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December 31, 2011 @ 9:57 am
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Five Keys To Victory At Atlanta

Written by Mark
Cook
Mark Cook

Mark
Cook

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For the final time this season PewterReport.com beat writer Mark Cook offers his "Five Keys" he feels the Buccaneers should attempt to achieve in order to beat their next opponent, the Atlanta Falcons.

Key 1. Turnover Free
When all the discussion of how a 10-6 football team got to a potential 4-12 team there is one stat that may have made the biggest difference than anything. Forget coaching, forget youth and forget play calling. The biggest difference from 2010 to this season is turnovers. From a plus-9 in 2010 to a minus-14 in 2011 it could arguably be said the downfall and swoon of the Buccaneers is exactly that – turnover differential.

From Josh Freeman’s 19 interceptions to the team’s 14 lost fumbles, [combined with penalties], turnovers are the most telling statistic of the 2011 season. If the Buccaneers hope to have any chance of beating – or even staying competitive with the Falcons – they must protect the football.

Key 2. Find Some Swagger
Thinking you can win a football game is one thing. Believing you can and doing it is an entirely different animal and something the Buccaneers have struggled with since their last win which seems like years ago.


The psychological aspect of the game may be just as important as the physical part. And lets face it, when things start going bad this football team cannot for whatever reason respond in a positive manner. From the opening play touchdown pass against Houston earlier this year to Preston Parker’s fumbled punt turned Jacksonville touchdown a few weeks ago, time after time we have seen the Buccaneers inability to handle adversity.

Sunday at Atlanta something will certainly go wrong. But how will Tampa Bay respond? At some point you would have expected someone, anyone, to step up in a leadership role and tell this young Bucs squad to keep their chins up. It hasn’t happened yet this season, and we have no reason to expect it starts Sunday. But if Tampa Bay has any shot to upset the Falcons it must.


Key 3. Trying To Get The Feeling Again
When the Atlanta Falcons came to Raymond James Stadium earlier this season and walked off the field losers to the Buccaneers that late September evening Buccaneers fans allowed themselves to start thinking maybe last years 10-6 record wasn’t a fluke. Then two weeks later after a hard fought win against New Orleans and a share of first place in the NFC South, it appeared the season would come down to three-team battle for supremacy in the division. But since the Buccaneers celebrated that New Orleans win back on October 13 there have been no more celebrations, no more jovial locker rooms and an air of tension has set in throughout One Buccaneer Place.

If I were Raheem Morris there would have been no game film of the Falcons games over the last few weeks, but just a replay of the Falcons and Saints wins. Just film of what did Tampa Bay do to stop Michael Turner and constant video of how they stopped the potent Saints offensive attack and a swarming defense that limited Drew Brees and Co. to 20 points that afternoon.

In other words constant re-enforcement that this team at one point was 4-2 and help them remember how great it felt to walk off the field as winners. 

Like Jake and Elwood Blues said in 1980, “It’s time to get the band back together.”

Key 4. Win The Super Bowl
After a season where all the goals that were set in training camp are dashed and the only thing to look forward to is now the offseason, the Buccaneers should treat this like a college bowl game, their playoff game or even better yet, their Super Bowl. 

Make no mistake almost assuredly we will see different roster that lines up in Week 1 of the 2012 season then who takes the field Sunday afternoon and likely a completely different coaching staff. And for a few of these players it very well could be the last time they step onto the turf as an NFL player.

Walk into the Georgia Dome with an attitude and purpose and show the nation that despite the dismal season the Buccaneers still have some pride left.

Key 5. Deliver Belated Christmas Gift For Raheem
We have heard over the course of Raheem Morris’ three-year tenure as the head ball coach of the Buccaneers how much these players love Raheem Morris – even more so since the nine-game losing streak began. But if an outsider looked at film over the last two months without any knowledge of the player’s so-called affinity for Morris they most certainly would come to a different conclusion. In fact it wouldn’t be out of line for them to think just the opposite.

If the love and respect is real now is the time to put up or shut up. Morris has made his share of mistakes, no one will argue that, however has there ever been a Buccaneers coach who has went to bat for or had their player's back any more than Raheem Morris?

It will probably be a little too late to make a difference in Morris’ job but at least the players should give him the effort he deserves.

Final Analysis
17 weeks ago when the 2011 season was about to kick off I predicted an 8-8 record. Although I thought they would take a step back in terms of victories I believed this would be an overall better team than the 2010 squad. I’m not sure I have been anymore wrong in anything I’ve believed in since I used to think that wrestling was real. The problems that plagued the Buccaneers in 2011 are numerous just as the possible solutions in trying to solve them in 2012 are. What happens now? Hang on Bucs fans. The only thing we at PewterReport.com know for sure is it will be a crazy next few months.

Predictions
Mark Cook: Falcons 38-14
Scott Reynolds: Falcons 33-17

Last modified on Sunday, 01 January 2012 02:56
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    Niko: Preston Parker was being used pretty effectively earlier in the year as a 3rd down receiver. better than punting don't ya think? By the way, who the ***** are any of our receivers?
  • avatar

    Worst team in Bucs History = Glazers Worst Head coach in Bucs History = Glazers Worst General Manager in Bucs History = Glazers Worst Owners in Bucs History = Glazers. First off we need new owners. Period. Second, clean house. Third, cut 3/4 of the team. Fourth, Draft or acquire a Quarterback. Then start the long road back. I wonder if Gruden is watching this game and rubbing off some knuckle children over pictures of the Glazers, Dumb Dog, and Shawn King...
  • avatar


    Scubog, I swear this is not a knock on you in any way...but just think about your #2--and its a valid point, but, WHO THE F*$& is PRESTON PARKER?!?!? Seriously, when did rediscovering PRESTON FREAKING PARKER become a key to this Bucs offense? And thats one of the problems here. There is no talent at Wide Receiver, no Veteran talent that is. Experience. I personally feel we have a bunch of No.2 and 4 receivers.
  • avatar

    @Niko Preston was effective in the slot when we used him saying that makes me chuckle a little bit
  • avatar


    To me, here is the most important key to this game because we are past winning the right way: hope that Ryan is pulled very early to rest and protect him; the same for their "injury Probables and most of their starters. Based on that analysis Bucs 26, Falcons 20. I am so frustrated as to why we did not put Trueblood and all the " injury Questionables" on IR and grab some Practice Squad Players from other teams? There was nothing to lose and just maybe we hit it lucky with one of them. Just my opinion. Go Bucs! Try your best.
  • avatar


    Everyone is looking for an explanation for how a team can drop so far defensively when the focus of the recent drafts has been on that side of the ball and appears to have some young, but talented players evidenced by the effort put on display last season and a few early games this year. So what happened? In my opinion Morris took on too much by thinking he could be both HC and DC and accomplished neither. Many times the defense appeared to be out-coached and out-schemed. Heck, Cam Newton was even laughing at it. A win today, even if somewhat tainted, would be important for the psyche of the team as it fades into the off-season. But is it even possible given the a$$whippin's the team has taken these past 10 weeks? Key # 1: Take some shots down field for crying out loud. Re-discover Preston Parker. Key # 2: Create some turnovers. Key # 3: Use the entire roster. How about throw the ball to Dotson when he plays the second TE? . Key # 4: Use the old Gritz Blitz and put Matty Ice have to ice down his body. Key # 5: Play the most physical game of the season and give the birds something to think about. Leave the game with a little pride.
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