The preseason finale has arrived
The Bucs third and final preseason game is here and with that marks one last chance for those battling for spots on the roster to make a lasting impression and make a case to stick on the team.
Head coach Todd Bowles has said that everyone will play in the game on Saturday night, so let’s get into some players Bucs fans should keep their eye on in the preseason finale.
QB Baker Mayfield
Mayfield has been the talk of the town this past week after Todd Bowles announced earlier in the week that Mayfield would indeed be the Bucs starting quarterback when the regular season begins. The former number one overall pick did enough in camp and the lone preseason game he played in to hold off Kyle Trask for the starting job and thus adding some much-needed clarity to Tampa Bay’s QB1 situation.
So now that Mayfield is officially the starter, all eyes will be on him to perform. He looked poised and made good decisions with the ball in his first outing of the preseason against Pittsburgh, but now he needs to do that again. Mayfield is a polarizing figure for sure. There are some that believe he can have a Geno Smith-esque career turn around and there are others that believe with Mayfield at the helm, the team is destined for a top five pick in the upcoming draft.
Saturday night is one final chance for Mayfield to earn some trust of the fan base before the games count for real. We will see if he can do it.
LT Tristan Wirfs
I personally have not agreed with the way the Bucs have handled Tristan Wirfs so far in this preseason. When changing a position, especially one as crucial as left tackle, I think it is important to get game reps under that player’s belt and so far Tampa Bay has not done that with Wirfs. He is an elite right tackle and everyone knows it, but the switch to the left side is a big unknown right now and he should have played in at least one of the previous preseason games.
However, he will have an opportunity to lineup on the left side for the first time this Saturday and hope to instill some confidence in a fan base that lacks confidence in this offensive line right now. Wirfs being an elite left tackle would be a total game changer for this offense and a big thing to check off the list of potential future needs, so hopefully he goes out and holds his own before the regular season begins.
OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka
Tryon-Shoyinka is another player that I felt should have been playing a bit this preseason. JTS is entering year three and it is a critical season for him. After having back to back seasons with just four sacks each, he is looking to prove that the Bucs did not make a mistake when they selected him in the first round a few years back.
Tryon-Shoyinka has all of the physical traits teams look for in pass rushers, he just has not fully put it together yet. A strong performance in the preseason would go a long in showing his improvement and would show how he has developed. JTS is a crucial piece for the Tampa Bay defense this season. He will likely never be a 12+ sack a year type player and that is fine, but he needs to be able to get to the QB more consistently than he has so far. With Shaq Barrett coming off of a major injury, the time is now for JTS to step up and become the pass rusher the Bucs envisioned him being when they drafted him.
This is it, folks. One last preseason game and then the Bucs will be off to Minnesota to take on the Vikings before we know it. This season has far more questions than answers, but the time is almost upon us to find out some answers about this team for the present and the future.