The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will build their offense around the running game in 2012, an intention Greg Schiano has repeated on several occasions since arriving as the team's new head coach. Quarterback Josh Freeman reiterated that point during a recent interview on the SiriusXM NFL Blitz radio show; furthermore, he praised the wisdom of the plan, having seen Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount run behind the Bucs' massive offensive line in training camp.
However, Freeman also thinks the Buccaneers have the makings of a pretty dangerous five-wide formation.
Besides the quarterback, there are only five players eligible to run or catch the ball on any given snap, so a five-wide play is a hyper-aggressive passing attack with no backs in the backfield and no extra protection help for the offensive line. It doesn't necessarily have to include five actual wide receivers; one or more of the potential pass-catchers fanned out along the line of scrimmage could be a tight end or a running back. But good depth at the receiver position is pretty much a necessity to make the four or five-wide approach any significant part of the offense, and Freeman thinks the Bucs have that, too.
"When you've got guys like LeGarrette Blount and now Doug Martin, you've got to get them ball," Freeman told the Blitz. "Likewise, you talk about our five-wide – we've got Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams; Arrelious Benn should come back strong; Sammie Stroughter, Preston Parker; and Tiquan Underwood is emerging as a huge weapon for us.
"Talking to [fellow Bucs QB] Dan Orlovsky, he hasn't this impressed with the core five receivers as he's seen here. It's a wealth of talent. There are a lot of guys that can come out and make plays and do things to win games for you."
Whether or not the Bucs actually make significant use of four or five-wide concepts, they have a lot of different weapons in the receiving corps to mix into the attack. Adding Jackson, the team's big free agent acquisition back in March, has clearly changed the dynamics at that position.
"We have a number of talented guys, but Vincent's just in a league of his own in that regard," said Freeman. "He's big, physical and fast. He runs great routes, has great hands and he's able to body people up. Before we might not have a chance on the go-ball or on the deep post, but now you have a guy that's either going to run through you or run away from you."
Several Ways to Tune In
As ready as Buccaneer players are to hit somebody in a jersey of a different color, Tampa Bay fans are just as eager to catch their new team in action. They'll have several options.
Tampa Bay's preseason opener in Miami will be televised live by WTSP-TV Channel 10 in the Bay area. Chris Myers will handle play-by-play and will be joined in the booth by former Buccaneer great John Lynch. Fans with high-definition TV sets can tune in to WTSP-DT Channel 10.1, and even Standard Definition viewers will enjoy higher-resolution video and improved audio.
Fans not in front of a TV can listen to the game on the Buccaneers Radio Network with US 103.5 FM once again serving as the flagship station. The broadcast blankets the Bay area with a 100,000-watt signal on 103.5 FM and is also simulcast on 620 WDAE-AM. Fan-favorite Gene Deckerhoff will call the play-by-play for his 24th consecutive season and will once again be joined in the booth by former Buccaneer tight end Dave Moore.
And even those who are out of range or locked in front of a computer screen on Friday night can keep up with all the action. The Buccaneers Radio Network broadcast will be carried live on Buccaneers.com, beginning shortly before kickoff.
Friday's Bucs-Dolphins game begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
NFL Shares Concussion Prevention and Treatment Information with Parents
The Buccaneers aren't the only ones getting ready to start a new football campaign. All across the country, young athletes are tuning up for their own seasons in high school, middle school or Pop Warner leagues.
The NFL will return to regular-season action at 16 different venues between September 5-9, beginning with the league's 2012 Kickoff Game between the Cowboys and Giants in New York on the fifth, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Many, many more fields will feature kids enjoying America's favorite sport. On each and every one of those fields, from the NFL down to the pee wee level, player safety is of paramount concern.
Recognizing this, the NFL has partnered with USA Football and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in an effort to educate parents and youth coaches about concussion prevention and treatment. The effort is a natural extension of the league's Play60 initiative, which promotes physical activity and fitness among children; the NFL encourages kids to play, but also wants them to stay healthy and safe when they do so.
Preventing concussions – and recognizing and treating them if they do occur – is a critical part of that effort, and a process that isn't necessarily familiar to every coach or parent of a young athlete. The NFL and the CDC have thus put together a curriculum for parents called "Heads Up," which helps identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion and offers information on how to deal with this injury.
The Buccaneers believe this is an important issue as well, and wish to share the CDC's Heads Up curriculum with any of their fans who may have kids engaged in youth sports, including football. To access that Heads Up information, please click here.
Football is about to begin, at Raymond James Stadium and on youth fields across the nation. With the right information, we can make America's greatest sport safer for kids everywhere.