Thank God the preseason doesn’t count, because the Buccaneers were just shellacked 30-3 by Washington’s second-stringers. Tampa’s depth chart has all the depth of an inflatable kiddie pool. Seriously, is there any position with adequate backup? The Redskins’ second and third units absolutely wrecked Tampa Bay, and created some serious questions about the unified strength of the Buccaneer roster.
Third-string quarterback Brett Ratliff, a 27-year-old undrafted passer out of Utah, made up for a lack of experience with shoddy mechanics and slow downfield reads. And the porous blocking didn’t help. New England castoff Tiquan Underwood was Ratliff’s most reliable target, and may have solidified a roster spot with his solid contribution on Wednesday night. And on the other side of the ball, outside of a pair of Sam Baker interceptions, most of the defense struggled against Mike Shanahan’s patented blend of off-tackle rushes and intermediate passes.
One bright spot from the Washington game (and a week earlier, against the Patriots) was kicker Kai Forbath. Which is an unfortunate place for a quality backup, because if there’s a reliable starter anywhere on this team, it’s Connor Barth. Forbath has, in my estimation, almost no shot at making the roster; Barth’s 2011 was the best kicking season in franchise history. The quiet kicker nailed 26 of 28 field goal attempts (93%), and clunked one of his misses off the uprights early in the season. He was perfect in the clutch, and showcased a leg fit for any situation. It’s unlikely Forbath has a chance.
And that’s a shame. Kickers don’t garner much trade value in the NFL. Teams rarely keep two on a roster, and if a backup shows any sort of promise, the interested parties will take their chances with the waiver wire instead of committing draft picks or players. This will likely be the case with Forbath, who might be the best backup on Tampa Bay’s roster.
A week ago, Forbath drilled a 51-yarder and a 55-yarder against the Patriots, with room to spare. Against the Redskins, he fired a torpedo through the uprights from 43 yards out for Tampa’s only points. Kai went 5-for-5 on kicks in the preseason — four of them from more than 40 yards out — and looks to be one of the few second-teamers on Tampa’s roster with any real promise. And the Bucs won’t get an ounce of use out of him.