The third preseason game is the one that most resembles a regular season game as starters typically play about a half before giving way to backups. The fourth game is largely a scrimmage between camp fodder to see who will be the 53rd man on the roster.
This game holds some additional meaning for Bucs fans. It's the first home game (which I'll be attending), first chance for Cadillac to get on the field, and the game which should determine who lines up on opening day at many positions, none more ballyhooed than quarterback.
With a short week to prepare, the Bucs are looking to open up their home season in style. Let's take a look at some of the game info.
Date: Thursday, August 27, 2009
Time: Kickoff at 8:00 PM ET
Where: Raymond James Stadium (Seating capacity of 65,857)
Where to Watch: Fox- Channel 13 (Brighthouse/Verizon) or 613/513in HD (Brighthouse/Verizon)
Where to Listen: 103.5 FM or WDAE 620 AM
Miami is 2-0 and coming off a 27-17 win over Carolina. The Dolphins are a team built in the Bill Parcells mold. They aren't flashy, they don't wow you, but they get the job done. We all know the 2008 story for the Fins. 1-15 the prior year, they stormed the league and made the playoffs, concluding a remarkable turnaround. They won't sneak up on anyone this year as Sparano and company are on the radar.
The epitomy of an efficient, non high octane offense. The Dolphin's attack revolves around running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams to power them. Chad Pennington is one of the most accurate passers in the NFL, but we all know the knock on his arm strength. He relies on reading defenses and anticipation to beat teams. The Dolphins were the first team to successfully use the Wildcat offense, with Ronnie Brown taking direct snaps. This year, they've added former Mr. Everything from West Virginia, Pat White, to not only add depth at QB, but to perhaps spice up the Wildcat attack. The receivers aren't household names, but Ted Ginn Jr is the deep threat, with Camarillo and Bess running the possession routes. They'll kill you with efficiency if the defense gives up 4 yards a pop. Pennington will play a half, and then give way to Chad Henne, who should take them the rest of the way.
A different group than most remember, although there is one new yet familiar face. Jason Taylor is back with Miami, and looks to provide the pressure. Joey Porter, his mouth, and Channing Crowder will be bringing the lumber at linebacker and the defensive backfield features Vontae Davis, Will Allen, and Yeremiah Bell. The run a 3-4 defense, and have the parts to be successful. No official word, but expect the starters to go a full half before coming out.
While preseason games don't mean much, going 2-0 is better than being 0-2. Beating Jacksonville by 3 and Carolina by 10 has the Fins ready to come to Tampa and look for their third win. This will be Miami's first road game of the year, after playing at Landshark Stadium for the first two weeks.
Top Story Lines - Miami
What will the Wildcat bring in 2009. As mentioned, Pat White can be a new and key part of the WildCat attack. Keep an eye on the running back split between Brown and Williams, as Brown looks to take command of the job and see more carries. The receiving trio will need to continue to be clutch, as big plays and Penningtons arm dont often collide. Anthony Fasano will probably end up being a big part of their success.
Once again the Bucs come into a game with the expectations to name a starter when it's completed. After a close win against Jacksonville, the Bucs are looking to chalk up back to back wins in their first home game of the year. This will be a key game in shaping the team as players are juggled into new positions
Big changes this week as Jermaine Phillips slides back to safety, Angelo Crowell hits the IR, and Geno Hayes looks (for now) to take over the WLB position. The front four will need to continue pressuring the QB. The run defense has been fairly stout thus far, and will receive a good test on ability and discipline with the Fins attack coming into town. The secondary will have to avoid the big plays against them and try to create some turnovers this week, as last week was a lesson in what not to do on defense.
We all know the big story. Who will be the QB? Each starter will go 1.5 quarters to see who can win the job. There still are some battles at running back (who knew) and wide receiver. Something to key on is the progress the OL makes this week. We need to continue to see progress being made, holes being opened and assignments being understood. When the starters are in, expect a more balanced attack, particularly to see how the run game does, and how the quarterbacks handle all situations.
A down to the wire win over Jacksonville, highlighted by Freemans, score and stumble. The Bucs sit at 1-1 after their win at half empty Jacksonville and look to continue on. Big plays were a part of both side of the ball.
Top Story Lines - Tampa Bay
Obviously the QB battle, but how about Cadillac seeing his first time since shredding his other knee? Word is, he will be the last player introduced. Flip moving back to safety is a move to watch, as well as the battle at kicker (if both play) and for the third wide receiver spot.
Players To Watch
- Cadillac comingback from his second surgery. If this guy gains any yards, consider it a remarkable, improbable comeback. All the pundits and talking heads left him for dead, I'm excited to see what he can do.
- Sabby Piscitelli: How will he fit in with Flip coming back to safety?
- Barrett Ruud: He has to make an impact this week. He's been invisible for too long
- How each quarterback handles the situation. This is the last fight for the job.
Things to Watch For
- Will attendance be as bad as everyone thinks?
- How will Morris' 2-2-1 splitting of series for running backs work?
- WIll the defense shut down the big plays?
- Can the D remain disciplined against the Wildcat
- How will Morris' home tenure start
Kareem Huggins, Matt Bryant, Antonio Bryant, Dexter Jackson, Michael Clayton, Donte Nicholson, John Gilmore and Will Allen are all out of tonight's game.
Elbert Mack is questionable and will be a game time decision.
I think Morris gets the team fired up and they play well. I'm expecting a 27-13 win for the Bucs. Particularly with our starters most likely going a bit deeper than Miami's
(Editor's note: This is preseason for the staff also. If there are other looks, pieces of info or segments you want, let me know. I figure a look at each team, their injuries, stat leaders, team stats, and stories on each side of the ball should work, but as always, I'm open to suggestions).