August 10, 2012; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Shiano talks with linebacker Najee Goode (53) during the third quarter at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
In a game with nothing at stake, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed that they were ready to play. It wasn't perfect and there was a lot of room for improvement, but the first game under Greg Schiano certainly showcased a team that's ready to play. The Bucs also showcased their new philosophy against the Miami Dolphins: aggressive on defense, run the ball on offense and take some shots down the field.
With a total of 34 carries to just 24 passes, the team certainly committed itself to running the ball. The Bucs produced just 86 yards on the ground out of those 34 carries, but the production of the first string running backs must have been encouraging. Blount got the ball 7 times, producing 30 yards and a touchdown. Doug Martin got 7 carries as well, and turned them into 21 yards and a touchdown. Not stellar production, but against a solid Miami run defense it was encouraging to see the Bucs actually stick to their plan of attack: run the ball.
Still, it wasn't the first-string offense that produced the most impressive plays. Two Tiquan Underwood catches showcased the receiver's speed with the second string, as on the second offensive drive of the game he managed one sideline catch for 23 yards and another impressive catch in traffic for 44 yards, setting up Doug Martin's touchdown run. The second- and third-string offense managed to add two more field goals the rest of the game, in part because of two impressive kickoff returns by seventh-round rookie Michael Smith.
On defense, the Bucs were generally impressive. Although the team got no sacks, they managed to produce some pressure and tip two balls. Tampa Bay needs to find a way to get to the quarterback, however, and it appears that Schiano is well aware of that: a number of blitzes were called, and the team appeared to have an aggressive plan. However, penalties hurt their efforts, with five offside penalties called against the Buccaneers, one of them declined. Offside penalties were an issue last season, too, and are in part a consequence of an aggressive defensive line. The missed tackles returned as well, with Cody Grimm missing a few in particular.
Overall, though, this was a productive start to the Greg Schiano era. The Bucs walked away with their first win in 11 games, while the team looked more disciplined and composed. The Bucs had a gameplan and stuck to it, and managed to turn a few productive plays into a win and, more importantly, the players and the team as a whole played well.