Bucs Game Grades

August 13 – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a heartbreaker to the Miami Dolphins in their preseason opener, 17-14. Buccaneer Magazine grades each Bucs' position based on their performance on Monday night.

QUARTERBACKS:

QB Brad Johnson: 2-of-4 for 18 yards. Johnson probably hoped to fair better in his debut as Tampa Bay's starter, but his offensive line allowed him to get sacked three times by Miami, one of which was recovered by the Dolphins and eventually led to a touchdown. In order for Johnson to have success and stay healthy for a full season, his offensive line is going to have to gel.

QB Shaun King: 9-of-17 for 105 yards and one touchdown. King faired well as the Bucs' back-up on Monday night. King was most impressive when he led Tampa Bay's offense down the field 75-yards and finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown strike to WR Karl Williams.

QB Ryan Leaf: 1-of-4 for 4 yards and one interception. Leaf did not fair well against Miami, but he had the same problems Johnson had with protection. Leaf's interception was not entirely his fault. Leaf's pass was thrown a bit hard, but bounced off the hands of two receivers before being intercepted by Miami's rookie CB Jamar Fletcher.

QB Joe Hamilton: 6-of-11 for 68 yards and one touchdown. As he has done all training camp, Hamilton continued to impress on Monday night against Miami. Hamilton engineered what looked to be the game-winning touchdown for the second preseason in a row when he threw 6-yard strike in the corner of the end zone to RB Aaron Stecker to give Tampa Bay a 14-10 lead with 1:09 remaining in the game. Hamilton also used his legs to help move the ball on offense by rushing three times for 26 yards.

GRADE: B-

RUNNING BACKS:

RB Warrick Dunn: Although he only rushed two times, Dunn gained a total of 11 yards and also played a part in the Bucs' passing attack by hauling in two receptions for 18 yards.

RB Aaron Stecker: Stecker saw plenty of action against Miami, carrying the ball 13 times for a total of 36 yards. Stecker, like Dunn, played a part in the passing game. He caught three receptions for 26 yards, including a 6-yard touchdown pass from QB Joe Hamilton late in the fourth quarter.

RB Pepe Pearson: Pearson had 14 rushes for 50 yards. Pearson showed some elusiveness and was only a tackle away from running for a big gain on a few occasions.

*Tampa Bay rushed for 123 yards against Miami on Monday night.

GRADE: B

WIDE RECEIVERS:

WR Karl Williams 3 receptions for 25 yards. Williams had three receptions on the 75-yard drive engineered by QB Shaun King. Williams' third catch of that drive was an 8-yard touchdown.

WR Frank Murphy: 2 receptions for 30 yards. Although Murphy fumbled the ball after his first reception, he made a spectacular catch later in the game against Miami, which resulted in a big gain.

WR Robert Kilow: 2 receptions for 17 yards.

WR Reidel Anthony: 1 catch for 24 yards. Although Anthony only had one catch, it proved to be a huge one for the Buccaneers. Anthony hauled in a 24-yard pass from QB Shaun King on the sideline, but was drilled immediately after the catch by Miami S Trent Gamble. Somehow, Anthony managed to hold onto the ball and his catch contributed to the drive that resulted in a touchdown for Tampa Bay.

FB Rabih Abdullah: 1 catch for 18 yards. Abdullah received some nice blocks up field by his teammates, but also showed some quick moves on his way up the field for a 18-yard gain.

WR Jacquay Nunnally: 1 catch for 7 yards.

WR Alex Willis: 1 catch for 4 yards.

WR Khori Ivy: 0 catches for 0 yards. Ivy had a perfect opportunity to shine for the Buccaneers, but didn't come through when his number was called. Ivy was open in the corner of the end zone when QB Joe Hamilton scrambled with the ball and threw a perfect pass to him, but Ivy could not hold onto the ball.

GRADE: B+

TIGHT ENDS:

TE Dave Moore: 0 catches for 0 yards. Moore picked up where he left off from the Rams game last season. QB Brad Johnson threw a nice pass to Moore in the first quarter, but Moore dropped it.

TE Todd Yoder: 0 catches for 0 yards. Yoder did not catch a pass, but the extra 15-20 lbs. Of bulk he added this offseason has paid off. Yoder's blocking has vastly improved, especially his up the field blocking, where he helped spring Abdullah for an 18-yard gain.

TE Damian Vaughn: 1 catch for 28 yards: Vaughn came up big for the Bucs late in the game when he hauled in a perfect pass from QB Joe Hamilton for a 28-yard gain. Vaughn's catch eventually helped the offense score a touchdown.

GRADE: B-

OFFENSIVE LINE:

LT Kenyatta Walker: Well, Walker is going to face some growing pains, and he certainly experienced some tonight when he lined up against Pro Bowl DE Jason Taylor. Although Walker blocked Taylor out for a good four seconds, Walker could not hold up any longer and allowed Taylor to come in and sack QB Brad Johnson. While in the process of sacking Johnson, Taylor also alertly swatted the ball out of Johnson's hands, which resulted in a recovered fumble for Miami. Walker played into the third quarter and faired well for his first game out.

RG Cosey Coleman: Like Walker, Coleman struggled against Miami's first-team defense. Walker and Coleman's struggles resulted in three quarterback sacks for the Dolphins in one quarter of play.

C Leon Hires: Tampa Bay was moving the football deep into Miami territory, but Hires snapped the ball over QB Joe Hamilton's head, resulting in a turnover.

RT DeMarcus Curry: Curry had two false start penalties against Miami on Monday night.

Tampa Bay allowed four quarterback sacks on Monday night against Miami.

GRADE: C-

DEFENSIVE LINE:

DT Anthony "Booger" McFarland: McFarland's run defense appears to have reached a new level. McFarland was impressive against Miami, recording two tackles one drive at the line of scrimmage.

DE RON WARNER: Warner aided LB Marq Cerqua in recording a quarterback sack against Miami.

DE Chartric Darby: Darby recovered a Miami RB Autry Denson fumble to end a drive deep in Tampa Bay's territory.

*Tampa Bay held Miami to 62 yards rushing on Monday night.

GRADE: B+

LINEBACKERS:

OLB Marq Cerqua: Cerqua recorded two sacks against Miami.

MLB Jamie Duncan: Duncan has had Nate Webster pushing him for his starting job, but Duncan came up big on a goal line stuff on second down in the first half.

MLB Nate Webster: Webster added a run stuff of his own when he blew up Miami's running back on a third and 1 for no gain. Miami was forced to punt. Webster later contributed big by crushing Miami RB Autry Denson, which caused him to fumble and allowed Tampa Bay's DE Chartric Darby to recover the football.

LB Jeff Gooch: Gooch made a huge play by tackling WR Orande Gadsden from behind, which caused Gadsden to fumble and gave Tampa Bay the ball back in the first half.

*Tampa Bay recorded three quarterback sacks against Miami on Monday night.

GRADE: B+

SECONDARY:

CB Brian Kelly: Although he had a chance for an interception in the first half and did not come through with one, Kelly came up big for Tampa Bay on Monday night in other ways. Kelly stuffed Miami's running back on a third down and 1 at the line of scrimmage and did not allow the Dolphins to score. On the very next play, Miami attempted a field goal, but K Orlindo Mare missed wide left. Kelly also came up big by recovering a fumble caused by LB Jeff Gooch in the first half.

*Tampa Bay held Miami to 224 yards passing on Monday night.

S Eric Vance: Vance was the goat of Monday night's contest. With nine second remaining in the fourth quarter and the Buccaneers leading the Dolphins, 14-10, QB Mike Quinn threw up a 43-yard pass for grabs in the end zone. Vance tipped the pass before it fell into the hands of WR Robert Baker for the game-winning score. Vance went for the interception instead of just knocking the ball away.

GRADE: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS:

CB Dwight Smith: Smith recorded an impressive solo tackle on kickoff coverage. Smith also had an impressive kick return, where he ran like the bulls run in Mexico, for a 35-yard return.

WR Robert Kilow: Kilow had the most impressive play of the night on special teams. Kilow fielded a punt and made a nice spin move to avoid a tackle and dashed 41-yards up the field into Miami territory.

P Andrew Bayes: Bayes had a hard time hanging his punts in the air for any length of time.

P Jason Malecki: Malecki did not impress when he had a 30-yard punt against Miami, but he did make up for that poor punt when he pinned the Dolphins down within their own five-yard line with a nice punt.

Both CB Ronde Barber (kickoff) and S David Gibson (punt) made touchdown saving tackles on special teams coverage units against Miami on Monday night.

*Tampa Bay's punters averaged 38.5 yard per punt and punted a total of six times against Miami on Monday night.

GRADE: B


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