The Bucs got off the snide against the Miami Dolphins, posting a 17-16 victory. Were we able to glean any new information from this, the most important, of the glorified scrimmages?
Let's find out.
1. We got more bad Josh this week. So bad, even his supporters were like, "Holy hell, I could have made that pass to Ogletree in the flat." Hopefully this is a sign that Freeman is getting his kinks out early and will become the quarterback I talked about in The Freeman Question. I'm still not overly concerned about the Freechise. He has to play well this season. There's no choice. If he doesn't and crumbles under the weight on his shoulders - then frankly, he's not the guy the Bucs need and he's going to be looking for work in March. If he does well, everyone's happy. Freeman, to me, seems to be able to handle the criticism and what not in stride. I thought he read the defense well and delivered the football to the right target. It was the execution of the pass that was his downfall. It also didn't help that his most reliable receivers kept dropping perfectly thrown balls.
2. What's a bit more disturbing to me is the pass protection. Missed blocks all over the field at all levels (o-line, tight ends, running backs) resulted in six sacks on the night. Now, I know Free may be holding the ball a little longer to avoid the bonehead mistake and Glennon is a rookie, so it's natural that he takes a couple ticks longer to process - but a lot of the sacks weren't on the quarterbacks - it was just mano-e-mano getting your butt whipped. That can't continue to happen.
3. One thing that was very impressive on Saturday night was the Bucs pass rush. Non-existent most of the pre-season, the front line got after it after a very sleepy first drive. Adrian Clayborn flashed his old self just brutalising the Dolphin tackles and putting heavy pressure on Tannehill. Even try hard Teo' got after it and Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy showed his quick first step. I know the Dolphins offensive line is much maligned, but had the Bucs not generated any pass rush against those guys then there would be major trouble in paradise, folks.
4. I also liked what I saw from Akeen Spence against the run. Spence finally showed some of that promise with the lights on that he's shown in training camp and it has to have Buc fans excited. Spence was a wall against the run and the Bucs as a team limited Miami to just 2.4 yds a carry.
5. Trevor Scott, a camp body no one really expected to make an impact, was simply unblockable all night. Could he be the next scrap heap diamond Mark Dominik found? No one heard of Michael Bennett before Dominik found him floating around out there and maybe he's doing it again with Scott. Not bad for a guy who was on the street at the beginning of the week.
6. It was a bad, bad day for the wide receivers this week. They struggled to get open against the upgraded Miami secondary and combined for at least five drops (two by Vincent Jackson). That doesn't help, guys.
7. I officially like Brian Leonard as Doug Martin's backup. The former Rutgers star showed his versatility and ability to run the ball against a very tough Miami run defense. Mike James had some nice runs late but Leonard to me seems to be the guy there.
8. Kudos to the special teams who, with the exception of one return where they missed a few tackles, had an excellent day. I like Dimke as a kicker but does anyone else feel a bit more comfortable with the veteran Lindell? I think he's definitely an upgrade over Tynes, who should get an injury settled release once the MRSA clears up. I think Page is definitely going to be the kick/punt returner for the Bucs this season. He seems to have some talent in that area. Michael Koenen was kicking the snot out of the ball. Hopefully that's a preview of what's to come.
9. I was disappointed not to see Revis on the field as well but let's face it folks. We know what Revis brings. I'd rather have him built up, ready to go on September 8th than throw him in there in a meaningless pre-season game on that garbage field and in wet conditions.
10. The best news to come out of Saturday night's game. No major injuries. The third pre-season game is always the most nerve racking because the starters are exposed the longest. With the fourth game consisting of the back end of the roster, the Bucs have escaped the meat of the pre-season without that devastating Davin Joseph type setback. That, in itself, is a major accomplishment.
There will be no 10 Things next week as we begin our preparation for the 2013 season opener (plus the game is just going to be the Bucs' cut bait against the Redskins' cut bait - we're not going to learn a lot from that).