While the Bucs were pleased with their first victory in 9 months and 25 days, there were still some troubling signs in Week One of the pre-season.
Tampa Bay's defensive unit committed five off-sides penalties that helped Miami extend drives and wipe out solid plays. Most of those penalties occurred in the first two drives of the game when many of the Bucs regulars were in the game.
Beating yourselves with penalties was one of the many Achilles heels of the Tampa Bay defense last season. Another was missed tackles and that reared it's ugly head on the initial drive as well.
While watching it live, I counted at least five missed tackles on the first drive. Once we review the film once more, we're bound to find a few more.
The Dolphins also found it way to easy to attack the middle of the Bucs defense in the passing game. Dolphin quarterbacks Matt Moore and Ryan Tannehill combined for 21 of 33, 246 yards and a touchdown.
While some of that certainly could be attributed to Miami's odd no huddle K-Gun styled offense (Tampa Bay didn't exactly prepare for the Dolphins' offensive attack), just seeing the likes of Moore and the rookie Tannehill shred the Tampa Bay back seven gave you some shivers, considering the who's who of quarterbacks Tampa Bay will face this season.
While there's some definite areas to work on - there were certainly some positives out there on the field. First, the Bucs' run defense was excellent. A major eyesore last season, Tampa Bay limited the Dolphins to 43 yards on 15 carries (a 2.9 average). Miami star running back Reggie Bush had 17 of those yards, most of which came on a 12 yard scamper that saw three missed tackles by Buc defenders.
Bush was held to a 4.2 average, well below his 5.0 yards a carry he averaged last season.
With that said, Miami certainly was focused in determining who their starting quarterback was going to be and the passing game was paramount for them. They attempted a whopping 50 passes during the ballgame.
While Miami amassed 354 yards of total offense, the Bucs' defense was superb in the danger zone.
The danger zone is a little bigger than the red zone, starting at your opponents' 35 instead of the 20. From the 35 on in, a team with an NFL caliber kicker has the potential to get points.
Six times the Dolphins drove inside the Bucs' danger zone. Only once did they come away with points.
The Bucs defense slammed the door on Miami forcing two missed long field goals, an interception and protecting the goal line on fourth down twice.
The Bucs defense also excelled at getting off the football field on 3rd down. Miami was just 3 for 11 on third down conversions (23%).
The procedural penalties aren't acceptable - but they happen in the first pre-season game. That kind of stuff can get cleaned up pretty easily. The tackling and pass defense? That's a bit more concerning.
Still, we know that we didn't see all of Schiano and Sheridan's defense in the first pre-season game and we'll likely see a lot more of it the coming weeks leading up to the opener on September 9th.