The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2012 Preseason schedule has been released and it could not have been better in gauging the Bucs new identity.
First, here is the schedule from Buccaneers.com:
|Week 1 (Aug. 9-13)||at Miami||Miami leads 16-10|
|Week 2 (Aug. 16-20)||TENNESSEE||Tampa Bay leads 6-2|
|Week 3 (Aug. 23-26)||NEW ENGLAND||Tampa Bay leads 7-2|
|Week 4 (Sept. 29-30)||at Washington||Washington leads 6-5|
What stands out most about the new schedule is how the games will provide challenges against the units most changed this season.
Against the New England Patriots, Eric Wright, Ronde Barber and possibly Morris Claiborne will have the opportunity to play against one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. With the addition of Brandon Lloyd, the Patriots will have both Lloyd and Wes Welker testing the new look Bucs secondary. The match up will give coach Greg Schiano and his staff a chance to look at how their defensive scheme compares to last year’s AFC Champions. There is nothing better for a new administration that to test their theories and schemes against the best in order to make changes and adapt before the regular season.
Against the Washington Redskins, the Bucs front seven will have the opportunity to face a mobile quarterback in Robert Griffin III. As with the Patriots, the secondary will also have their hands full, offering the most complete challenge for the defense. The Redskins added Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan through free agency, adding to an attack which already has Santana Moss. There is always the added dimension of coach Mike Shanahan’s run prowess, which gives the Bucs possibly the most complete look at the defense before heading into the regular season.
In weeks one and two, the Bucs face two of what may be the league’s premiere running backs. Reggie Bush had a career year rushing in 2011 and though Chris Johnson was far from himself, it is likely he will return to his elite status this season. It will test the Buccaneers capabilities against running teams, allowing the team to gauge their linebackers performance. The Bucs are expected to draft a linebacker later this month, giving them ample opportunity to see what they have in their selection.
Offensively, Legarrette Blount and any additions at running back will be tested immediately by the Miami Dolphin’s 3rd ranked rush defense from last season. Josh Freeman will also have plenty of opportunity to take new wide receiver Vincent Jackson out for a spin. The Bucs will not face a secondary ranked better than 12th last season, so while it won’t provide great challenge, it will allow the pass offense to work on developing their new scheme. Freeman benefits most after pushing too hard last season by allowing him time to progress and get comfortable before the regular season starts.
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