The Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off in a Saturday night Preseason Week 1 contest to kickoff the start of their respective 2022 campaigns. Given this was the first preseason game, both teams sat many of their starters, allowing the depth players the opportunity to shine.
The game was a typical first preseason game, with some players making impact plays, but the majority of the game was an up-and-down affair. It looked like a game featuring depth players trying to make an impression on the coaches, trying to earn a roster spot when the regular season rolls around.
Dolphins 26 - Buccaneers 24
First Quarter Reactions
First, the NFL has to fix the NFL+ app. It is frustrating that it does not start at the listed time. I get it they are trying to only show the game itself, but if you list the game as a 7:30 p.m. game, you should have the app go live not later than 7:30. You should probably go live a little before that, but that would be a bonus. You cannot have it wait until 7:40 to go live and have the opening kickoff and first offensive play missed. Not with all the hype and advertising you have been doing as you start this new system. NFL GamePass streamed live preseason games and did not have these issues. This has to be fixed.
As for on the field, the Dolphins defense came out on fire to start the quarter. The Buccaneers gained seven yards on two plays, but a Blaine Gabbert scramble was negated by a 10-yard holding penalty and a screen pass to Giovanni Bernard was stopped for a four-yard loss. Tampa Bay went three-and-out with a net loss of six yards.
Jaelan Phillips sticks out on the defense. Whatever his career becomes, his body looks like Jason Taylor. He is that long, lanky, fast edge rusher just abusing tackles.
Skylar Thompson started at quarterback for Miami, with Tua Tagovailoa not available for the game and Teddy Bridgewater serving as an emergency quarterback only. He looked confident in the pocket, throwing for 31 yards on the drive, but losing six yards on a sack, leading to a Miami field goal. Dolphins 3-0.
Tight end Mike Gesicki has had a quiet training camp thus far, but he of course caught the first pass for a 13-yard gain. He is one of the few key starters to be on the field tonight, but he probably will not play long. The coaches have been trying to focus on Gesicki’s blocking ability, but he made an early appearance in the passing game tonight.
The defense did not have as much success in the second Buccaneers' possession. Gabbert was able to attack the Dolphins’ secondary, picking up decent chunks of yards across the field. The drive ended with a Gabbert pass to Jaelon Darden for 23 yards on an in cut, leading to a score and the Buccaneers took the lead. Buccaneers 7-3.
Miami’s second offensive drive was a short one. After Thompson was able to find Cedric Wilson for 15 yards, running back Salvon Ahmed was able to pick up three yards on the ground, then caught a pass for one yard. After a deep incompletion, the first quarter ended with the Dolphins facing a 4th-and-6.
Second Quarter Reactions
The quarter opened with Miami punting. Buccaneers returning Deven Thompkins nearly broke the return, but Miami rookie linebacker Channing Tindall was able to pull him down just before his dancing opened the field.
The Buccaneers pulled Gabbert and replaced him with Kyle Trask at quarterback for the next drive. It did not impact the momentum of the game, with Trask and running back Ke’Shaun Vaugn carving up the Miami defense. The linebackers struggled both with stopping the run and with covering Vaugn in the passing game. He ultimately punched it in on a one-yard run to cap a 15-play, 86-yard drive in which Miami’s defense seemed confused. Buccaneers 14-3.
Lynn Bowden, Jr., returned the kick 26 yards and looked fast on the return. If he can establish himself as a return threat, he could earn himself a depth wide receiver role. Thompson found Trent Sherfield for 33 yards to start the drive, but nothing much happened after that. The Dolphins settled for a 52-yard field goal from Jason Sanders, reinforcing that it is an even-numbered year and the Dolphins kicker should have a great season. Buccaneers 14-6.
Miami’s defense was able to step up as the 2-minute warning arrived. As Trask looked toward Rachaad White for a screen pass, Elijah Campbell somehow went to make the tackle, found the ball between his legs as he was on his back and pulled in the interception.
Six seconds later, Thompson found a wide-open Bowden in the back of the endzone for the 22-yard touchdown. Buccaneers 14-13.
Then 29 seconds later, Darrius Hodge sacked Trask, forcing a fumble. Sam Eguavoen scooped up the loose back and took it back for the touchdown. Dolphins 20-14.
The Buccaneers started deep in their own territory and were able to move from their own seven-yard line out to their 21, but, after a Miami timeout, they were forced to punt, with Preston Williams running out of bounds for no gain and six seconds on the clock.
The Dolphins ran Myles Gaskin for five yards to end the half.
Dolphins 20 - Buccaneers 14
19 plays; 38 plays
6 first downs; 12 first downs
109 yards; 187 yards
5.7 yards per play; 4.9 yards per play
106 yards passing; 144 yards passing
3 yards rushing; 43 yards rushing
0-for-1 redzone; 1-for-1 redzoned
1 penalty for 5 yards; 2 penalties for 16 yards
0 turnovers; 2 turnovers
11:09 possession; 18:51 possession
Skylar Thompson - 10 for 12, 122 yards, TD, 136.8 passer rating
Myles Gaskin - 1 rush, 5 yards
Salvon Ahmed - 2 rush, 0 yards, 1 rec, 1 yard
Sony Michel - 2 rush, -2 yards, 1 rec, 4 yards
Trent Sherfield - 1 rec, 33 yards
Cedrick Wilson, Jr. - 3 rec, 29 yards
Lynn Bowden, Jr. - 1 rec, 22 yards, TD, 1 kick return, 26 yards
Tanner Conner - 2 rec, 20 yards
Mike Gesicki - 1 rec, 13 yards
D’Angelo Ross - 5 tackles
Duke Riley - 5 tackles
John Jenkins - 4 tackles
Benito Jones - 3 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Sam Eguavoen - 3 tackles, fumble recovery, TD
Quincy Wilson - 2 tackles
Cameron Goode - 2 tackles
Brandon Jones - 2 tackles
Noah Igbinoghene - 2 tackles
Channing Tindall - 2 tackles
Ben Stille - 2 tackles
Raekwon Davis - 2 tackles
Darius Hodge - 1 tackle, sack, forced fumble
Brennan Scarlett - 1 tackle
Keion Crossen - 1 tackle, pass defensed
Andrew Van Ginkel - 1 tackle
Porter Gustin - 1 tackle
Verone McKinley III - 1 tackle
Eric Rowe - 1 tackle
Elijah Campbell - 1 tackle, 2 passes defensed, INT
Preston Williams - 2 punt returns, 6.5 yard average
Jason Sanders - 2 for 2 FGs, long 52, 2/2 Extra Points
Sterling Hofrichter - 1 punt, 47 yards, 1 in 20
The Dolphins' defense created two turnovers, but they have also allowed Trask to pick them apart. They need to tighten it up in the second half. The offense has been up and down, and particularly down when it comes to the running game. Three yards rushing in the first half is not acceptable.
Third Quarter Reactions
The Dolphins started the second half with the ball at the 40-yard line after a kickoff out of bounds. Thompson again found Bowden wide open down the field, this time for a 29-yard gian. Myles Gaskin broke a 21-yard run on 2nd-and-6 to set up a first and goal; if Gaskin is your fourth runner - and that appears to be where he is on the depth chart right now as Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Sony Michel also compete for the starting position - your team is doing well at the position. The drive would stall shortly thereafter, with Sanders converting his third field goal to extend Miami’s lead. Dolphins 23-14.
After the kickoff, the Buccaneers went back to Trask to start picking up chunks of yardage. He connected with tight end JJ Howland for 29 yards, to set up the Buccaneers offense at the Miami 30-yard line. A few plays later, Trask found wide receiver Jerreth Sterns for a 19-yard touchdown. Miami’s defense allowed too much space during the drive, and they have to tighten up if they are going to come away with this win. Dolphins 23-21.
The offense did the defense no favors on their next possession. Two incomplete passes on either side of a Thompson pass to tight end Tanner Conner for five yards led to a three-and-out punt from the Dolphins.
Tampa Bay started their next drive at their own 27-yard line, and the Dolphins' defense held them to just 27 gained yards on the possession. A 19-yard pass from Trask to Kaylon Geiger highlighted the drive before a 55-yard field goal from Jose Borregales gave the Buccaneers the lead. Buccaneers 24-23.
Miami’s offense again did nothing, with Thompson scrambling for three yards on first down, finding Mohamed Sanu for five yards, then Thompson running for one yard. Miami punted after the three-and-out. The offense has no rhythm right now and Thompson, for as well as he has seemed to play, is not getting the results he would want. His passer rating has moved from 136.8 at halftime to 117.2 now, and, unless something changes in the fourth quarter, it is going to continue to fall.
Trask again started picking up chunk yards with a 26-yard pass to Geiger on a 2nd-and-8 play, before a loss from Kenjon Barner for four yards pushed the Buccaneers back Trask threw to Sterns for five yards as the quarter ended, bringing up a 3rd-and-9.
Fourth Quarter Reactions
Trask threw to Howland for five yards, leading to a punt at the start of the quarter.
The Dolphins started their drive at their own five-yard line after a 43-yard punt. Following a one-yard run from Gerrid Doaks, Thompson was able to find Sanu for eight yards, then Doks picked up three yards. Now out of the shadow of the goal posts, Miami’s offense Thompson was able to find Erik Ezukanma for 14 yards then Sanu for 26 yards. Thompson then picked up 21 yards on a scramble, sliding down at the Buccaneers' 21-yard line. ZaQuandre White lost five yards before Thompson attempted to throw away the pass and nearly had it picked off.
The Dolphins' defense came to play on the next possession, stuffing Barner after one yard, then stopping Bug Howard for a six-yard reception. On 3rd-and-3, the Dolphins defense burst through the line, with Deandre Johnson and Owen Carney meeting at Trask for the sack. Tampa Bay was forced to punt on the three-and-out, with Bowden making a nice move and returning the kick 19 yards to set up the Dolphins at their own 47-yard line. Two incomplete passes around a four-yard pass from Thompson to Ezukanma for four yards forced Miami to punt after the three-and-out possession.
Tampa Bay turned to Barner to start the drive, though a 32-yard first-down gain was negated by an offensive holding penalty. Barner then picked up 11 yards on 1st-and-12, then gained two yards on the 2nd-and-1. Trask threw for six yards to Geiger before a sack was negated by a defensive holding penalty and gave the Buccaneers a first down. Trask threw to Barner for four yards, only to have that negated on the next play when cornerback Trill Williams stopped Deven Thompkins for a five-yard loss on a screen pass. A holding penalty on the next play backed the Buccaneers into a 3rd-and-21 situation, with two passes from Trask picking up 29 yards and giving them a new life. Trask continued to find chunks of yards, finding Thompkins three plays later for 16 yards. After a spike at the Miami 31-yard line, Barner picked up no yards as the Buccaneers ran the clock to three seconds remaining.
The 49-yard field goal attempt hit the upright and fell no good, giving Miami a 26-24 win.
Post Game Reactions
I know this probably will be the most discussed part of this article, but I do not know what to do with Thompson. I do not feel like he is a slam dunk to make the roster, but I do think he could be grabbed off waivers if Miami tries to put him on the practice squad. He definitely has the potential to serve as the Dolphins' backup. Can Miami keep three quarterbacks on the roster?
Yes, this was the preseason and the starters were not in the game much if at all, but the Dolphins’ defense needs to tighten up. I know they were not showing all the blitzes and all the moves they could make, but just individual play needs to be better.
Overall, this was the first preseason game. There is not a lot riding on this, but there are plenty of things that can be learned from today’s contest. Now the Dolphins need to start working the film and figuring out what went well and what needs to be improved ahead of next week’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders.