2011 Tampa Bay Buccaneer Preseason: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Versus Miami
The contest was essential in determining where the Buccaneers stand at this point in the NFL Preseason. Many facets of Tampa Bay's game still need adjusting, while other phases have either pleasantly surprised or disappointed the fan base.
There certainly was a list of Good, Bad, and Ugly during the Buccaneer's victory.
J. Meric/Getty Images
The Defensive Line
One of the biggest question marks coming into the game against the Dolphins was how the Buccaneer's defensive line would bounce back after a poor performance against the New England Patriots. They were able to exceed expectations in this respect.
All four starters across the defensive line showed how physical and violent they are capable of being, and the back-ups displayed why the line won't skip a beat while being rotated.
Michael Bennett, featured above, got the line fired up with a crucial sack on Dolphin's quarterback Chad Henne and finished the game with three tackles, all of them for a loss.
First-round draft pick Adrian Clayborn came alive and showcased his skills as both a pass-rusher and run-stuffer, harassing Henne throughout the first quarter.
Brian Price was a pleasant surprise, playing the run well along side Frank "The Tank" Okam, who plowed through Miami's offensive line, plastering running back Reggie Bush in the second quarter, which kept him from scoring.
After the Okam play, Da'Quan Bowers tackled a scrambling Henne, preventing him from reaching the endzone.
Buccaneer head coach Raheem Morris continues to give Watson a chance to shine and the second-year pro doesn't disappoint, racking up another sack in the preseason and displaying his versatility by playing the "gunner" position during punts.
The 3-3-5 defense isn't something typically seen in the NFL, but Morris has developed his own style in utilizing Watson as a blitzing linebacker off of the line of scrimmage.
If Watson's not getting to the quarterback, he's certainly schooling the offensive line while forcing bad throws.
J. Meric/Getty Images
Blasphemy! Erroneous! But true.
Freeman was far from sharp, nearly getting intercepted on two separate occasions in the first half, all of which would have been his fault.
While the offensive line allowed him to get pressured for the second game in a row, Freeman's decision-making was off even when he did have time to throw, forcing the ball into tight spaces and double-clutching more than fans are used to seeing.
Freeman's accuracy was off too, sailing the ball a few times early in the contest and missing four straight passes with four minutes left in the second quarter.
The offense was able to get something going during the two-minute drill before the half. Freeman hit Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams and Earnest Graham consecutively, then scrambled for a 17-yard gain allowing Graham to punch it in from two yards out.
Before that, Freeman's one highlight was a dump pass to LeGarrette Blount who turned it into a 52-yard gain. However, that was more Blount making something out of nothing than Freeman concocting a great play.
The Offensive Line
Starting right tackle Jeremy Trueblood was terrorized by outside linebacker Cameron Wake throughout the first quarter, but he's not the only one that struggled to protect Freeman.
Although the offensive line didn't surrender a sack, Freeman spent much of the first half getting hit with little time to throw. The starters struggled against New England's 3-4 defense and it appears offensive line coach Pat Morris made few adjustments to Miami's 3-4 defensive style.
The apparent battle between James Lee and Trueblood is supposed to be over, but Buccaneer fans ought to be uncomfortable with whoever lines up on the right side.
Running lanes were few and far between with barely a push for Blount to get through.
Peter Aiken/Getty Images
The Buccaneer's secondary made Henne look like Dan Marino, allowing him to go 10-of-13 for 175 yards and a touchdown.
E.J. Biggers seemed to be the person Henne enjoyed throwing at, hitting a striding Brandon Marshall who caught a perfect ball over Biggers en route to Miami's first score in the first quarter.
Thank goodness NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has decided not to suspend starting cornerback Aqib Talib for any games during the 2011 NFL season because if Biggers covers Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson the way he handled Marshall, it would have been a long game.
Biggers did have a big play forcing Marshall to fumble in the second quarter, but that was only after Biggers was beaten on the play and missed the tackle.
Myron Lewis got in on the action too, committing an obvious pass interference penalty against Marshall at the six-minute mark.
If this is how the secondary is going to compete against elite wide receivers, Marques Colston, Roddy White, and Andre Johnson will have a field day.
Marshall abused the Buccaneer's secondary, but absolutely embarrassed linebacker Quincy Black.
While in pursuit of the streaking Marshall, Black reached out to tackle him only to get a massive stiff-arm to the face.
Black fell belly-first and Marshall jogged into the end zone for the Dolphins.
With only two tackles during the first two quarters, Black was once again found out of position throughout the game and struggled to get off of blockers.
On 2nd and 15, Henne was able to float a perfect pass directly over Black to tight end Anthony Fasano for a 27-yard gain and first down.
15 for 135 yards. Need I say more?