Another week and some more progress made on the offensive side of the ball. Here are my thoughts on Saturday night's game. I'll be honest, though. They are going to be a bit briefer than usual, as I was doing a fantasy football draft during the game.
His play is continuing to be the talk of the town. Saturday night, Beck continued to grow and show progress, going 11 of 22 for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns, while narrowly failing to lead the Dolphins to yet another comeback victory. And yes, it's preseason, but his 104 passer rating is still impressive. The main thing about Beck is how effortlessly he throws the ball. His pass to Derek Hagan was a thing of beauty. And he looks so calm and poised behind center. However, he still made some poor throws and was a little inaccurate with his passes, probably due to the fact that the offensive line he was playing behind was constantly getting shoved back. Like Cam said after the game, he's still not ready yet and he needs to continue to grow and progress. But every time I see Beck play, I can't help but think he's going to be a star in this league.
Trent certainly looked better in this game. He was accurate and moved around the pocket pretty well. The interception was not his fault, so don't pay attention to that. On the one long, 18 play drive that he orchestrated, Green was 7 for 9. He was decisive, made good reads, and got the ball out quickly, which is a must behind this line. Hopefully, this performance was a sign of things to come from Green. And I suspect that as he gets more comfortable in the offense and with his teammates, he'll only get better.
The Offensive Line
The first team line looked better and is showing improvement, but it still has a long way to go. Vernon Carey is clearly a better run blocker than pass blocker, but is certainly the team's best lineman. On the other side, Anthony Alabi still looks slow, in my opinion, causing him to react too late and get beat. But with that said, the line as a whole played pretty well protecting the quarterback, though Green did have to move around. As for their run blocking, they still need to improve greatly. It's not good that nearly 50% of the time, a defender is able to get to Ronnie Brown in the backfield. Hopefully, in the next 2 weeks, they can get things situated for the regular season. But it's clear that Hudson Houck has a lot of work to do with this group.
So we finally ot a shot to see this kid on the field and with the ball in his hands. And he didn't disappointed. He caught the ball well and showed the ability to make defenders miss. We also got a clue on how Booker is likely going to be used in the regular season, as he caught 6 balls while only rushing it once. Look for that trend to continue in the regular season, as the knock on Booker has always been his ability to run between the tackles. However, his ability to score every time he touches the ball will likely mean he'll see a decent amount of touches per game.
I know I sound like a broken record, but what else can be said other than the offense as a whole continue to shows progress every week. Enough progress, in fact, that I'm beginning to get my hopes up for the regular season (always a dangerous thing with this team as a let-down is almost certain). But how can I help it? The passing game is coming around. Ted Ginn is looking like he's going to be more of a factor in the passing game than many thought. And you just have to love the play calling of Cam Cameron. He mixes up the run and pass nicely. He tries to get everyone involved. And who can forget the play of the night: the "Statue of Liberty" play (which can be seen at the bottom of this article) that Cam called following Matt Roth's impressive interception. The best part is, Cam called that play "vanilla" after the game. If that is vanilla, I can't wait to see what Cam has in store for this offense in the regular season.
The defense played pretty well again, though it's still hard to get a real feel for this unit since Jason Taylor and Zach Thomas saw just minimal action. One trend I did notice once JT and Zach were out of the game is that the QB seemed to have all day to throw the ball, causing the secondary to break down. This was certainly case when, on 3rd and 11, Jeff Garcia had all day to find Joey Galloway in the back of the endzone. Plays like that one I pin on the line's inability to get pressure on the QB rather than blaming it on the secondary. But that one play also highlights another defensive issue that concerns me a little. If I counted correctly, the Bucs were 6 for 9 on 3rd downs in the first half. This can't happen in the regular season. The defense needs to be able to get off the field. Keep an eye on this when the regular season rolls around.
Thanks to Otis Santiago for e-mailing me the link to the above clip. Man, did Trent Green sell that play or what? Good stuff!