There are currently 90 players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' preseason roster, the vast majority of whom are healthy enough to play on Friday night when the team opens its 2012 preseason in Miami. That leads to some tricky math for Head Coach Greg Schiano and the Buccaneers' staff.
The typical NFL game includes about 60-70 plays from scrimmage per team, plus 15-25 special teams snaps, depending upon how much scoring there is. On each of those plays, there is an opportunity for just 11 men on each side. Figure about 1,600 player-snaps available for each team in one game, and you can see how quickly those assets can be used up when dividing them among 90 men.
Getting that distribution right – dividing the available snaps up in a way that allows for the most thorough evaluation of as many players as possible – is one of Schiano's main goals for Friday night.
"You do a lot of tick marking as a coach during these things," he said. "'Alright he's got this many plays.' You've got this many touches and you want to be able to make evaluations the next day when you put the tape on. You'd be very frustrated with yourself if you didn't give the guys the opportunity to show if they can or they can't. So that's the number-one job, to make sure you put people in position. There's not a heck of a lot game-planning going on and I'm sure there's not a lot from Miami either. We're going to be who we are, they're going to be who they are and let's see who can play so we can evaluate."
The game plan is likely to be fairly simple for the Buccaneers, in part as a means of not putting anything too revealing on tape for the Carolina Panthers, the team's opponent in the much more important regular-season opener. The more important reason for that sort of planning, however, is to make player evaluation more straightforward.
"I want to make sure we keep it simple enough so we can evaluate our guys," said Schiano. "I don't want the reason that a guy didn't make a block, a tackle, a catch or a run to be that he didn't know what he was doing. Right now I want to evaluate their physical ability to play against people in a competitive arena. We're in a game-plan week, but we didn't game plan at all."