Greg Schiano and Joe Philbin will share their first official game as head coaches in the National Football League.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will visit the Miami Dolphins during the first week of this year's preseason NFL slate, creating a matchup between two teams with new men at the helm in 2012.
Schiano and the Buccaneers will then return to Tampa for a pair of home games against the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots before finishing the preseason on the road against the Washington Redskins for the second year in a row. Specific dates and times for all four games will be released later in the offseason.
Tampa Bay's 2012 preseason schedule bears several similarities to last year's August slate, including the two home games in the middle and that capper in the capital. New England is on the Bucs' home preseason schedule for the second year in a row and, of course, Tampa Bay and Miami will do battle before the regular season for the 13th consecutive year. On the other hand, this is the first visit by the Titans to Tampa in the preseason since 1989, when the franchise was still located in Houston and called the Oilers.
Here is the Buccaneers' 2012 weekly preseason schedule:
Week 1 (Aug. 9-13)
Miami leads 16-10
Week 2 (Aug. 16-20)
Tampa Bay leads 6-2
Week 3 (Aug. 23-26)
Tampa Bay leads 7-2
Week 4 (Sept. 29-30)
Washington leads 6-5
The Buccaneers are used to repeated finales in the preseason. Before last year's Week Four trip to Washington, the team had played the Houston Texans in the final preseason game for nine straight years (2002-10). This will be the 11th time the Buccaneers and Redskins have faced each other in the preseason, but only the third time on Washington's home turf. The Bucs are 1-1 all-time on the road against the 'Skins after dropping last year's preseason finale, 29-24.
And the Bucs are certainly familiar with the Dolphins in preseason action. Not only have the two teams squared off in each of the last 12 summers but they have played each other a total of 25 times in the preseason already. That makes Miami by far the Buccaneers' most common warm-up opponent; the next closest is Atlanta, with 16 prior preseason meetings. Obviously, teams prefer shorter trips during the preseason, which is why the Buccaneers have played the Dolphins in 24 of their 36 previous seasons (in 1996, the two teams met twice).
Miami holds the all-time edge in preseason action against the Bucs, as is displayed in the chart above, but the series has been quite even over the last dozen years. Each team has won six times in that span, and 11 of the 12 games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Moreover, seven of the 12 games have been decided by three points or fewer.
The Buccaneers have played the Titans twice in the preseason since their move to Tennessee, but both times in Nashville. The most recent August meeting was in 2009, when the visiting Buccaneers dropped a 27-20 decision at LP Field. Overall, the Buccaneers have a handy lead in the series, having taking six of eight, including all three that were played in Tampa.
The Buccaneers and Patriots are fairly familiar with each other in preseason play, as well, having met nine previous times and twice in the past four summers. The Buccaneers have dominated that series, winning seven of the nine games, though New England took last year's decision by a 31-14 margin at Raymond James Stadium. Most of the series has been played in Florida, with the Bucs holding a 5-1 edge in home preseason games against the Patriots. In 1990, the Buccaneers and Patriots played a neutral-site game at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, with Tampa Bay prevailing, 44-10.
This marks the fifth straight season that the Buccaneers have opened their preseason with a road game, and the third year in a row that they also finished away from home. This is also the fifth straight preseason in which Tampa Bay will be at home in Week Three, which is an advantageous bit of scheduling for Buccaneer fans. Most teams play their starters for the longest amount of time in the third preseason game, making it most closely resemble regular-season action.