It’s the week of the Buccaneers annual right of passage, the preseason game against the Dolphins of Miami. Don’t tell approximately 40 players that this game has no meaning. There are still positions being battled for. Careers being fought for. And don’t look now but the beard is returning to Tampa.
There Was a Time
There was a time when Don Shula, Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, and company were ruling the NFL with a style of great football and Floridians took notice. For many northern transplants, the Dolphins were the home team for west central and south Florida. Shout out here to Nick Buoniconti. The linebacker who was the cornerstone of the Dolphins defenses that went to three consecutive Super Bowls and gave us the 1972 perfect season. Buoniconti passed away two weeks ago on July 30th. He will forever be remembered as much for his post-football career. He worked for Inside The NFL, but especially notable was his work with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. His son, Marc, suffered a spinal cord injury making a tackle for the Citadel in 1985, leaving him a quadriplegic. Buoniconti truly was one of a kind.
Old Friends, New Places
Making his return to the Bay area this week is the bearded one, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Dolphins signed the journeyman veteran to a nice two-year, $11 million contract this offseason. That was about a cup of coffee before they acquired the Arizona Cardinals 2018 first-round pick Josh Rosen in a trade.
Also making their way back to One Buc Place this week is former Buccaneer defensive tackle Akeem Spence and quality control coach Tiquan Underwood.
With Winston taking full control of the 2019 offense under Bruce Arians, the two quarterbacks will no doubt greet each other warmly. The next two days will give each team the chance to practice against different looks. This will allow them to better evaluations of the players in camp, and probably have a heated exchange or two. Most coaches will tell you these inter-squad scrimmages are of even more value than a live preseason game.
With former defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh now wearing the pewter and red, it will be nice to see how his 2019 game is rounding into shape.
With no hurricanes on the horizon, the game scheduled for Friday night should be all systems go. But for both teams, the next two days of controlled scrimmages might prove the most valuable.