night. You have to look at the way we started the game," Smith said. "We chose to defer (the kickoff), wanted our defense to play first. Gerald McCoy, the best player on our team was that and played that way right away. Lavonte David, a lot of guys on the defensive side that you expected to play well did. It was good to get some of our young corners active while we were out there. Johnthan Banks played well. Rashaan Melvin, coming off the I.R. a little bit, played good ball. Major Wright. So defensively, there was some good play."
--Quarterback Mike Glennon connected on a scoring drive to tie Friday's game at Jacksonville on a night when little went right for the Bucs offense.