The Bills and Buccaneers squared off in their dress rehearsal for the regular season last night and the length of time that each teams’ starters stayed in the game should give you some indication of how this tune up went.
While the Buffalo Bills’ first-team offense rounded out their display with two scoring drives in the third quarter this was against the Buccaneers’ second team defense with the likes of Gerald McCoy, Michael Johnson and Lavonte David leaving the fray at half time. A clear victory for a Bucs’ defense that actually outscored the Buffalo offense in the first half.
On the other side of the ball, the victory wasn’t quite so clear cut. Tampa Bay did get a couple of scores and had more success but the likes of Brandon Spikes and Marcell Dareus certainly caused some problems for a Tampa Bay offensive line that looks set to be a problem when the regular season rolls around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Performances of Note
Josh McCown, QB, +2.1
Breakdown: Things started shakily for McCown through no fault of his own. A fumble when he was hit in his throwing motion was followed by an interception courtesy of a slip by his intended receiver. From there on McCown displayed the accuracy and composure that made him an easy choice for the Bucs to bring in as their starting quarterback. Routinely moving the chains before finishing off with a deep touchdown pass off a double move this is the sort of assured display the Bucs will want to see from McCown in two weeks.
Signature Stat: As composed as he was on the short passes, McCown made his deeper passes count; 3-of-4 for 50 yards and a score on passes aimed at least 10 yards downfield.
Clinton McDonald, DT, +2.9
Breakdown: Not wishing to be outdone by another supreme display by Gerald McCoy (+5.0), Clinton McDonald chipped in with an impact performance of his own. He trailed one behind the team lead with three stops (four for Mason Foster), added a hit in the passing game, drew three penalties from the Bills’ offensive line and capped it off with a fumble recovery touchdown.
Signature Stat: Has earned a positive grade in run defense in all three of his preseason games with the Bucs.
Demar Dotson, RT, +2.0
Breakdown: Last season Demar Dotson was a rare bright spot on an otherwise disappointing Tampa Bay offensive line, quietly producing Pro Bowl caliber displays. In spite of the investment around him last night was a similar story with Dotson earning the only positive grade among the starters. Dotson let up no pressure and was solid if unspectacular in the run game.
Signature Stat: Bounced back from a display that saw him let up a hit and a hurry on 13 pass blocks against the Dolphins last week.
Buffalo Bills – Performances of Note
Brandon Spikes, MLB, +4.3
Breakdown: At his best coming forward, Tampa Bay struggled to cope with the Bills’ buccaneering middle linebacker last night. Exposed once in coverage by Doug Martin in the first quarter Spikes was otherwise driving downhill either as a pass rusher or run defender making stops and leaving his mark on Josh McCown.
Signature Play: Proving not to be a complete liability in coverage, Spikes drove on a badly forced throw by Mike Glennon on his final snap in the game (Q3, 10:11) to punch the Bucs off the field.
Erik Pears, RG, -4.2
Breakdown: The return of Cory Glenn (-1.2) saw a re-shuffle on the right side that didn’t go well for either Erik Pears or Seantrel Henderson (-2.4). This was a baptism of fire for Pears who struggled with the destructive pairing of McCoy and McDonald. Both as a run blocker (-2.3) and pass protector (-1.5) Pears struggled, surrendering stops, pressures and a hold in each phase of the game.
Signature Stat: Both Pears and Henderson graded negatively after cumulative positive grades at LT (+2.8 for Henderson) and RT (+1.7 for Pears), respectively, in the first three preseason games.
Nigel Bradham, SLB, +1.7
Breakdown: The loss of Kiko Alonso might have raised concerns but right now the Bills’ linebacking corps looks to be a real strength of the defense. The trio of Nigel Bradham, Spikes and Keith Rivers earned a combined +9.9 overall grade and netted 10 stops. This is Bradham’s fourth straight positive grade in the preseason, grading a cumulative +6.2 overall on 76 preseason snaps.
Signature Stat: Tied Spikes for the team lead with four stops.
PFF Game Ball
Not quite the +8.6 grade of a week ago but Gerald McCoy was once again too hot to handle for an AFC East offensive line. Through three preseason games, McCoy now has a frankly absurd +16.5 overall grade on 67 snaps.
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