Ah, preseason. The time of year when nothing truly exists but hope. Well, unless you’re a Jaguars fan (sorry Jacksonville). It’s time for fantasy football drafts, watching third and fourth stringers to see who will be the next Victor Cruz (Seriously, do you remember that? He was amazing in preseason. So much so, I drafted him in my money league. I was one year early, as he really came on in 2011). But mostly it’s a time of optimism. I’m a Bucs fan, and as a Bucs fan, I had a really cool opportunity. I was able to check out the Bucs first game of preseason, and I even got to hang out on the field a bit before the game. What follows are my notes from the experience. And optimism.
Let’s get started with the pre game introductions, which were the highlight of the night.
The Bucs season hinges on three things in my opinion. One, a rebuilt secondary that features free agents Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson, and rookie Jonathan Banks. Can they be at least, 50 percent better than the craptastic unit that played last year. If so, that will greatly improve the pass rush and the defense in general. Thing two is the o-line health. We’ve spent a lot of money on big bodies that can protect the quarterback and run block with the best in the league. Our offense looked pretty good last year until Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks were both injured. That leads to thing three. Josh Freeman. This season will go as Josh Freeman goes. Either he plays exceptional, and takes us to the playoffs and makes himself a ton of money, or we start from scratch next year. Speaking of Josh Freeman….
I wasn’t able to bring my big camera into the game, but I still got a few pretty cool shots that I wanted to share with you along with my notes. First and foremost, Greg Schiano is pretty intimidating. He looks like he’s ready to strap on pads and hit some dudes.
I got to see wideout Tiquan Underwood run routes right in front of me. I’m hoping he makes a big impact this year as our third wide receiver. We need to establish someone behind Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, and I think it will either be Underwood or the newly acquired Kevin Ogletree.
And yes, his hair is as aweosme as you think it is.
A knock on this teams offseason has been that there is no star power at tight end. We did, however, sign Green Bay’s Tom Crabtree. And he warmed up right in front of me. besides being totally tatt’ed up, he looks like a beast. He also had a nice catch and run for 61 yards.
After the warm ups and the player intros, we made it up to our seats just after kick off. It was a beautiful Tampa night, which means it was about to turn into a stormy Tampa. And of course, that’s exactly what happened. But it’s ok, I came prepared.
The Bucs first team looked pretty good. Our previously mentioned big money guards did not play at all, and Doug Martin barely played, but that gave us a chance to see backup Brian Leonard, whom Schiano knows from his Rutgers days. And honestly, he looked great. Ran hard, deliverd the hit, and even scored a touchdown. He ended his night with 6 carries for 23 hard earned yards.
And now for some quick notes.
- Brian Leonard looks huge.
- Peyton Hillis looks huge.
- Vincent Jackson looks huge.
- The o-line, especially Demar Dotson, looks huge.
- They all look huge. Even Doug Martin somehow.
- The cannons that shoot off when the team scores or enter the red zone are still really loud. Every time. Thats how often they scare me. Every time.
- Jonathan Banks, the rookie defensive back, looks like he could have the stuff. He played well, and he’s not afraid to pop you.
- Tampa weather sucks. Don’t believe me? Look at what happened to my foot after keeping it in a soaked shoe for and hour.
As I said, preseason is the ultimate time for optimism. So, like the awesome guy in front of me’s awesome hat, I’m hoping the Bucs can go….