The Greg Schiano era officially started last night with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking the field for the first time under his guidance. I have attended Buccaneers training camp this summer and some of the same things I’ve witnessed in practice, showed up on the field last evening against the Miami Dolphins.
The Buccaneers have stated repeatedly this offseason that they want to be able to run the ball more effectively this season and if last night was any indication, they are well on their way of establishing a run game. Third-year RB LeGarrette Blount got the starting nod and promptly scored a touchdown. Rookie RB Doug Martin showcased this athletic ability on a 10-yard scamper where he made a dazzling 360 degree spin and nearly fell down. Martin also demonstrated while the coaching staff claims he’ll become a three down back in the league with a stunning blitz pickup of Dolphins LB Cameron Wake. The Buccaneers were able to run effectively on third down as well.
The receiving corps appears to be as deep as advertised. Tiquan Underwood has impressed in practice this season and he didn’t fail to deliver on the field as well last night, recording three receptions for 76 yards. He appears to be a lock to make the final 53 man roster.Underwood bailed out QB Dan Orlovsky with a spectacular 44-yard reception while being closely double covered.
Journeyman QB Dan Orlovsky continued his strong play on the field and seems to have a strong understanding of the offense while completing a perfect eight of eight passing for 91 yards.
WR Preston Parker also appears to be a lock as the Buccaneers slot receiver this season. However, he might be relieved of his return duties as he has struggled with ball security. He recorded another fumble on a punt return last evening. A possible replacement in the return game for the Buccaneers could be Utah State rookie RB Michael Smith. The seventh-rounder ripped off a dazzling 73-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
Rookie RB LaVonte David showed that he could become a play maker of the Buccaneers defense. David was labeled as an instinctive defender heading into the draft and last night he finished the evening with an interception and a pass defended along with two tackles.
The Buccaneers enter the 2012 needing to strengthen their defensive play. On the upside, Tampa limited the Dolphins to just 43 yards on the ground, a good sign for a unit which was dead last in the NFL against the run. On the downside, the Buccaneers secondary allowed Miami 311 yards through the air.
Shortly before kickoff, news broke that Miami Dolphins QB David Garrard sustained a knee injury and will be out likely for at least a month. Garrard had been drawing rave reviews on the practice field this season prior to sustaining his injury. The race for the starting quarterback job now appears to have come down to between Matt Moore and rookie QB Ryan Tannehill.
Despite all the questions surrounding Tannehill and his lack of experience as a starting quarterback, Tannehill looked pretty solid. He completed 14 of 21 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown. I expect that Tannehill will be starting for the Dolphins at some point this season.