Plenty of good story-lines in tonight’s Buccaneers preseason game against the Dolphins.

By: Chris King

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It’s week 1 of the full slate of NFL preseason games and that brings us an interconference clash between teams from the Sunshine State. The Miami Dolphins are on the road as they make the in-state trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday night.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hoping TB12 Leads to Success

Tampa Bay finished last season 13-4 and won the NFC South while finishing second in the conference. The Buccaneers were unable to defend their Super Bowl crown as they were knocked off by the Rams in the NFC Divisional Round at home. Tom Brady announced his retirement during the offseason, only to unretire about six weeks later, so he’ll be back. The Buccaneers did suffer some hits in the offseason as both starting guards from a season ago are gone: Ali Marpet retired while Alex Cappa left as a free agent. Ryan Jensen suffered a knee injury during training camp and could miss significant time. Their top two tight ends from a season ago are gone as well as Rob Gronkowski (retired) and O.J. Howard (Buffalo) have left the organization. On the defensive line, Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul are both gone from last year as well, so they have some spots to patch up heading into the season. Running back Ronald Jones Jr. left as well, leaving Leonard Fournette as the unchallenged #1 back. Tampa Bay did sign Russell Gage and Julio Jones to bolster the receiver room, picked up guard Shaq Mason in a trade with the Patriots and brought in safety Logan Ryan to replace Jordan Whitehead. Kyle Rudolph steps in as a veteran tight end.

Last season, the Buccaneers led the league with an average of 307.6 yards per contest through the air and 26th in the league in rushing offense with 98.4 yards per contest on the ground. Tampa Bay was second in the league in scoring offense as they average 30.1 points per game while they were ranked 5th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 20.8 points per contest. Tom Brady completed 485 of 719 passes for 5,316 yards with 43 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. Blaine Gabbert hit seven of 11 for 67 yards in mop-up duty. Leonard Fournette led the ground game with 180 carries for 812 yards plus eight scores. Ke’Shawn Vaughn (36 carries, 180 yards, two TD) was next in line in the ground game. In the passing game, Chris Godwin led the team with 98 receptions for 1,103 yards and five scores last season. Mike Evans (74 grabs, 1035 yards, 14 TD), Fournette (69 grabs, 454 yards, two TD) and Tyler Johnson (36 catches, 360 yards) were solid targets last season. Ryan Succop connected on 56 of 59 extra points and 25 of 30 field goal attempts with a long of 48.

We know Brady won’t see the field here, which means Gabbert, Kyle Trask and Ryan Griffin will be taking snaps. This will be a prime opportunity for Trask to show that he could be the QB of the future for the team. Look for Tyler Johnson to get a chance to make an impact as he tries to secure a roster spot after the acquisitions of Gage and Jones. Jake Camarda gets first crack at the punting job after being drafted while Jose Borregales will be battling with Succop for the kicking job.

Miami finished last season 9-8 thanks to a second half surge against a weak slate but missed the postseason as they were third in the AFC East. Tampa Bay won the NFC South with a 13-4 record only to be upended 30-27 in the NFC Divisional Round by the Rams, who went on to win the Super Bowl. The Dolphins own a 17-15 advantage in the all-time preseason head-to-head series though the Buccaneers have won three straight. That includes a 16-14 win on the road in the most recent meeting on August 16, 2019.

Miami Dolphins Look to See Major Shuffling Pay Dividends in 2022

Miami started last season 1-7 before winning eight of their last nine games to wind up with a 9-8 record. That wasn’t good enough to reach the postseason and to say there was upheaval in the organization after the season is an understatement. Brian Flores was fired, then filed a class-action lawsuit against the NFL based on racial discrimination. In his place is former 49ers’ offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel. The Dolphins also made moves at the skill positions on the offensive side of the ball as they signed running backs Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel. They added Cedrick Wilson to the receiving corps via free agency and traded for Tyreek Hill. To bolster the offensive line, Miami brought in tackle Terron Armstead and guard Connor Williams. Teddy Bridgewater steps in to be the #2 QB behind Tua Tagovailoa. Miami was docked their first-round pick in 2023 and their third-round selection in 2024 for tampering with Tom Brady and Sean Payton.

Last season, the Dolphins were 17th in the league in passing offense as they average 214.8 yards per contest. The Dolphins were just 30th in rushing offense as they averaged 92.2 yards per game on the ground. Miami was 22nd in the league in scoring offense as they put up 20.1 points per game. The Dolphins were 16th in scoring defense as they give up an aver

age of 21.9 points a contest. Tua Tagovailoa was 263 of 388 for 2,653 yards with 16 touchdowns against 10 interceptions while adding 128 yards plus three scores on the ground. The run game was problematic as Myles Gaskin was the leading rusher with 173 carries for 612 yards plus three scores. Malcolm Brown (33 carries, 125 yards, TD) and Savion Ahmed (54 carries, 149 yards) saw their share of action as well. In the passing game, Jaylen Waddle led the team with 104 receptions for 1,015 yards and six scores this season. Tight ends Mike Gesicki (73 grabs, 780 yards, two TD) and Durham Smythe (34 grabs, 357 yards), will be looked at to contribute alongside Hill and Wilson. Jason Sanders hit 34 of 35 extra point attempts and 23 of 31 field goal attempts with a long of 51 last season.

Miami is going to play at least some starters. Don’t expect to see Waddle or Hill though you could see Tagovailoa for a series or so along with most of the offensive line. The Dolphins likely won’t play either of their starting corners either, giving plenty of reps to guys trying to make an impact going forward.

Like with most opening week preseason games, don’t expect to see many name players for very long, if at all, for either team. Miami might give some of their starters a few reps mainly because of the amount of roster overhaul from a season ago. It’s going to take time to get that chemistry to gel with so many new faces, not to mention a new coach. Tampa Bay has a new coach in Todd Bowles but he was on Bruce Arians’ staff. There are so many returning pieces for the Buccaneers that it’s a matter of avoiding injury going forward, especially after the Jensen injury. Give the slight edge to the Buccaneers thanks to continuity: take the points and the hosts here.

Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1.5

Written By Chris King , “Chris King”

Chris King has been immersed in the world of professional and collegiate sports for more than three decades. Whether it’s playing pickup games or being involved in organized sports to being a fan, he’s checked all the boxes. From the NFL to arena football, the NHL to the KHL, the NBA to the WNBA to college hoops, and even MLB to the KBO.  If it’s out there, he’s covered it and bet on it as well, as Chris has been an expert bettor in his career.  Before joining Winners and Whiners back in 2015, his work appeared around the internet and in print. He’s written books for Ruckus Books about college basketball, the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, golf, and the World Cup. If you’re looking for the inside track on hitting a winner, do yourself a favor and read what Chris has to say.