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December 16, 2011 @ 6:30 pm
Current rating: 4.00 Stars/1 Votes

Five Keys To Victory Versus Cowboys

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Each week PewterReport.com's beat writer Mark Cook lists his five keys to victory he feels the Buccaneers should try and accomplish in order to give them a chance at a win. After the game he re-vists these guys and gives the Bucs grades on how successful they were. See if you agree and tell us what you feel needs to happen for the Buccaneers to come away victorious.

Key 1. Eliminate Self Destructive Tendencies
The sky didn’t just fall last week in Jacksonville – it totally collapsed. After an early 14-0 lead, I’ll be honest I thought the rout was on. And it was. Just the wrong team doing the routing. While no one person can take the blame, there is no doubt the momentum took a huge turn when punt returner Preston Parker committed his second fumble returning a second-quarter punt. Jacksonville scooped up the ball and scored and never looked back.

While no one in the locker room wants to admit it, the lack of leadership is clearly evident as we have seen all season long. When things start to go wrong the Buccaneers have no one player who can break this team from their funk. So in order to win the Dallas game the Buccaneers are going to have to nearly eliminate any adversity from even beginning. This will require turnover-free football and limited penalties.

I’m not sure Tampa Bay can accomplish this goal but in order to have any chance at breaking their seven-game losing streak it will require a nearly mistake free football game.

Key 2. Keep Your Head Up
As discussed in the previous topic, without a bona fide true leader on this team the Buccaneers will need to play nearly perfect football, free of the mental and physical errors that have plagued them throughout the seven-game losing streak.

No one can expect the Buccaneers to not give up any points on defense, or not to have any three-and-outs offensively. Even the mighty Packers aren’t perfect. However when these negative things do occur it will be crucial for Tampa Bay to not get into the woe-is-me mentality and begin looking for the other shoe to drop.

Each player must try and take it upon themselves to fight through the issues and not get discouraged. And hopefully, even if the Buccaneers lose, it will be clearly because the Cowboys were a better football team as opposed to the snowball effect we saw last week in Jacksonville.

Key 3. Rope In Romo
Raheem Morris compared Tony Romo to Aaron Rodgers earlier this week pointing out his ability to take over a game with his arm and buying time with his feet. While those in Wisconsin would laugh at the comparisons there is no argument that Romo is a gifted quarterback and can carry a team on his back. Unfortunately for Cowboys’ fans, Romo can also single-handedly lose a game with poor decision-making.

The Buccaneers know the key to slowing Romo down is to make him throw a few balls up for grabs which he known for. The way to do that is with pressure and the Cowboys have struggled as of late in protecting Romo. In the last four games, which the Cowboys have won just two of, Romo has been sacked 13 times, nearly as many as he had been in the previous eight.

Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers have played well – for rookies – and will be coming guns-a-blazing for Romo, and Dekoda Watson seems fully recovered from a groin injury that has hampered him over the last several weeks. If these three – combined with a strong middle push from DT Albert Haynesworth – can pressure Romo, Aqib Talib and his secondary teammates may see some turnover opportunities head in their direction.

Key 4. Saturday Nights Alright For Fighting
Pride should be one of the most important attributes a professional athlete in any sport maintains, even when things aren’t going well. And we will see exactly how much pride the Buccaneers have left around midnight when the two teams walk off the field. If the Buccaneers somehow manage to knock off the favored Cowboys or even if they keep it competitive we will know Tampa Bay at the very least has their pride intact.

Playing on the national stage is an opportunity athletes love, as their families, friends, former college teammates and peers can see them in action – sometimes for the first time all season. No one wants to be embarrassed on such a stage and several Buccaneers players we talked to this week mentioned how much they are looking forward to showing the country they are a better football team than perceived nationally.

A sold out crowd with a semi-college Saturday night feel may very well provide this young Buccaneers with a much needed spark.

Key 5. Loose As a Goose
A lot has been made of the relationship Raheem Morris has with his team and some have questioned if they get away with too much. But I am beginning to think the pressure of the losing streak and all of the talk surrounding a perceived exit of Morris may have created a pressured environment that neither the players nor coaches are exempt from.

I have a cousin who used the expression, “wound up tighter than Dick’s hatband.” Now I don’t know what Dick is so stressed about or even why that would affect a hatband. But the pressure for both the coaches and players may be having a negative affect. As Scott Reynolds pointed out on last Wednesday’s PewterReport radio show, where is the Raheem Morris of last season? You know the chest-bumping, fired up sideline guy we saw as opposed to the Tony Dungy-style arms folded quiet coach. A seven-game losing streak can leave little chest bump over but the head coaches’ body language speaks volumes. Maybe these players are playing and the coaches are coaching to not make mistakes.

The Buccaneers' coaches and players need to come out and play – and coach – with reckless abandon. Play loose, have fun, and see what happens. And if they can accomplish that, they just may shock the country.

Final Analysis
Obviously protecting Freeman, getting Blount going and slowing down Romo will all be important factors is giving themselves a chance. Josh Freeman said this might be the most talented team they will face all season. But this 53-man roster and coaching staff are playing with their jobs on the line. This may very well be the last game ever at Raymond James Stadium in a Buccaneers uniform for a few of these players and coaches. Hopefully they will let it all hang out and walk off the field with at the very least – fewer regrets.

Score Predictions
Cook’s Prediction: Cowboys 30-21
Reynold’s Prediction: Cowboys 33-20
Horchy’s Prediction: Cowboys 31-20

Last modified on Friday, 16 December 2011 19:23

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  • avatar

    I move the “Keys to Victory” segment be suspended until this team actually gets another victory.
  • avatar

    Maybe the Bucs need to hire a shrink instead of a head coach since they're so emotionally fragile.
  • avatar

    I'm a Floridian transplanted to New England so for me to see the Bucs play I have to go to a bar and spend some $$ to sit and watch. Needless to say, after the slide started this season I've seen a lot less of them for the last few weeks and I can say because of the time away that seeing Freeman right now you can tell his mindset is worlds apart from what it was last year. As the slide has lengthened I fully believe that he's taken on the pressure of having to play for his coach's job. He's not in a rhythm (and it all revolves around No 5 as Raheem has always put it) and therefore nobody else is. He's begun the feel that thread of self-doubt that just destroys the self confidence and swagger necessary to pull of the clutch come from behind victories he was known for a year ago. It's so easy to see in his face in replays and highlight reels (for the other team). Raheem's gotta get to him mentally and re-focus this young man so he can get loose like Mark suggests. I still believe despite all the problems that whatever the direction Freeman goes, so goes the team. And Blount delivering some punishing runs wouldn't hurt either.
  • avatar

    From what I hear, the prevailing thought is that the team lacks effort and direction, while that may be true in certain players, I'd hate to just label that as fact. I get it though it's frustrating to spend hundreds to see them lose like they have been (I'm in that boat). What I've also seen though, is fear of screwing up (especially after London when all we heard about is the emphasis on not making penalties/mistakes. That's why I think the momentum changed so dramatically and this is not the same team from earlier in the season and last year. I agree with your analysis of Josh, I don't think he has too much confidence in his arm I've seen him hesitate and not get the ball out fast enough. Hopefully they will just play and be competitive to finish out the year. I think most of us would be happy with a new OC and some top shelf free agents next year. I truly believe Morris should get another chance with better players instead of scrapping the plan and starting at square one, putting us back yet another few years
  • avatar

    Here's my five keys: 1.) Make Jerry Jones' plastic surgeon have to paint on a smiley face to cover his scowl as he heads past the cameras on his way down to the locker room to give Jason Garret the reigns to the black horse so he can ride off into the sunset. 2.) Allow the Cowboys to score first so they think this will be an easy victory and start looking ahead to next week's match-up then pull the "Rope-A Dope" and as they e-trade baby would say, have Tony Romo display his "shocked look". 3.) Throw the ball down field, take a few shots. 4.) Go for it on 4th down instead of kicking field goals. 5.) Blitz!
  • avatar

    Mark-- best keys of the game yet! I couldn't agree more, this team needs some positive reinforcement after all of the negativity during the losing streak. You can see these players so stressed about not making a mistake that when a questionable flag (an extraordinary amount of them this year) gets thrown, it sends them into a tailspin. As the pressure to play mistake free has increased their ability to make plays has decreased. I hate the position this team is in with the media and the constant talk that they are talentless and should all be fired. Regardless of the way most of us feels about the ownership's lack of passion and running this team like a cash cow, I wish we as a fanbase could show this young team more encouragement coach Morris included. If any player is reading this: believe and succeed -- look at what tebow's done for Denver.
  • avatar

    Thanks buc1932. I think we all understand how hard it is to work under stress regardless if it is football or mowing lawns or getting a report done for the boss on deadline. Now think about doing it with everyone telling you how bad you are and reminding you to not make a mistake. Some folks thrive in it while others melt down, most are somewhere in the middle. I'm not making excuses for the play of the team, just throwing out possible scenarios. Again very easy for all of us to sit back throwing rocks from the bleachers. I'm thinking if they can just be convinced by Raheem and Olson to just go out and have fun, and do what Raheem says everyday – play smart, fast, consistent – as opposed to making worrying about making mistakes, then they will be better off. And truthfully they have nothing to lose at this point. Josh needs to do what Dilfer told me one time a million years ago – stop thinking and just "grip it and rip it." That is something I believe Freeman needs to hear. To me he is playing timid at times. He isn't letting the ball just go. How many legitimate deep shots has he taken all season? Very very few. Just have some fun. I know we all sometimes treat it as life or death but we have to remember it is just a game. One with enormous money involved, but a game nonetheless. That isn't meant to minimize the opinions of folks spending thousands of dollars each year on season tickets though. Anyway thanks for the feedback!
  • avatar

    Very good article Mark and well said. Romo is hot and cold and if we can keep the pressure on him he will make mistakes. Again our defense isn't near the concern; it's our offense that is the biggest problem. I am hoping that Olsen will get more creative by adjusting to what their defense is doing. I believe it is within this team to make this a competitive game. The heck with the win or loss; it's about being competitive. I believe that we can at least accomplish that if we take one step at a time and stay focused. In this game I hope we run, run, run. The short pass will work against this team. Bucs 16, Cowboys 19. Go Bucs! Do your best!
  • avatar

    I like your thinking Horse. Olson hopefully can, like you said, get more creative. I thoughthe called a brilliant first quarter and a half last week when Tampa got off to the 14-0 start. Hard to say how the game plan was after that because that's when the wheels feel off. Protection got sloppy and Freeman lost the mojo he had early. I'm afraid keeping Romo and Co. under 20 will be difficult but they held Brees to their lowest scoring output earlier in the season so you never know.
  • avatar

    Fat chance the Bucs score 20, and hold Dallas in the low 30's.
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