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August 24, 2012 @ 11:44 am
Current rating: 4.50 Stars/2 Votes

Bucs' Five Keys For Success Against Pats

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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After a 30-7 loss to the Tennessee Titans last week in Tampa Bay's preseason home opener, here are five keys that are necessary for the Buccaneers to have a victorious outing against the Patriots on Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.
1. Josh Freeman Needs To Play Like Tom Brady
Freeman, who is expected to play the majority of the first half and possibly into the third quarter, needs to play like a starting franchise quarterback by moving the chains and putting touchdowns on the board. In order for teams like the Buccaneers to beat teams like the Patriots, that has a stud quarterback like Brady, Freeman will have to rise to the occasion and be Brady-like. That means no turnovers, completing a high percentage of his passes and putting the ball in the end zone and not having the offense settle for field goals.

Freeman is the key to the Bucs’ offensive production in 2012 and needs to get a head start on the season with so many new weapons and a new offensive playbook. With the season opener against Carolina just around the corner, Freeman needs an extended look in this game to be able to dissect the tape and make adjustments accordingly before taking on their divisional rivals.

2. With Penn Back, O-Line Needs To Rebound
Last week against the Titans, the offensive line was largely responsible for the lack of production from the quarterbacks and running backs. Tampa Bay had only 81 yards of offense, six first downs and Freeman and Dan Orlovsky couldn’t get anything going after being under constant pressure. In order for Freeman to get comfortable in the pocket and the ground game to gain momentum, the offensive line has to step up, especially after such an abysmal performance against Tennessee last week.

Part of the turnaround begins with the return of left tackle Donald Penn who needs to play up to his Pro Bowl potential. Despite missing the all of training camp with a calf injury, Penn looks like he is in good physical condition. The biggest negative Penn will have entering the Patriots game isn’t physical, but mental. Penn’s return is significant as he and Carl Nicks need to start building chemistry on the left side of the line the way Nicks and Demar Dotson were starting to do before Penn returned to practice. If Penn and Nicks can gel quickly, and if Penn can live up to his potential, Freeman should feel a little bit safer and the running back duo of Doug Martin and LeGarrette Blount will be more productive between the tackles.

3. It’s Time For The Defensive Line To Start Getting Sacks
Pressuring the quarterback is not enough. The defensive line must start getting signal callers on the ground. There’s no better time to rise to the occasion than sacking a quarterback like Brady that is hard to bring down. Through two games, the defensive line hasn’t sniffed the quarterback in terms of sacks or even knockdowns. The only sack the Bucs have recorded this preseason was by blitzing linebacker Dekoda Watson. Michael Bennett, who is playing for the injured Da’Quan Bowers, and Adrian Clayborn have a lot of pressure on them, but a healthy Gerald McCoy should be able to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks as well.

4. Bucs Must Show Progress By Tackling Better
After a sound showing in terms of tackling and producing three-and-outs against Miami in the 20-7 win in preseason opener, Tampa Bay took a huge step back with its tackling after the first three defensive series against Tennessee. The tackling became so bad that it looked like the Bucs had reverted back to 2011 form against the Titans.

Tackling is a fundamental part of football and far too often this preseason, that fundamental has been lost among some of the Buccaneer defenders. Making big plays is nice, but handling your responsibilities and assignments should be first order of business.

Earlier in the week the Bucs worked on tackling the feet/ankle and ran dive tackle drills to ensure the opposing player is brought down by any legal means. Drafting safety Mark Barron and linebacker Lavonte David should help in this area as both were very strong tacklers in college. Unfortunately, due to their lack of NFL experience both players are on a learning curve, and although they can both make immediate impacts, they can’t be the sole providers of dishing out punishment to the Patriots.

5. Tampa Bay’s Tight Ends and Fullbacks Need To Block Better
One of the biggest downfalls of Luke Stocker out of last week’s game was the blocking integrity. The fullbacks and tight ends struggled to block effectively in the ground game, leaving LeGarrette Blount, Doug Martin et al to rely solely on the offensive line to block the outside edge. Between the tackles Nicks, Jeremy Zuttah, and Davin Joseph were able to open up slight gaps at times, but the fullbacks just couldn’t securing the outside was a definite weakness – completely unacceptable for a run-first offense. 
- Scott Reynolds contributed to this article
Last modified on Friday, 24 August 2012 12:12

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  • avatar

    Josh needs to play effectively when the game starts. Not in the third quarter. Otherwise, next year look for a new QB.
  • avatar

    I just want to say that I don't believe McCoy has generated less pressure than either Clayborn or Bennett based on what I've seen. All 3 need to get all they've been practicing down to muscle memory and diagnose faster and get there. At least with the 3 of them healthy this year it's possible for a sack to come from any 1 of the 3 instead of only 1 or 2 threats. The one thing I wish was that someone in the middle generated more pressure by collapsing the pocket with sheer force rather than with a quick first step. I'll be happy with sacks however we get them though... Go Bucs.
  • avatar

    Here's my five Keys for Success Against the Pats: Bennett, McCoy, Miller, Clayborn, Q. Black; everything else can be worked out once Regular Season begins when the vanilla plays are changed to match the team we are playing.
  • avatar

    Thank you PewterReportDL for your Five Keys.
  • avatar

    Thanks for the review Dory. I'm with you on most of it, especially Penn, Tackling and Blocking. I think Josh just needs to play like Josh however, and not try to be Brady. If he can be the low turnover, high completion percentage Josh of 2 years ago, then he will have a very successful year in large part because the team brought in players that can take those receptions and make special things happen after the catch. If Josh tries too hard - i.e. tries to be Brady - I think he may become the Josh of 2011....yikes! The other area I am less concerned about is sacks - here I like what coach has been saying, 'it's about affecting the QB, not about getting sacks'. Of course we would all love to see the Bucs getting lots of sacks, but as long as they are getting pressure, causing havoc in the backfield, I think good things will happen for the team.
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