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Lovie Smith: Buccaneers' offense 'not ready yet'

Jeff Tedford has kept his Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense wrapped in mystery all offseason.

What we saw from the starting unit in Friday's 16-10 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars told us little more than this: There's plenty of more work to do.

Especially along an overwhelmed offensive line that kept starting quarterback Josh McCown under duress during all four of his offensive drives.

"We're not ready yet," coach Lovie Smith told The Tampa Tribune. "This first game we kind of see where we are a little bit. We had some protection issues. We didn't protect the quarterback well enough. That's pretty much it."

McCown lost a fumble and saw an overthrown pass intended for Mike Evans land in the arms of Jacksonville's Winston Guy, who took it 68 yards to the house. It was an ugly night, prompting The Tribune to call McCown "a man trying to play the piano in a buffalo stampede."

We saw in the Super Bowl what relentless pressure can do to even the most poised veteran under center. Protected well last season in Chicago, McCown generated a passer rating over 90.0 in all seven games in which he saw extensive action.

When Around The League asked Antonio Gates about last season's revival for Philip Rivers, the Chargers tight end cited better line play above all other factors in his quarterback's success.

Down in Tampa, McCown will take a beating on the airwaves as Bucs fans rush to judgement after one preseason game. Happens everywhere. It wasn't a promising start, but we'd argue McCown's troubles were rooted heavily in a line that couldn't blast holes for runners or keep the enemy out of the backfield.

The Bucs have the three more weeks to patch up a front five that loomed as the worst unit we saw in all six games on Friday night.

The latest Around The League Podcast answers every question about preseason action that you were too afraid to ask.

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