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Countdown To Kickoff: Tampa Bay At Miami

Posted Aug 24, 2013

Breaking down the Dolphins-Buccaneers matchup.

MIAMI DOLPHINS (1-2) vs. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (0-2)

GAME FACTS

DATE: Saturday, Aug. 24
TIME: 7:30 p.m. ET
SITE: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Fla.
TV: In Miami-Fort Lauderdale, WFOR-TV (CBS 4); in Fort Myers, WBBH-TV (Channel 2); in West Palm Beach, WTVX-TV (Channel 34) and WWHB (Channel 48, Spanish); in Orlando, WRDQ (Channel 27) and WFTV MegaTV (9.2 as well as on digital cable via Comcast channel 209, CenturyLink Channel 10, Cox Cable 118 and Decca Cable channel 717, Spanish).
TV ANNOUNCERS:(Jesse Agler, play-by-play; Bob Griese, analysis; Nat Moore, analysis)
ONLINE: Game available on computer or tablet. Details at dolphins.com/preseasonlive.
TV REPLAY: NFL Network, Sunday, Aug. 25 at 7 a.m. and Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 10 a.m.

THE SERIES (PRESEASON)

SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 16-11
AT MIAMI: Dolphins lead 7-5
AT TAMPA BAY: Dolphins lead 9-5
AT ORLANDO: Buccaneers lead 1-0
LAST MEETING: 2012 at Miami; Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 7
HISTORY LESSON: If it seems as though these teams meet every year in the preseason, it’s because they pretty much do. This will mark the 13th consecutive year the teams have faced each other in the preseason, a streak that started in 2000. Back in 1996, the Dolphins’ four-game preseason schedule actually included two games against the Buccaneers, one at Miami in the opener and the other at Tampa Bay in the finale.
SERIES TREND: The Dolphins haven’t been able to put up big offensive numbers against the Buccaneers in recent years, scoring 13 points or less in each of the teams’ last five preseason meetings. It should be pointed out, though, that the only touchdown the Dolphins scored in last year’s meeting came courtesy of a touchdown pass by Ryan Tannehill in his first game as an NFL player.

SCOUTING REPORT

TAMPA BAY’S RECORD: 0-2 in 2013 preseason; 7-9 in 2012 regular season
LAST GAME: Lost 25-21 at New England
OVERVIEW: The Buccaneers are looking to continue in 2013 the strides they made last year in Greg Schiano’s first year as head coach. The Buccaneers have a lot of intriguing talent, namely running back Doug Martin, wide receiver Vincent Jackson, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and, of course, new cornerback Darrelle Revis.
NEW FACES: CB Johnthan Banks (draft, 2nd round), QB Mike Glennon (draft, 3rd), DT Akeem Spence (draft, 4th), CB Michael Adams (Arizona), T Gabe Carimi (Chicago), LB Jonathan Casillas (New Orleans), TE Tom Crabtree (Tampa Bay), S Dashon Goldson (San Francisco), RB Peyton Hillis (Kansas City), RB Brian Leonard (Cincinnati), WR Kevin Ogletree (Dallas), CB Darrelle Revis (N.Y. Jets), K Lawrence Tynes (N.Y. Giants)
GONE: DE Michael Bennett (Seattle), CB E.J. Biggers (Washington), LB Quincy Black (released/failed physical), RB LeGarrette Blount (New England), TE Dallas Clark (Baltimore), CB Myron Lewis (released), DT Roy Miller (Jacksonville), T Jeremy Trueblood (Washington), S Ronde Barber (retired), CB Eric Wright (released)
THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON OFFENSE: The Buccaneers made two significant moves in the 2012 offseason and they hardly could have worked out better. They picked up a second first-round pick in the draft to land running back Doug Martin and they spent big money to land wide receiver Vincent Jackson in free agency. Those two quickly became last year one of the most potent running back-receiver combinations in the NFL. Martin took a knee to the head in the second preseason game, so there is a chance he won’t play tonight, but Jackson should be in the lineup.
THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON OFFENSE: The Buccaneers found themselves in playoff contention last year when they stood at 6-4 after 10 games. But they proceeded to lose their next five before winning a meaningless finale against Atlanta, and one big reason for the collapse was the play of quarterback Josh Freeman. Perhaps it was a sign of their concern at the position that the Bucs spent their second pick in the 2013 draft on QB Mike Glennon, a strong-armed passer with inconsistent mechanics.
THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON DEFENSE: Gerald McCoy was the third overall pick in 2010 when he was taken immediately after Detroit selected fellow defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. While Suh became an impact player — albeit a controversial one — right away, McCoy struggled at first. But he really came on last season and was perhaps the biggest reason teams simply couldn’t run against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers led the league in run defense, not only in terms of yards allowed per game but also yards per rushing attempt.
THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON DEFENSE: As good as the Bucs were against the run in 2012, that’s how bad they were against the pass. They were last in the league. The Buccaneers certainly did their best to address that problem in the offseason, as they not only traded for perennial Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis but also signed Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson in free agency. The question now is whether those moves will make a big difference, especially with Revis coming off a torn ACL. The Bucs have been cautious with Revis this summer, and it’s safe to assume he won’t be playing in tonight’s game.
THE BUCCANEERS’ STRENGTH ON SPECIAL TEAMS: The only area of special teams where the Buccaneers had some success last year was field goal kicking thanks to strong-legged Connor Barth, but he’ll miss the entire 2013 season after tearing an Achilles tendon during a charity basketball game in the offseason. If we have to pick something here we’ll go with kickoff returning, simply based on rookie Michael Smith’s 63-yard return against New England nine days ago.
THE BUCCANEERS’ QUESTION MARK ON SPECIAL TEAMS: Tampa Bay ranked in the bottom third in the league in both punt and kickoff coverage in 2012, so they’ll be looking for improvement in both areas. Barth’s replacement, Lawrence Tynes, has been in the NFL a long time but he’s coming off a so-so season with the New York Giants and is now sidelined. That led Tampa Bay to sign former Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell this week. The Bucs are hoping somebody emerges as a dangerous punt returner after their longest return of 2012 was only 39 yards. So Tampa Bay, as you can see, has a lot of question marks on special teams.

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