PewterReport.com's beat writer Mark Cook re-visits his Saturday weekly Keys To Victory column and grades the team on how well they were able to achieve the goals.
Key 1. Derail Jones-Drew
I assumed if the Buccaneers accomplished this goal it would appear to be an easy victory for Tampa Bay. I was badly mistaken. The Buccaneers defense did an admirable job of keeping Jones-Drew in check and still managed to lose by four touchdowns.
The former Bruin was as advertised – a hard runner with great balance and toughness – but didn’t ever manage to get off a backbreaking run. Tampa Bay’s defensive line made several plays in the backfield and tackling wasn’t horrible, but at the end of the day Jones-Drew was still a key component in the Jaguars offense.
Jones-Drew finished with 85 yards on 27 carries (3.1 average) but scored a career-high four touchdowns. The Jaguars' all-time leading scorer added 51 yards receiving on six receptions.
Final grade: C
Key 2. Keep It Simple
Both head coach Raheem Morris and offensive coordinator Greg Olson told the media the plan was to scale back and simplify things for their respective units while preparing for Jacksonville this week. The jury is out on how much of a difference it made as far as execution went, but on the scoreboard it was even a more crushing defeat than last week’s loss to Carolina.
Tampa Bay came out and drove 80-yards for a touchdown on their opening drive, then in the second quarter quickly built a 14-point lead. The miserable season appeared to be turning around but the tone of the game soon matched the gray, cold weather when punt returner Preston Parker fumbled a punt that was returned for a Jacksonville touchdown. Momentum turned and Tampa ver recovered. Simplicity in the game plan can’t overcome 12 penalties and seven turnovers.
Key 3. More Madu
All season long we have heard from coaches and players about how well Mossis Madu has looked in practice. Last week against Carolina, Madu turned a few heads with his change-of-pace running style. Madu carried once in the second half for six yards and most assumed his role was beginning to increase. But after that one carry, Madu was a forgotten man and the coaching staff returned to Kregg Lumpkin as the primary third-down back.
In the grand scheme of things Madu playing more probably makes no difference in this game. However the Buccaneers need to get a look and try and see exactly what he offers. Lumpkin was badly beaten (along with Donald Penn) on the second-quarter sack-fumble Jags touchdown and has shown very little this season in his role. With the season over it is time for this staff to see who can perform.
Final Grade: F
Key 4. Get To Gabbert
I can just imagine NFL Network commentator Warren Sapp sitting in the studio around 12:55 this afternoon salivating thinking about the days when the Bucs defense would pray for opportunities like today in facing a struggling rookie QB. But those days are long gone and the one thing you wanted to do as a defense was make Blaine Gabbert throw the football.
Gabbert didn’t set the world on fire, but at the end of the day he outplayed Buccaneers QB Josh Freeman. The Buccaneers were unable to rattle the rookie after the first quarter and managed just one quarterback sack despite Gabbert dropping back to throw 33 times. Gabbert completed 19-of-33 for 217 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
Final Grade: D-
Key 5. Call In An Air Strike
With the top three cornerbacks out of action for the Jaguars it appeared the door was wide open for Josh Freeman to have a career day. The weather wasn’t in his favor but this secondary gave up 297 yards last week and has been struggling over the last month.
Despite the castoff starters in the secondary, Josh Freeman was never able to establish any rhythm and once again chose not to take any deep shots. The shoulder shouldn’t be used as an excuse as Freeman was adamant he was able to play and the trainers and coaching staff obviously agreed.
Tampa Bay’s signal-caller was outgunned by a rookie who hasn’t completed even 50 percent of his passes this season. Freeman made two terrible throws that resulted in interceptions and fumbled twice, including one in his own end zone.
The loss can’t be entirely pinned on Freeman, but No. 5 must take some of the heat for this loss and also the disappointing season.
Final Grade: F
Seven turnovers, 12 penalties and a total lack of composure when things started going bad equal exactly what the Buccaneers got today – a 41-14 loss. This is by far the worst loss of the year as a team who hasn’t scored more than 20 points all season was able to hang 41 on Tampa Bay today. Every week you assume it can't get worse, yet it does. It may take a miracle for many of these players and this coaching staff to return to Tampa next season.
Cook’s Prediction: Buccaneers 24-19
Reynold’s Prediction: Jaguars 21-17
Horchy’s Prediction: Buccaneers 23-16
Actual Final Score: Jaguars 41-14