The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off the Greg Schiano era with a dominant 20-7 victory over the Miami Dolphins in their preseason opener on Friday night.
Buccaneers101.com has gone back over the game and here are some of the highlights from the offense:
A slimmed-down Josh Freeman looked impressive during his only drive of the night behind a smash mouth running game. The Bucs' starting QB looked poised in the pocket and delivered the ball with accuracy. Freeman completed 4-of-5 passes for 41 yards.
His backup, Dan Orlovsky, looked just as good. He stood tall in the pocket and went downfield a couple of times to newcomer Tiquan Underwood. Orvlovsky delivered a pinpoint deep ball to Underwood for a 44-yard gain in the first quarter to set up Tampa Bay's second score. He finished a perfect 8-of-8 for 91 yards.
Third-stringer Brett Ratliff played most of the second half and showed some ability. He completed 6-of-11 attempts for 51 yards. Nothing spectacular and if he doesn't show that he is worth holding on to then Tampa Bay may only keep two quarterbacks
These guys were the stars of the night. LeGarrette Blount was playing like his job depended on it and it showed. He ran with purpose, quickness, and displayed some good vision. Blount also converted a fourth-and-goal situation into a touchdown, which had been a weakness of his during his first two seasons in Tampa Bay. He finished with 30 yards on seven carries.
Rookie first-round pick Doug Martin also ran the ball well in his NFL debut and kept the pressure on Blount. He had seven carries for 21 yards with a long of 10 where he was upended on the play but flipped over and kept running for a first down. Martin also scored a 2-yard TD, and caught a pass for seven yards.
Fellow rookie Michael Smith struggled to ran the ball (nine carries for 10 yards) but he was electric in the return game. Smith had a returns of 34 and 74 yards, the latter of which he broke off a horsecollar tackle and raced down field before being eventually running out of gas.
Vincent Jackson didn't catch a pass but his presence seemed to help Mike Williams, who caught a pass for 18 yards on the opening drive to set up Blount's score.
Underwood was perhaps the MVP of the game with his stellar performance. He snagged three catches for 76 yards, all of which resulted in first downs for Tampa Bay. Underwood is having a great training camp and seems to have earned a spot on the roster. He may even end up as the No. 3 receiver on the Bucs.
No other receiver caught more than one pass. The unit did a good job blocking on running plays and there weren't too many missed opportunities.
Dallas Clark didn't play and Luke Stocker took his place in the starting lineup. He blocked well when in the lineup and made a huge catch on third down on Tampa Bay's opening drive. Stocker caught a bullet in between two defenders to pick up 14 yards and a first down.
Zack Pianalto and rookie Drake Dunsmore each caught a short pass. They weren't much of a factor in the passing game, but did their jobs in the run game.
The first unit, with Demar Dotson subbing in for an injured Donald Penn, looked great. They were strong at the point of attack and exerted their power against Miami's defensive line. The Bucs ran four straight times in the red zone on their opening drive and eventually got close enough for Blount to punch it in for a touchdown. It was noticable how strong Tampa Bay's interior line was with Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph plowing through linemen.
The second-unit also did a good job near the end zone and got enough of a push for Martin to score from two yards out in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay's quarterbacks weren't under duress much and they were able to stand in the pocket pretty comfortably all night thanks to the boys up front.
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