This is the time of the year when people start compiling lists of things they want to see out of the glorified practice sessions that are the NFL preseason. You guys know that I love the preseason as only during the actual game can you really see who is taking the education received at practice and converting that over to action.
Here in Tampa, we have more questions that many. A few things we don’t wonder:
- Who will be our QB? This is Josh’s team and while he needs to improve on his results from last year, effort has not been a question and nobody doubts his talent.
- Who will be our Offensive line starters? With the exception of Trueblood (who we should actively be trying to upgrade) and Penn’s injury, we know this line. We know them from a personnel position but we are not sure how the new staff will leverage this talented and well paid unit.
- Who will be our #1 WR? Vincent Jackson is a beast. We are all hoping he will rub off on our other WR who have shown talent but can all learn from the work ethic he has already shown in practice.
Now there are other areas where we know who will be lining up but we are unsure of how they will perform. With Aqib Talib allegedly healthy and in a contract year, he should get no better than he is this season. The Bucs went and got Eric Wright to try and shore up the other side as they slid Ronde Barber back to safety, a move that we will not fully grasp until the defensive backfield is truly tested by a solid QB.
Enough lead in. The things I want to see versus the Dolphins:
- Offensive line strength.
Create holes. Control the line. Provide time. All the things that unit is paid to do, they need to do. Offensive line is about attitude. This team is supposed to be about attitude. It wills tart here or it will not start.
- Pound what?
We got the lip service about running the ball and we have the horses to get it done. Who will be most impressive? Martin looks particularly fast in practice but between Blount, Martin, Madu and Smith we really have no idea what we can expect. I look for WAY more stretch plays and toss sweeps because we now have guys that possess the speed to make it to the outside. That ability paired with a desire to work play action off the running game should open up the field for the passing game.
- Under Pressure
We are dangerously thin at defensive line and have some serious deficiencies in pass rush department. Gerald McCoy has to show the talent he has flashed in the past and show it consistently. This is an area we may see some Dominik magic exercised on after some camp cuts provide depth. Like the offensive line above, the defensive line must reestablish the LOS behind the snap. Impose will, control or penetrate gaps and dictate to the offense. This will help protect our young linebackers and allow our secondary to take the risks necessary to get the takeaways the defense needs.
- Our Leader – Josh Freeman
Josh Freeman is the anchor of the offense. All the talent in the world, a great work ethic and now all the tools a QB could want. He must show the decision making necessary to elevate the team.
So much of the offseason has been about a return to fundamentals. Things like blocking and tackling are not just trite concepts of days gone by. Rumor has it, you need to be proficient at both to be successful. The team has been drilled on these basics and now they can prove that they get it. Look for solid tackling, crisp blocking to and through the whistle, high effort level and an intensity that we have not seen in Tampa in many years.
I am looking forward to seeing these guys hit and seeing who rises to the pressure and shines under the lights. What are you looking to see?