Even though the Bucs beat the Dolphins, one of their in-state rivals 13-17 the dress rehearsal left more questions then answers. Third-year pro Josh Freeman, who looked razor sharp in training camp has had an inauspicious pre-season completing just 56.5% of his attempts (26 of 46) for 255-yards a far cry from how he finished the 2010 season.
To compound matters has been the inability of the offensive line to protect Freeman and open holes in the running game and give LaGerrette Blount any room to operate.
But what’s even more perplexing is the amount of penalties the line has been flagged for. With a veteran group starting, with the exception of LG Ted Larsen they have got to do a better job with minimizing mental mistakes.
Frank Okam – The manbeast was a one man wrecking crew – consistently forcing the action and totally squashed the run game of the Dolphins. While he didn’t have gaudy stats he was the key cog as the Bucs defense stymied the Dolphins ground game in the first half, allowing 2-yards on 9 carries and for the game allowed 22-yards on 17 carries for a 1.3 yards per carry average.
George Johnson – The former Rutgers standout has been one of the more consistent performers on defense this pre-season. With a sack in each of the Bucs pre-season games he’s clearly sending a message, that’s he wants a spot on the 53-man roster.
Michael Bennett – Bennett had a monster of a game. Recording 1 sack, 3 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 quarterback hit. He showed good get off, closing burst and recognition skills as he repeatedly was playing in the backfield.
Pass Rush / Run Defense – The Bucs young front four continues to show improvement in both phases. After being torched on the ground last week for 200-yards, with coaching they corrected a few things and stood tall this week.
Offensive line – Not sure how many times one can continue to beat a dead horse before it becomes a broken record, but if there’s one unit that needs to get it together, it’s the offensive line. From the starters to the backups, this pre-season they have left a lot to be desired. There’s no doubt that their inability to perform at a high level will hold the offense back.
Penalties – Most of the penalties thus far have been the mental kind, from false starts, holding, and illegal formations to the coaching staffs blunder of trying to challenge a scoring play which is automatically reviewed this season and cost the Bucs a 15-yards.