The Miami Dolphins preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signifies one thing, that it’s only one more week until the Dolphins regular season will kick off. On September 13th against the Washington Redskins, the Dolphins will be put to the test of the NFL regular season. Fans are excited because they understand how successful this season can become. For now though we’ll still have to wait. The game against Tampa Bay was the Dolphins last dress rehearsal before the games get serious.
There’s so much excitement surrounding the Dolphins and the hype around this team is real. We got to see a few glimpses of greatness from the second string players including Will Davis and Jay Ajayi. Here are five things that we learned from watching the Dolphins play against the Buccaneers.
1. Famous Jameis Winston Gets Love in Miami
It’s odd. Normally when people come to South Florida to play against the Miami Dolphins they don’t get that much love. Outside of the many players that hail from South Florida, like Antonio Brown, Teddy Bridgewater, T.Y. Hilton and Geno Smith, it’s odd to see someone get respect here in Miami.
One of the players here in South Florida that gets much love is none other than Jameis Winston. There were plenty of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans dressed up in his jersey.
The former Florida State quarterback has gained many fans not only from Tallahassee but also here in South Florida. It’s might seem a bit odd, but his southern roots (Winston’s from Alabama) have actually given him a big following in Miami. There were many disappointed fans all over Sun Life that he wasn’t suited up and dressed to play. Fans might be disappointed now, but soon enough the front-runner for the NFL’s rookie of the Year will be playing in his first NFL in less than a week, so there was no reason to get him injured in a meaningless preseason game.
2. Will Davis Isn’t Going Anywhere
One of the maligned players from Jeff Ireland’s regime, Will Davis might still be suiting up as the starting cornerback on opening day for the Dolphins before it’s all said and done. According to local reports, Davis was being shopped around for more talent. However, Davis showed some instincts that the Dolphins will need in their secondary when he picked off Mike Glennon twice. One of the interceptions was a beauty as he baited Glennon into throwing in before jumping the route in the end zone.
— Dolfans NJ (@DolfansNJ) September 4, 2015
This season the Dolphins also drafted two rookies, Bobby McCain, and Tony Lippett, in order to help their secondary. It meant that his chance to make the team were much more slim. However, coming off a knee injury and showing out really well against Tampa Bay increased his chances to get the starting position.
3. The Dolphins Second Team Was Sloppy
Now a lot of the reason why this team is being hailed as a playoff team and a Super Bowl contender is because of the overall strength that’s on the roster. The Dolphins have starters two-deep at most positions and the overall team depth is greater than last season. However, when the Dolphins played against the Buccaneers the second string didn’t look nearly as strong as many people thought they would.
For example, wide receiver Christion Jones had a kickoff return for a touchdown that was called back because of an illegal block in the back. In addition, the Dolphins also gave up a safety because of a bad snap in the end zone.
When Joe Philbin and his coaching staff made their final evaluations for the 53 man roster, they saw a lot of players who missed assignments and missed blocks. That’s something that needs to get cleaned up entering the regular season. on.
4. Jay Ajayi Made His Case
Jay Ajayi was never on the chopping block, but his playing time was under question because of the depth at running back that the Dolphins have. Ajayi was expected to back up Lamar Miller, Damien Williams and LaMichael James since he started off slow production wise due to battling nagging injuries.
The good finale in the preseason against the Buccaneers gave the Dolphins coaching staff much optimism though. With his limited carries, Ajayi made the most of his time and had a productive game. Ajayi finished with 9 carries on 66 yards and a 7.3 yards per carry average.
Another punch at running back gives the Dolphins yet another weapon out of the backfield that can be utilized on offense. Ajayi still might not get much playing time in the regular season, once again because of injuries, but when he comes back healthy and if he can manage to stay healthy he could give the Dolphins a solid trio at running back.
5. Is DeVante Parker Healthy?
The biggest hype around any player from the Miami Dolphins is around their first round pick DeVante Parker. The standout wide receiver from Louisville will give the Dolphins the final threat they need as a true No. 1 option at wide receiver. Parker only played in the finale against Tampa Bay because he was recovering from foot surgery. However, the rookie made a catch before the game was over.
After missing an entire offseason full of practices, it was good seeing Parker on the field able enough to run routes and make blocks. As long as he stays healthy we should expect to see him on opening day against the Washington Redskins. If there’s one thing we can learn from Parker’s game it’s that he’s going to help Ryan Tannehill blossom into one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.
D’Joumbarey A. Moreau covers sports in Miami-Dade & Broward County. You can follow him on Twitter @DJoumbarey.