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Pre-Season Game #1 Analysis: A very nice start to the Season

If you missed Saturday’s Pre-Season opening WIN over the Miami Dolphins; I’ll try and give you an idea of how the Bucs performed below:


QB Luke McCown didn’t play bad; he just didn’t seem to progress any from last season. His very first play from scrimmage was a sack and it was no fault of the o-line. Had Michael Clayton caught an absolute rope I may be thinking differently (would have been a 30+ yard gain easy), but McCown still over threw a sure touchdown pass to Clayton/Stovall (Pre-Season fuzziness) in the end zone. It’s his first Pre-Season game so there’s tons of time/room for improvement, but I know this is harsh; I don’t see what people see in him in terms of heir apparent?

QB Brian Griese, what can I say, he looked like he never left. He had a 76 yard 19 play drive that ended in a Brian Clark touchdown (Clark who?). If Garcia were to go down I think our season would still go up in flames, but I feel better with Griese steering the ship than had we just had McCown as an answer. I hate to say it, but Griese really looked good.. Or as Stephen Holder of the St. Pete Times would say, "Unspectacularly good"…

QB Chris Simms actually looked good for his first work since getting his spleen blown to pieces. He didn’t have a SINGLE PASS BATTED DOWN AT THE LINE!!! His short passes were on the money. None of our QB’s really threw the ball deep which was kind of maddening. Simms looked good though and even orchestrated a touchdown drive capped off by Michael Bennett. If his relationship wasn’t severed with the Bucs I would say he could actually battle for that #2 spot. As is I think we could get a #3 or #4 pick if he keeps playing like he is. I wish the Bucs would keep him, but I guess we’ll see.

The shock of the night was Rookie QB Josh Johnson actually getting in the game. Let me say for a Rookie under Gruden’s system, he looked dang good. He didn’t seem to be nervous, rattled, confused or anything. He put together a scoring drive (Bryant Field Goal). He looked very promising though.

The Running backs: Earnest and Warrick started but didn’t get a single carry. Kennth Darby, remember him? Last years 7th round pick, he got extensive reps and played alright. Last season Michael Bennett couldn’t get in the game because the playbook was too daunting. Well he must have been reading his kids Gruden laced Offensive Playbook stories, because he had a ridiculous amount of touches (19 carries). He played very well and even broke a 30+ yard run while Simms was under center. Several Bucs fans were speculating that the Bucs may be show casing him for a potential trade, but I think he’s more or less getting the reps Mr. August (aka Earnest Graham) used to rack up in the Pre-Season. Undrafted Rookie Clifton Smith got a ton of reps as well. He really has a fantastic speed burst. I’m not sure if he’ll make the team, but if he does I hope he at least returns Kickoffs.

The Receivers: Michael Clayton (shakes head), man. He started out the night looking energized and then the wind was taken out of his sails after he dropped an beautiful pass from QB Luke McCown. After that, he didn’t get to many looks. Hopefully he can shake this performance as he’s looked great in camp. That drop was huge though, it would have been a huge gain as Clayton was hit in stride… Stovall started in place of Galloway and looked pretty good. He was throwing his body around to make catches and he looked like he belonged out there. The Receiving Corps really did nothing to exude confidence from this Bucs Fan.

DJax got used in the 2nd half ONCE! He gained 11 yards on a swing pass; Gruden’s an idiot if he doesn’t incorporate DJax in the offense more. Antonio Bryant had three catches in traffic. Paris Warren was on the field, but I don’t remember seeing him. The same goes for Alex Smith. Gilmore looked good at tight end, especially after hearing he was a blocking tight end, yada yada. Again the Receiving Corps needs to drastically improve as its Garcia and Galloway out on that field. Hopefully Gruden held DJax back because of his groin, but I guarentee he treats him like Gaines Adams and doesn’t get him the reps he desperately needs. We’ll see

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What can I say about the Defense? Granted it was the Miami Dolphins, but that unit looked hungry, aggressive, and fast/strong. Sabby Piscitelli and Jermaine Phillips each laid monstrous blows. Can we play three safety’s at once? Sheesh. Barrett Ruud looked like he was primed for week 1 already. Despite the sack line (4 total), I thought the defensive line got decent enough penetration. Jimmy Wilkerson is as good as advertised. Gaines Adams and Greg White really didn’t show much (I’m not sure they played that much either). AQIB TALIB looked fantastic. He put a hit on Ricky Williams that really shows what the kid is all about. Talib came on the field on the first 3rd down of the game and basically never left!

The defense definitely has to work on covering the FB/TE. The Dolphins saw a lot of success going to either player and that’s going to kill us with the Saints. I’d like to see more QB pressures, but other than that the Defense looked pretty stout. Donte Nicholson did a bang up job on Special Teams, Jovan Haye didn’t make the flight down to Miami due to his groin, and Greg Peterson looked really good, like he’s grasped the defense.

General Thoughts:

Mr. Reliable in K Matt Bryant missed his first two field goal attempts of the game. I’m not worried, but it might not hurt to give him some type of competition during Training Camp. Dan Buenning played center for most of the game and did a fantastic job. Way to go Dan! LB Matt McCoy was wearing a helmet with audio transmissions, so that should be an interesting plus for the defense this season. I didn’t notice if Ruud had it as well, but I’m sure he did. All in all, I thought this was a pretty good performance by the Buccaneers. They should be proud… Oh and NO INJURIES!!!