Buccaneers vs. Dolphins 2013: Ryan Tannehill impresses without Dustin Keller, Josh Freeman sputters

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Tannehill was supposed to target tight end Dustin Keller quite a bit this season but without him, he looked alright in the Miami Dolphins' preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs' offense? Not so much.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers technically beat the Miami Dolphins 17-16 Saturday night, but judging from the reaction from each squad's fanbase, you'd never know it.

For the Dolphins, Saturday night was an encouraging performance for Ryan Tannehill, who for the first time had to go out and play without his No. 2 option. From Dolphins blog The Phinsider:

How would Tannehill respond without Dustin Keller? He would simply spread the ball around, and go 17-for-27 for 150 yards with a touchdown, earning him a 90.0 passer rating. His stats should be even better than that, with passes dropped left, right, and center for Miami's second year passer. Tannehill looked in control and was making good decisions. He still holds on to the ball a little too long at times, but, on the night, Tannehill looked good and should be ready when the regular season opens two weeks from tomorrow.

However, after tabbing backup tight end Charles Clay the No. 1 player to watch in the absence of Keller, there was disappointment in his play -- just one catch for five yards on six targets.

For Buccaneers blog Bucs Nation, everything the starters did was deemed bad. They landed in "the ugly" section of their weekly "the good, the bad, and the ugly" breakdown:

The entire starting offense. Ew. That includes Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, both of whom came up with some drops and failed to make the tough catches. In fact, every Buccaneers seemed to struggle catching passes, both good and bad.

Lowlighting the bad was the starting quarterback:

Overall, though, it was just a horrible performance by Josh Freeman. Inconsistent (or more, awful) with his accuracy and even stepping up into a sack on a couple of occasions. He ended the night with 6 completions on 16 passes for 59 yards, with four sacks. Yikes.

Those aren't overstatements: Freeman and backup Mike Glennon combined to go 9-for-25 with 103 yards, while gaining just 90 yards on 3.5 yards per carry on the ground.

The good news for Tampa Bay is twofold: first off, they were without their best player, Doug Martin, who should make the team's offense much more multifaceted than they were Saturday with Brian Leonard the guy who received the most carries.

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