Hurricanes at Lightning Pre-season Game 1

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Although our Florida National News fans voted in the game day poll for a Tampa Bay Lightning win, that was not the pre-season game 1 result. Carolina topped Tampa Bay 3-0. The Hurricanes came out in the 1st period with an early and successful shot on goal by Max McCormick and that somewhat set the tone for the game. The Lightning struggled and beat themselves in the six penalties they racked up.

The six penalties cast an even larger shadow on tonight’s matchup, seeing as Coach Jon Cooper said that penalties were a highly worked on and emphasized situations in training camp. One Lightning player that didn’t disappoint with penalty situations was Mitchell Stephens, Coach Cooper said that Stephens was on the puck quite a bit. When asked about the penalty kills in the locker room, Stephens said “I worked on face offs a lot this offseason”, and it showed.

Lightning Forward, Danick Martel had a similar response about the penalties and the need to correct them moving forward, but as for his own performance in the game, Martel says “I just need to skate harder, even if I mess up, I got to get up a skate”. It is just game one of the pre-season and the team faces the Hurricanes again tonight in Carolina with a chance to build off last night’s lessons.

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Week 2: Bucs at Panthers

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Regardless of the outcome, everyone enjoys a good game and the Bucs versus Panthers gave fans that. Heading into Thursday night’s match up, Carolina was favored to win by 6.5. Due to the close game the Panthers had against the Rams in week, there were a lot of strengths displayed that placed Carolina as the “clear” winner. Starting with the Panther’s defense allowing the 6th lowest passer rating in the league for week against the Rams.

After Winston’s week 1 performance, it was assumed that the Panthers defense would have controlled Winston’s game, but Jameis came out and showed maturity and growth in his game. Winston showed faster decision making and quick and effective releases of the ball. As mention in pre-game Winston was assumed to do better with decision making with his top target back in the game, Evans had an impactful 41-yard catch, but the play maker of last night’s game was Chris Godwin with 121 receiving yards.

Statistically, Carolina had more passing 1st downs and total plays, but Tampa Bay surprisingly over shadowed the Panthers and the leading running back, Christian McCaffery by having 12 more rushing attempts than the Panthers and averaging 1.1 more yards per rush. Week 1, we saw more of a running game out of the Bucs between Barber and Jones, but against Carolina, Barber was the leading running back, rushing for 82 yards and scoring 1 of the Bucs 2 touchdowns.

BP2Tampa Bay’s defense was another underestimated element to last night’s match up. The Bucs defense truly kept them in the game yet again, locking down the red zone and securing a major play 4th down play in the 4th quarter that could have handed Carolina the game. We have seen some key plays made by cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves in week 1 with his pick 6 and now week 2 with his shoving McCaffery out of bounds, eliminating the Panthers last chance for a win.

Week 2: Bucs at Panthers What to Expect

After greeting week 1 with losses, the Bucs and the Panthers will both be hungry for a win tonight in Charlotte. The odds are standing favorable for the Panthers, but here are somethings to look for in tonight’s match up before leaning in one direction over another.

The Panthers have an edge on the Bucs with a dominant running game in Christian McCaffery, who rushed for 128 yards and had 81 receiving yards against the Rams strong defense in week 1. As seen in the Bucs versus 49ers week 1 game, the Bucs defense let up too many rushing yards, so if Tampa’s defense struggles with this again, McCaffery is a more relentless running back than San Francisco’s two running backs. Although when comparing the Bucs offense to the Panthers offense, the Bucs have more weapons at their disposal with a healthier Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, O.J Howard, Cameron Brate, Peyton Barber, Ronald Jones II, and potentially Tanner Hudson, who is a new addition to the Bucs offense, yet shown himself to be a very athletic and versatile option for Tampa Bay.

Tonight, will be a huge indicator on Winston’s developments at quarterback and a test for the offensive line. Carolina doesn’t have the same insane front-line pressure on defense as the 49ers did, but they have the Bucs former team captain, Gerald McCoy leading the panther defense and key players Shaq Thompson and James Bradberry. The Panthers defense allowed the 6th lowest passer rating in week 1 and those stats against the Rams is significant. For the Bucs offense to have a progressive chance, Winston’s many weapons will have to help, and the running game will have to be more than just present but dominantly effective.

We will see which team is more hungry to take this win tonight at 8:20pm in Charlotte!

Week 1: 49ers at Bucs

Week 1 of the 100th NFL season is in the books and Sunday’s results were quite unexpected! Tampa Bay kicked off week 1 by having a pre-game concert with country super star, Tim McGraw! The 49ers beat the Bucs 31-17, a game that was very much in the Bucs control the first half of the game. Early in the first quarter San Francisco drove down the field, attempting to get into the end zone and fell short having to settle for a field goal. That was an early indicator in the game that the 49ers meant business, but that the Bucs young defense were going to continuing impressing fans with their consistency even after pre-season.

Although the Bucs had hopeful offensive progressions, they struggled to find a rhythm on offense, mainly due to the aggression that the Niners defensive was predicted to have. With front men like, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Deforest Buckner, it was anticipated that the Bucs offense would face a lot of pressure. Regardless of San Francisco’s defense, Tampa Bay showed an impressive running game for a time that did not have one. Everyone is quite familiar with Peyton Barber and his running back abilities when he is protected, but the eye catcher of this game was sophomore, Ronald Jones II. Jones created opportunity for the Bucs to trot downfield and showed that he is not afraid to lower his shoulder and fight for those few extra yards. Last year, in Jones’ rookie season, he only appeared briefly in a few games and was managing through a hamstring injury, so what his role would be in this year’s offense was not well known.

In the post-game press conference, we asked Coach Arians, what was his biggest coaching challenge against this 49er’s defense, he said “turnovers” coach also mentioned that he may have gotten greedy in the second half of the game on 4th down when he had the Bucs go for it rather than settle for a field goal. A call like that shows us the trust he has in maturing quarterback, Jameis Winston. Another fact that played against both teams in this game were the many flags thrown and a total of five called back touchdowns.

This loss could have been either teams, but unfortunately an interception in the 4th quarter changed the chances of Tampa Bay coming back. In the press conference Jameis Winston said that the team has a quick turn around this week, so they will watch film and then turn their attention towards Thursday’s road game in Charlotte, North Carolina versus the Panthers.

The 100th NFL season is in sight! Here’s what to expect in the Bucs vs. 49ers home opener, Sunday September 8th.

bucs niners picThe 100th NFL season home opener is finally in view. Kicking off this Sunday at 4:25pm in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers welcome the 49ers into Raymond James Stadium. There is much anticipation surrounding this game, starting with Tampa’s legendary former safety, John Lynch, being San Francisco’s general manager.

As far as roster confidence goes, the 49ers have more consistency on both sides of the ball. Defensively San Francisco has one of the strongest front seven in league involving Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Deforest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. Where as The Buccaneers, suffered defensively last year, being named one of the worst defenses, primarily due to a lot of injuries taking place early in the season. With that said, the Bucs also lost two of their top defensive players, Gerald McCoy and Kwon Alexander. As worried as that may have initially had many fans, the new and young Bucs defense has proven to be quite reliable this pre-season, especially in the red zone and 3rd down. Tampa Bay’s secondary looks to have solid match up capabilities utilizing their speed and quick vision on the field. The excitement for the Bucs newest defense leader, Ndamukong Suh, has been up in the air, but regardless of previous judgement of Suh, he is proven to be a very dominant player of defense with much strength and versatility for his frame. Suh can offer a lot on the Bucs defense, as he played many different positions for the Rams last season.

On the offensive side of the ball, there are still many questions regarding Jameis Winston and what he will learn and apply from new head coach, Bruce Arians. Winston has mentioned in press conferences that he has plays where he needs to get out of the pocket faster, but most of Winston’s trapped moments is due to lack of pass protection. Blaine Gabbert does offer more mobility at quarterback, but he is still questionable after a shoulder injury versus the Browns in pre-season. In this game, we will finally gage a better idea of the run game the Bucs are looking to establish, but it’s safe to say many eyes will be on Barber, granted the offensive line does their job. A positive note for Tampa Bay’s offensive is the strength they have in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, and now potentially pre-season stand out tight end, Tanner Hudson. The Bucs are not short of offensive weapons, but the ball needs to make it to them. As for the 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo is healthy, but getting back into the grove of things post surgically repairing his knee last season. San Francisco has a reliable run game in Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida and do not fall short on offensive weapons themselves in George Kittle, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor.

This should be a neck and neck game, nothing short of entertaining with much talent on both teams. Winston carries more experience between the two quarterbacks, which can play in favorably, but Garoppolo has showed strong strides in his healthy playing time. More importantly this will be a great kickoff game to the 100th NFL season!

Browns vs. Bucs Pre-season Game 3

Browns v Bucs Pic1The Tampa Bay Buccaneers remained home as the Browns came to Raymond James for pre-season game 3. As we all know pre-season games are just a sneak peak into what we can potentially see from our favorite teams this season, depending on what the head coaches need to evaluate in each game. As excited as both Bucs and Browns fans were for last night’s match up, Browns head coach, Freddie Kitchens did not play his 1st string guys much, especially once the first quarter wrapped. Where as coach Arians had quarterback, Jameis Winston in the whole first half of the game before bringing in, Blaine Gabbert. In Winston’s time on the field, the quarterback was sacked five times! 2 of those sacks Winston took personal fault for in the post-game press conference stating that he needs to get out of the pocket faster and faster decision making, but what is pre-season for if not to learn and move forward.

As for more quarterback action, the ball began moving when quarterback, Blaine Gabbert hit the field in the second half of the game, creating progression for the Bucs offense before suffering a minor shoulder injury. Details on Gabbert will be release later next week. This put Griffin out in Gabbert’s place and quite frankly we finally started to see some football, starting with the Bucs getting into the end zone. There is an undeniable connection between Griffin and up and coming tight end, Tanner Hudson. Hudson’s name has come up a lot in pre-season, he has shown himself to be a key situational player for this Bucs offense, making some impressive catches against the Browns defense.
Browns v Bucs Pic2Speaking of defense, all eyes have been on the Bucs young and developing defense with much anticipation that draft and trade wise they have headed in the right direction. Last night the Bucs defense kept them in the game, the secondary especially! Tampa Bay’s defense let the Browns know there was no margin for error in the red zone and the endurance these players showed in 3rd down situations is what Buc fans have been waiting for. Stand outs in last night’s secondary were cornerback, Carlton Davis III and safety, Jordan Whitehead.
Heading into next week’s game, the final pre-season game versus the Cowboys, the Bucs hope to continue progressing their offense and applying coach Arian’s new tempo. As excited as everyone is to see new strides in the Bucs defense, we need to see more strides in the offense, beginning with pass protections. Stay tune as the Bucs head to AT&T Stadium, August 29th.

Bucs Training Camp 2019 has Begun!

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Photo by: Buccaneers.com

Just like that, football is back! Thursday, July 25th the Tampa Bay Bucs returned to begin training camp for the 2019 season. The upcoming season holds a lot of anticipation due to the many moves made in the off-season, the most exciting one being the Bucs new head coach, Bruce Arians. Arians known for his previous successes with the Arizona Cardinals told Florida National News in May that he was bringing a new system and pace to the Bucs and felt confident with how the guys were already taking to the new tempo, but that training camp would be the tell all.

Day one of training camp opened with a press conference with Coach Arians telling us what he was expecting with this camp, coach stated that “the next two days were to see exactly what they have and where they stand as a team”. The team had their conditioning test that day as well and coach mentioned that so far, all the guys have reported back in great shape, but there has not been any confirmation of who is or isn’t injured heading into the 2019 pre-season. As important as it is to see the whole team when starting a new season, most importantly fans want to know what to expect from the rookies and how much of a role some of those guys will have. When asked about the rookies, coach Arians said that “this is the most mature group of rookies I’ve ever worked with in my 20-something years in the NFL”. Coach mentioned how impressed he was with serious they were and ready to get to work.

As we know from last season, the Bucs battled many issues trying to keep their top players healthy and creating some consistency on offense. After coach Arians, Quarterback, Jameis Winston, came in and of course there were plenty of questions about this team’s dynamic so far and how the new system is coming along. Winston responding by saying how excited he is to work with this new coaching staff and learn even more. They are in the process of still dumbing things down, so that they get this new tempo down pact. Winston was asked about his progression from last season to this season and he said he is just focused on doing his job the best he can, so that he can help the team do better. He has already been working with the new receivers to start building that relationship before the season, but other than that he is focused and excited for this training camp, “Coach Arians is a players coach, it’s great how he’s able to relate to the players”.

The atmosphere at the Bucs facility is fresh and hungry! All of the Bucs players, old and new are on a clean slate with a new coach and a new system, so everyone has one job at this point to learn and apply, which is what training camp is all about and Florida National News will be there to see this new team grow!