The Tampa Bay Buccaneers opened their preseason in impressive fashion as they defeated the Miami Dolphins, 20-7. Here are a few observations from the Bucs victory.
Josh Freeman– This is obviously a huge season in the career of Josh Freeman, as he’s trying to rebound from his rough 2011 campaign which saw him throw just 16 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Freeman showed no lack of confidence on Friday as he continuously threw the football into traffic. These type of throws helped account for several of Freeman’s 22 picks last season but it was just the first preseason game. If there’s ever a time to try throwing into double and triple coverage, it’s now.
The Bucs ran to the left very often– If you’re going to spend a boatload on an offensive guard in the offseason, you might as well run behind him. Carl Nicks is the best at his position and he opened up plenty of space which led to a pair of touchdown runs.
LeGarrette Blount– Blount sees the writing on the wall with the team drafting Doug Martin in the first round but he’s not going to relinquish the starting running back job without a fight. Blount showed great vision and patience, and looked quick as he was able to turn the corner.
Doug Martin– The Bucs first-round rookie showed an ability to pick up blitzers and displayed great balance on a run where he was knocked off his feet and came down and kept going. Martin is an excellent pass catcher and it’s only a matter of time before he handles the bulk of the workload.
Tiquan Underwood– After spending the early part of his career in Jacksonville, mostly inactive, the former Rutgers product looks more comfortable than he ever has in his career. Underwood’s speed has never been questioned, but his hands were extremely poor in his last two stops. Tiquan made tough catches on Friday, as he has for much of Bucs camp en route to a three reception, 76-yard performance. If final cuts were made today, Underwood would likely make the team.
Pass rush– The Bucs didn’t register a sack on Friday night and rarely affected the Dolphins quarterbacks. Miami has a very solid offensive line and they dominated the Bucs starters.
Missed tackles– Tampa Bay missed about a dozen tackles on Friday which is par for the course for an opening preseason game. With the team not working on tackling drills in camp as much as years past, missed tackles should likely persist into the early part of the regular season.
Dan Orlovsky– There is no quarterback controversy in Tampa, but Dan Orlovsky’s stats may reflect otherwise. Orlovsky completed all eight of his passing attempts for 91 yards and looked completely in control against the Miami backups. Orlovsky knows his job is to help Josh Freeman get better and he seems up to the task.
Luke Stocker– As much as Dallas Clark has been heralded, it’s in the Bucs best interests if Luke Stocker wins the starting tight end job. Stocker is multi-dimensional and his presence on the field doesn’t tip the hand of what the offense is going to do.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for SportsTalkFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie