The third preseason game is usually a dress rehearsal for the regular season as the starters see the most time of the preseason, and most likely won't see any time in the last game. With cuts looming on Tuesday it puts a lot of pressure on the backups to make some plays and show the coaching staff that they belong on the roster. While the backups are trying to stay the starters are trying to showcase how good they will be in the upcoming season. The game had its ups and downs for the Bucs and while they won the game, there are still some things that they need to fix and do it quickly.
The starting offense has definitely made strides every week and is looking more impressive as the games go on, but who is going to be the number 2 wide out? Stovall had the job after camp, but lost it to David Boston without playing a snap in a game. After winning the number 2 job, Boston was pulled over for DUI and Ike Hilliard got the start as the number 2 wide out against Miami. Hilliard has had a good a camp and has always been a steady wide receiver in this league, but he lacks that breakout quality that you would want from your number 2 wide out. Clayton had a nice game against Miami, but he did have a key drop in one of the Bucs drives that led to a FG instead of a touchdown. Boston has looked the most impressive and with the Bucs needing to win this year to save Gruden's job, I think that Boston will be that number two wide out when the season starts.
The starting offensive line did a very good job of pass protecting and keeping a pocket open for Jeff Garcia. Garcia had all day at times to throw the ball and when he did have to tuck it and run it was due to the receivers being well covered and not a break down in the offensive line. The touchdown throw to Galloway in the second quarter was setup by great protection by the offensive line. The line gave Garcia all day to sit back and wait for Galloway to make something happen after the play broke down. The offensive line did do a nice job of opening holes for the running game as well as Cadillac Williams had his best preseason of his career. While the starters played well on the offensive line, the backups did have their struggles. Donald Penn who came in for Jeremy Trueblood got beat of the line the first play he was in and it led to the lineman picking off Jeff Garcia. Later the Dolphins lineman blew right past Penn again and sacked McCown. It looks like the Bucs starting line is going to be solid, but the depth on the line is simply not there.
The defense started the game out very strong with a great run stuff on the first play and than an interception that was returned for a TD by Cato June, after a great first drive the Bucs simply could not get off the field. The Buc defense had some great stops and good coverage, but the Dolphins seemed to make the plays on third and fourth down to keep the drive going. The Bucs got ran over on some runs plays right up the middle, and they still are not getting any sort of pass rush up the middle. Jovan Haye was basically non existent in the game and the Bucs should really look at moving Kevin Carter in to the under tackle position to get that pressure going. Gaines Adams was once again manhandled for most of the game. Adams did get some pressure on the outside, but more often than not the tackle would just use his power to move Adams back. Adams is not going to be ready to start any time soon and really needs to develop a power rush. Alan Zemaitis and Sammy Davis struggled in pass coverage and tackling while they were in the game. These guys are fighting for a backup spot in the secondary that is getting crowded and they did not do much to impress on Saturday night.
Chris Simms did finally get in the game and played a series. Simms handed the ball off 4 times and had two pass plays. He threw a good ball, but it was dropped and he had nice heads up play to Graham which was called back on an illegal forward pass call. With Bruce Gradkowski having another solid game and McCown still looking good it looks like Chris will end up being the odd man out. You feel for a guy like Chris who gave his all for the team, but it is pretty obvious he won't be on the team very longer.
The Bucs won the game and had some good things that happened, but they still need to shore up some things on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. The run defense needs to get better and the Bucs still need to find someone to cause some havok on the pass rush. On offense they need to stay healthy on that offensive line and they need to figure out who the receivers will be come the start of the season. Don't expect much next week from the starters as its the last preseason game, so they will need to do the fixing in practice.