Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars Kickoff NFL Preseason Week 1
By Alan Zlotorzynski, Space Coast Daily // August 12, 2016
2008 last time Florida team made nfl payoffs
If you’re still surprised by the drama that surrounds the National Football League these days, then you probably haven’t been paying the 96-year-old league much attention in the last five to 10 years.
Since 1962 the NFL Hall of Fame Game is usually the first game of the preseason ending the leagues six-month offseason. The game, meaningless, in that the starters for each team never play for more than a few plays, usually draws television ratings higher than any meaningful baseball game played for the entire MLB season.
Last Sunday night the 54-year tradition was abruptly halted when league officials were forced to cancel the game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts because the painted logos at midfield and in the end zones were hard, slick and uneven and considered potentially dangerous.
The field was brought to the Hall from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, where the surface was used for just one season. Fans who purchased tickets for the game will be offered full refunds, according to Hall of Fame President David Baker but the airfare and hotel accommodations, which many families save year around for, weren’t mentioned.
As a result of the cancellation, the NFL Preseason kicked off last night with six games on the schedule.
Two of those contests involved NFL teams in Florida, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles where the Bucs fell 17-9 and the Jacksonville Jaguars suited up about 90 miles north up I-95 as the traveled to Met Life Stadium to take on the New York Jets where they also fell 17-13.
The Miami Dolphins are likely to be staying in the same hotel with the Jags as they prepare to also kickoff their preseason at Met Life Stadium on Saturday night taking on the New York Giants.
It should be an interesting and compelling season for each of the Sunshine States three NFL teams. While expectations in each city are tempered for the upcoming season, the anxiety of the lack of success for each franchises since 2000 is building.
Collectively, the Fins, Jags and Bucs have combined to make just 10 trips to the playoffs since we jumped into the millennium. Five of those appearances belong to Tampa Bay, who won the Super Bowl back in 2002. Consequently, that’s also the last time the Bucs won a playoff game.
The last time the Bucs made the playoffs they did so with Jaguars in 2007. The Dolphins last trip was a year later in 2008. The last time Miami won a playoff game was in 2000, when Lamar Smith rushed for 209 yards included a game wining 17-yard TD run in overtime to give Miami a 23-17 over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?
Continuity has been an issue for each franchise during this stretch at key areas including quarterback and head coach. The QB position just now seems to be settling in Tampa with former FSU star Jamies Winston. The Jaguars finally seem to have a franchise passer in former UCF grad Blake Bortles and Miami is still making up their mind on former Texas A&M signal caller, Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill is entering his fifth season and in May 2015 was given a $96 million contract extension for accomplishing a 23—25 record and 85.2 career passer rating at the time of his extension. In all fairness to Tannehill, he hasn’t been the most protected guy under center since he came into the league.
The mess that has been the Dolphins offensive line since the Jonathan Martin and Ritchie Incognito situation has allowed Tannehill to look up at the sky laying on his back 184 times in four seasons. He’s been sacked an average of 46 times a season, including a league high 58 times in 2013.
Somehow and very much to his credit, he hasn’t missed a start playing in all 64 games despite being sacked an average of three times per game.
ONE VOICE ONE WAY:
Coaching stability in all three cities has been about as solid as the play at quarterback for much of the past 16 seasons Both the Bucs and Dolphins will be breaking in new sideline walkers this season.
Combined the three teams have had 20 different head coaches since 2000, with Miami leading the way. New head coach Adam Gase is the ninth hire in south Florida since 2000.
The trio are exactly 100 games under .500 combined since the start of the 2011 season.
The preseason may be looked upon as a series of games that doesn’t mean anything but if you’re an NFL team in the state of Florida, these next four games are critical.
Aside from filling depth charts, finding an identity, building team character and learning how to win consistently are legitimate goals.
When you’re 75-175 combined over the last five seasons a “W” in the first week of August can be as important as a win in the first week of November.
In Miami, Gase must get more out of Ryan Tannehill, while in Tampa new head coach Dirk Koetter must build on Jamies Winston’s rookie success. In Jacksonville the offense is young and dynamic filled with playmakers and on defense, the one-time Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator and Jags head coach Gus Bradley has the pieces in place to build a solid unit.
With the great drafts Jacksonville has had the past three years and the big name free agent signings on defense, make no mistake, the Jags Bradley is coaching for his job this season.
Unless you’re the Patriots, Colts or Panthers, the three teams favored to win the divisions the Fins, Jags and Bucs play in, winning is critical at any juncture.
And by the way those three teams have combined for 32 playoff appearances, played in 10 Super Bowls (six wins) and have had just eight coaching changes since 2000. They also have had two of the best signal callers in the history of the league during that time frame in Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Cam Newton, the Panthers qb and reigning league MVP could be on his way to greatness as well.
While not all teams are afforded that luxury, the blueprint is clear, continue to develop the franchise qb and allow the head coach some time to build. For all three Florida teams, week 1 of the preseason is the start of that process.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR ACCORDING TO BEAT WRITERS COVERING TEAMS FROM ESPN FOR WEEK 1
Dolphins at Giants
The Dolphins are 24 hours away from their preseason opener against the Giants and have some key decisions to make with star players coming off injuries. Coach Adam Gase said he hasn’t decided if former Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake (Achilles) and wide receiver DeVante Parker (hamstring) will play Friday. Gase, however, has made a decision to rest running back Arian Foster (Achilles) against the Giants as a precaution. –James Walker
Jaguars at Jets
The Jaguars on Thursday open the preseason at the New York Jets. The offense has been focusing on starting fast during camp, and the first drive will be key. The Jaguars averaged just two points in the first quarter last season, which ranked 31st in the NFL. — Mike DiRocco
Buccaneers at Eagles
The Bucs touched down in Philadelphia early Wednesday evening in preparation for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Eagles. Still no word on whether banged-up wide receiver Vincent Jackson or running back Charles Sims will play, but coach Dirk Koetter hinted at erring on the side of caution. Aside from testing out some unproven players in the game, they’ll also be testing out a new headset system for the coach and the quarterback. In Philly last year, Jameis Winston couldn’t hear Koetter through most of the first two offensive series. They’ll also have defensive coordinator Mike Smith up in the coaches’ booth. Koetter called it “good practice.” — Jenna Laine
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