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December 24, 2011 @ 5:46 pm
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Turnovers, Mistakes and Newton Destroy Bucs Once Again

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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Like a bad record that won't stop playing an out of tune song, the Buccaneers managed to turn in an even more depressing game than last week. Beat writer Mark Cook re-visits his Keys To victory column and grades the team on achieving the five objectives.

Key 1. Knock Newton
The Buccaneers actually did in fact knock Newton around. The rookie sensation will most certainly feel the aches and pains of it come Monday morning. But the end result is it did little good as Newton did his best Rocky Balboa imitation, getting back up after each hit. You could almost see the Buccaneers defenders shake their heads like Apollo Creed thinking, what do we have to do to make this guy quit?

Tampa Bay blitzed, hit to the whistle and drove Newton’s helmet into the turf on several occasions. But most importantly, Newton kept getting up hit after hit and counter punching until he knocked the will right of out the Buccaneers. For the game, Newton was 12-of-17 for 171 yards with three TDs and also added another 65 yards and one touchdown on the ground. 

Besides his athletic ability, add toughness to Newton’s resume. Go ahead and hand Newton the Rookie-of-the-Year award now and save us all the time.
Final Grade: C

Key 2. Expect The Unexpected
So the Panthers didn’t duplicate the Hollywood-scripted Little Giants play they ran last week against Houston, but the offensive imagination of Carolina Panthers’ offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was clearly evident all afternoon. Running a hybrid zone spread offense, the Panthers clearly picked on an undermanned and overmatched Buccaneers defense, rolling up 433 yards and 48 points on the day.

The option in particular gouged the Buccaneers defense all day as the outside contain was virtually non-existent. Even when Newton faked the pitch, the linebackers and safeties appeared to yell “Ole!” as if they were facing a charging bull; unable to bring the former Auburn Tiger star down.
Final Grade: F

Key 3. Another Brick In The Wall
Giving Donald Penn and Jeremy Trueblood a little help with two-tight end sets did little to provide protection to Freeman. Both Trueblood and Donald Penn once again didn’t have their best games with Penn giving up two sacks and Trueblood allowing several pressures in addition to two penalties.

The Buccaneers gained the majority of their paltry 55 rushing yards inside and had three rushes stuffed for a loss when running outside the tackles. While I’m not sure if the tight ends were the culprits, you would think with the additional blocking the Tamp Bay running backs would have at the very least been able to get back to the line of scrimmage.

Tampa Bay did throw from the two-tight end set with Luke Stocker and Kellen Winslow combining for nine catches for 77 yards, but for the most part it did little to stop an average Carolina pass rush and take advantage of a team who started a practice squad player just activated.
Final Grade: D-

Key 4. Run Blount Run
Well this key went out of the window early – early as in Tampa Bay’s first offensive play. LeGarrette Blount mishandled the snap on the Buccaneers first offensive play from scrimmage and didn’t see the field again until the second half.

Although the Buccaneers fell behind early, taking away six rushing attempts by Josh Freeman, the Buccaneers’ running backs had just 13 carries all day. It's not as if there wasn’t room to run as Tampa Bay averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

As stated in the Keys To Victory column, running won’t make up huge differentials in points but can keep the clock moving and could have kept the Panthers’ offense on the sidelines, maybe making the score more respectable.
Final Grade: F

Key 5. Be A Rude Holiday Guest
At times, at least early that is, the Buccaneers were able to keep things interesting and add a certain amount of suspense. At halftime the score was 20-10 with the Tampa Bay receiving the second half kickoff, and it looked as if the objective of playing bad Santa to the Panthers was still in reach.

But Josh Freeman forced a third down pass into coverage that ended up being intercepted. The Panthers turned the turnover into seven points and stretched their lead to 27-10 and any hope was gone. As usual when a negative play occurred the Buccaneers were unable to respond and from that point the rout was on.
Final Grade: F

Final Analysis
Every week during this losing streak you think the Buccaneers may snap out of their funk and the opposing team may have a bad day and somehow Tampa Bay comes away with a win. But Sunday the trend of looking even worse than the previous week continued. The fact is, this is a bad football team. From coaching to players and across the board, the Buccaneers are in serious need of upgrades from top to bottom.

Each week a different player steps up with a critical mistake and once again we saw that veteran leadership is sorely missing.

Score Predictions
Cook’s Prediction: Panthers 36-17
Reynold’s Prediction: Panthers 31-20

Horchy’s Prediction: Panthers 31-24

Last modified on Saturday, 24 December 2011 20:36

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  • avatar

    I don't have a problem with the way we draft. If the roof needs repaired you don't replace one shingle and then start working on the door. Run defense was our biggest problem....it still is. I still think the main issue is our LB's and DB's but we also need depth on the D-line. I don't think our offense is nearly as bad as the play calling has made us look this year. Give us a creative OC and I can just about guarantee that we score a LOT more points this year. Defensively we need a real overhaul. Definitely need a complete coaching change and get rid of all the driftwood on the roster. We need a good draft and we need some key FA's this offseason.
  • avatar

    It's time to put some blame on Dom. Two years in a row he doubles down on drafting D line help, when we have holes all over the roster. When you need help all over the roster shouldn't you be trying to fill more then one area? When you draft two D tackles and they go down to injury, now you have no D line,and no talent anywhere else. I say this because I'd hate to see our first two picks being corners, when we have so many needs. Dom's draft strategy sucks. I see him hanging on to his job, but our next H.C. has to have a better plan for improving the whole over all roster,not trying to fix just one area every draft.
  • avatar

    Horse, I think Trueblood and Penn are two guys that are looking ahead to Jan 2nd. Trueblood has been nothing more than a more talented Kenyatta Walker. But he is the only one I think needs to be replaced on the O line. Winslow should go too I think, but Id like to see him compete for his job. Id like to see a lot of Bucs compete for their jobs to be honest with you. But TruExile said it best.. how to help next coach. Answer? Glazers MUST Spend money this year. There CANNOT be an excuse for not bringing in one or two TOP LEVEL free agents, then a few more others too. Im starting to wonder if LONDON trip had an effect on this team? Too many people going up to them saying "Your great..your great, we love you".....?
  • avatar

    I for one will be sad to see Morris go, but I was sad to see Gruden go. I thought after last yr we would be toasting Morris for clinching the Division Championship this year about this time, just like after the Superbowl I thought it was a given with such a Defensive Power house that we would at least make it back to another Super Bowl. It is amazing how things change after being 4 and 2 earlier this year. What happened ? I mean at what point did this team just decide that it wasn't worth it anymore ? The sad part is that some of these players are really good and you have to wonder how many will get cut before we can see how good they are.
  • avatar

    It's all too evident now that the only key that matters is the one to Bucs Place. It's time for the coaching (?) staff to turn in their keys and change the locks. When the same level of talent gets worse an time goes on it's easy to guess where the blame lies.
  • avatar

    Mark, Merry Christmas to you and your family.
  • avatar

    Horse I really appreciate it. Same to you and yours. Sitting here at midnight watching my wife wrap gifts while Im fooling around on the computer. Im husband of the year! Take care and have a great new year.
  • avatar

    My question is this...how are we going to help the next coach succeed? Granted, Morris made his mistakes this year, but he didn't have that much to work with. And with this losing streak, yea, he more than likely is done. But wow, I mean, what is ownership prepared to do? What do you think PR? Really? It doesn't matter, per se, what coach we bring in if we don't get any FA veteran help. Is Mark Dominick gonna go too, he sure as hell deserves some blame for this debacle of a season. Nothing but draft picks and practice squad players, no depth. At the very least it will be an interesting off-season. I wish Morris well, hope he can get involved with an organization that actually CARES about winning. But this team needs leadership from top to bottom, coaching and players.
  • avatar

    Well said Mark. I think that the rookies and the one year players are not that bad; most of it comes from what few veterans we have. Who am I referring too? It's our Offensive Line less Joseph and our Defensive Line less Barber. I have said it all season; we need a Center. Now it appears that we need improvement from our offensive tackles too. I actually was glad to see Dotson get into the game because I believe he will continue to get better if allowed to play. Who are the poor defensive players; Q. Black, Hayes, S. Jones, Biggers, and maybe Heyward. We aren't that far away from winning if we had better coaching, a couple free agents, and a few quality draft picks. "Worse to worse" as long as we keep this coaching is my new motto. Go Bucs! Only one more week to get better.
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