I wouldn't usually detail another team's performance in the preseason, but there are a couple of reasons why I decided to watch this game. First, it is Week 3 of the preseason which generally gives you a good look at what a team looks like (unless they played late in the weekend and then had to play on Friday like the Titans). Also, how often do you get to see a team's Week 1 and Week 2 opponent play each other in a meaningful preseason game?
It was so strange that I decided to recap some of the things I saw and relate them to what I have see from the Tennessee Titans.
-Jameis Winston just isn't as good yet as people expected him to be. I say that partially because I have been watching how poised Marcus Mariota has looked in the pocket and there is a clear difference. Not only that, but Winston doesn't read defenses and often only completes passes to running backs or when Vincent Jackson is wide open. This is a huge issue for him, and it was clear that the Cleveland Browns had been gameplanning and figured him out. He finished his night 6-15, 90 yards, INT.
-While Marcus Mariota is at around 70% completion with no passing touchdowns and one interception, after tonight's game Jameis Winston's stats stand at 49%, no passing touchdowns, and two interceptions. Not a good look.
-Defensively, the Buccaneers look alright, but nothing special. The Cleveland Browns receivers made short work of the Bucs defensive backs (including Alterraun Verner who looks out of place).
-The offensive line was just crushed. Not in a way that made the Cleveland Browns looked good, in a way that just made you think that this team is starting people because they have no other options.
-Doug Martin looks very good as does Vincent Jackson, but the OL and QB are going to hold this team back.
-Danny Shelton looks really good. Not only is he powerful, but his motor is going from whistle to whistle and he will do his best to run you down and make you pay if you go outside.
-The tiny receivers of the Browns are quick the DBs for the Bucs really struggled. This will be an interesting test from a group of corners for the Titans that all probably match up better against smaller guys.
-The DBs for the Browns were always close to the ball, but dropped several interceptions. Being generous, I would say that Winston should have thrown 3 interceptions in this game, but you could make the argument that 5 could have been picked. So I don't see Marcus Mariota struggling against this unit.
-The last thing I noticed is that this defense wants to stop the run badly and they bite on run fakes HARD. With Marcus Mariota being a threat on the ground and with the Titans wanting to establish the running game, I imagine that there will be a lot of money to be made with some nice play actions.