This August, the Buccaneers will be hosting the Miami Dolphins for a couple of joint practice sessions. While joint practices have become rather common as of late, it’s always a case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Two teams, two opposing forces, coming together in the middle of getting their act together, and you can bet there will be fireworks, but it’s not all bad when two teams hash it out beyond the scope of the NFL season.
One of the drawbacks to a team, simply practicing with their own players, is you don’t always know just how well you’re coming along. You don’t know if the defense is as improved as they seem, or if the running backs have found their footing. You aren’t sure if your quarterback has corrected some mechanical errors, and you aren’t sure if your kicker can perform under pressure. This is one of the main benefits of having a joint practice session, is that both teams have the ability to put their teams against an opposing team to see just how far they’ve come and how much work they have to do, without it having an impact on the season, and without giving away the entire playbook.
While not giving away your entire playbook is a good thing about joint practices, you also are limited in what plays you can run, as you don’t want to give away more of your playbook than necessary, especially if you find yourself in a joint practice with a team you’ll be facing later in the year. While the Bucs won’t be facing the Dolphins in the regular season, we will be battling them in the pre-season, so that limits what we’ll run in the joint practices, but it will also allow us to get a small look inside their playbook as well, which may or may not be beneficial come week two of the pre-season.
The worst aspect of these joint practices is tempers and injuries. When you get two teams like the Dolphins and Buccaneers, who battle for the claim of being the best team in the State (c’ mon, you didn’t even remember Jacksonville had a team) you have players that will lay out someone extra hard, or stomp a player if they get the opportunity. You have both teams knowing they aren’t 100% ready for the season to start and may have a chip on their shoulder that they are being forced to take a break from their in-depth practices that give them a chance to work out the final kinks. Even if every player is on their best behavior when you line up with some of the greatest athletes in the world, the risk of an injury is very real, and something that every player and fan desperately wants to avoid. The last thing we need is seeing someone like Suh or Evans go down with a season-ending injury in a joint practice that ultimately may help work out the kinks but truly mean nothing.
No matter the outcome of the joint practices with the Dolphins, the best we can hope for is that every player makes it out of the practices healthy and ready to get the season started, but if the worst happens and we see a major injury, perhaps the Buccaneers will explore bringing an end to this joint practice nonsense and allow the team to get back to the grind of Arians running them ragged.