The Bucs aren’t playing any starters against Tennessee, and that’s totally fine

The only person who might care is Roger Goodell.

click to enlarge Tom Brady practices at One Buc Place in Tampa, Florida in Aug. 16, 2021. - Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kyle Zedaker/Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tom Brady practices at One Buc Place in Tampa, Florida in Aug. 16, 2021.

Head coach Bruce Arians has come out and established a plan for the Bucs’ starters in these final two preseason games.

Following the starters playing a total of 6 snaps in last Saturday’s loss to the Bengals, the starters won’t play at all this Saturday when the Tennessee Titans visit Raymond James Stadium. BA said the Titans’ physical play is the main reason for not wanting to risk any starters suffering injury. 

“Looking at the two practices [against Tennessee]—as good as I know they’ll go physicality-wise—we probably won’t play any starters,” Arians said, according to Scott Reynolds of “I don’t really want to put our starters back in [along the offensive line] or put them in at all. The offensive line might play in this game only by necessity. We’ll see how that goes.”

That does not mean we won’t be seeing any starters for the rest of the preseason, though. Arians went on to discuss his plans to play the starters “a significant amount” in the final matchup against the Houston Texans on Saturday, Aug. 28 at NRG Stadium. 

Now, before you go reading too much into this or grabbing pitchforks because you bought tickets to go see TB12 play at home this weekend, remember this Bucs team has already won a Super Bowl. If BA comes out next week and says “Screw it, we’re not playing any starters in the last game either,” that’d be completely understandable. They clearly have good team chemistry, and BA seems to possess a good sense of what it takes to coach a winning football team. 

There are some NFL coaches who subscribe to the idea of not playing their starters at all in the preseason (see: the Rams’ Sean McVay), and while it’s not commonplace, with the upcoming 17-game regular season the McVay might start to become a widely used practice. 

And in all honesty, it really should. These preseason games are great for evaluating what teams want to do to fill out their roster, but the starters really don’t need to be playing at all. While the NFL might start to have a problem with this line of thinking if it starts to affect ticket sales to these games, it really shouldn’t matter. The long-term effects of saving star players’ health for regular season games far outweigh the short-term financial gains of selling a few more tickets, from both a moral standpoint and from a financial perspective (no one’s going to buy tickets to go see Blaine Gabbert versus AJ McCarron in Week 2 if both TB12 and Matt Ryan get hurt in preseason games).

Then again, it’s the NFL. Relying on the league to make logical decisions on anything is futile. If this indeed happens they’ll end up starting to fine teams that sit their starters in preseason games because Roger Goodell is a greedy moron. 

So for now the Bucs will still be playing their starters in the final preseason game before they have to take on the Dallas Cowboys Sept. 9 at Raymond James for the official kickoff to the 2021-2022 campaign.

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