Buccaneers vs Dolphins Game Preview
The Sunshine Series features a meeting between Florida’s two oldest NFL teams: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Miami Dolphins. Both teams don’t often meet in the regular season but they meet every preseason with the Bucs winning four of the last five games.
Both teams were a mess last season and are doubtful to improve that much regardless of their upgrades. They’re both bad teams hoping to prove they’re not the worst at the expense of the other.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This team is a mess. Franchise quarterback Jameis Winston has regressed, his receivers are underachieving, and the offensive line is full of holes. If the Bucs once again lose double-digit games, Winston’s seat, along with the entire offensive personnel’s, will be on fire.
The Bucs didn’t address their offence as much as their defence for good reason. They allowed the most yards last season. With the defence patched up, Tampa can at least be slightly better than last year.
As bad as Tampa looks, Miami could be the worst team in the league this coming season. They lost some of their best players both on offence and defence. Their quarterback situation stinks and they made little improvements in the offseason.
At least the weather is nice in Miami and there are other things to do because enjoying a winning football team will not be one of them. Expectations should be low for this team.
Bucs-Dolphins games tend to be low-scoring and when you’re rolling with the backup units, it gets even sloppier. Tampa has more depth on defence but that isn’t saying much as Miami just lacks quality players all around. The Bucs should continue their dominance over Miami in what could be a dreadful game.
Buccaneers vs Dolphins Head-to-Head Records
The Buccaneers lead the series 6-5 through 11 total meetings dating back to 1976, their inaugural season. Miami won 23-20 in what would be the worst season in Buccaneers’ history as they failed to score in five games and became the first NFL team to go 0-14.
Miami won four of their first five meetings but it’s been the other way around in recent meetings. Tampa Bay has turned the tables and has won five of their last six meetings starting in 1997. This doesn’t include Tampa also winning four of their last five preseason games.
The last game Miami won was a two-point win in 2009 in their home stadium. Tampa Bay almost came back to win in the fourth.
Both franchises have won Super Bowls but have combined for only one playoff appearance in the last decade. It looks like both teams have a long way to go to get back to their glory days.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Recent History
The franchise won its first and only Super Bowl in 2002 in what was one of the most lopsided games. Since then, however, they have only made two playoff appearances and lost both games. They haven’t made the postseason since 2007 and have only had three winning seasons since then.
It appeared like things were turning around when they drafted Winston first overall and he led the team to a winning record in 2016. But things got worse again in 2017 as both injuries and underperformances from several key players doomed the Bucs to a 5-11 record.
Making a few improvements in the offseason, it is possible that Tampa Bay goes back to a winning record but playing in the ultra-competitive NFC South and inconsistencies among its players make it a problematic scnenario.
Miami Dolphins Recent History
The Dolphins have seen their franchise slowly deteriorate. They went from a dynasty in the 70s to a contender in the 80s to a playoff team in the 90s to a non-playoff team for the most part of the 2000s. Since the new millennium, Miami has only made two playoff appearances: two wild card exits.
In the last 12 seasons, Miami has only managed two winning seasons and it’s partially due to not having a high-calibre quarterback. Since Dan Marino retired in 1999, the Dolphins have rotated between oft-injured game managers to borderline starters. Incumbent Ryan Tannehill is coming off an ACL injury.
Miami lost many of its best players in 2018. They made replacements but not enough as significant portions of their team are thin. Whether it’s on offence or defence, Miami will get exposed. Coach Adam Gase has his work cut out for him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Outlook
Three seasons in and it’s still tough to gauge how Winston is going to turn out. He shows flashes that would make fans believe he’s capable of greatness but he needs to win now. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has been known to “steal” starting jobs is right behind him.
Winston, as well as the coaching staff, will need to reignite the likes of Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, their two talented receivers who haven’t always been on the same page. The offensive line received an upgrade with centre Ryan Jensen but not much else.
The defence, which was the team’s weakest point last season, was beefed up front with pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and defensive tackle Vita Vea from the draft. This team has the talent to make noise but they need to find a way to make it work if they want to return to the playoffs.
Miami Dolphins Outlook
The team is in rebuilding mode even if they say otherwise. The losses of Ndamukong Suh (DT), Jarvis Landry (WR), and Lawrence Timmons (ILB) are significant and even in adding vets like Danny Amendola (WR) and Robert Quinn (DE), it won’t be enough.
It’s unclear how the team views Tannehill at this point. He helped lead them to their first winning season in seven years and is still improving but he hasn’t been healthy the past two seasons and having a shoddy line in front of him won’t help.
Fortunately for the Dolphins, their division rivals, the Jets and Bills are also in rebuilding mode. They won’t be beating the Pats but they can at least aim to finish second. With a few more additions in the next season, Miami could be back to respectability.
It’s a low-scoring affair when these two teams usually meet. The trend has usually been Tampa controlling the Dolphins with defence and running, which explains their disparity and running and passing stats. Tampa has dominated the ground game and Miami has the edge on the air.
The Dolphins will roll out either David Fales or former Jet Bryce Petty at quarterback. Fales is a decent backup who makes the most out of his limited skill-set while Petty has the physical tools but hasn’t panned out. The Bucs will go with Ryan Griffin, who is a reliable game manager at best.
This is Tampa’s game to lose. They have the better defence and will completely exploit Miami’s makeshift offensive line and lack of talent on offence. Their running back corps is also deep with second-round pick Ronald Jones in the waiting along with reliable backup Charles Sims.
It’s hard to see how Miami wins this outside of Tampa making too many mistakes and being undisciplined. But it’s the preseason and anything can happen. Tampa Bay should roll through Miami and it shouldn’t be close. At least, on paper.