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September 22, 2012 @ 11:30 am
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Five Keys To Victory Week 3: The Cowboys

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


Beat Writer E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Five keys hang in the balance of a Buccaneer victory over the Cowboys Sunday. One of the biggest problems the Bucs had last week was the inability to get the run game going and lost the time of possession battle, keeping the defense on the field foe extended periods of time. 
After leading the defending Super Bowl Champions by two touchdowns last week, the Bucs were outscored 28-10 in the second half and lost 41-34. The Bucs will head to Dallas to take on a Cowboys team who succeeded in beating the Giants week one, but suffered a tough loss in Seattle last week. Beat Writer Dory LeBlanc gives her thoughts on the five keys to a Bucs victory over the New York Football Giants

Key 1. Rope In Romo

Considering the amount of blitzing the Bucs have done in the first two weeks and the success it brought the Giants, the Buccaneer front four has to keep pressure on Tony Romo in order for the blitz to be effective. 

In week one against the Panthers, Gerald McCoy had two tackles and a sack on Cam Newton and kept the pressure on last year’s Rookie Of The Year throughout most of the game. In New York, McCoy registered another two tackles and a pass defensed, but wasn’t able to put the same amount of pressure on Eli Manning he did Newton the week before. 

Between Roy Miller, Gary Gibson, Michael Bennett and Adrian Clayborn, the rest of the D-Line recorded five more tackles, with Clayborn essentially a non-factor for the second week in a row with zero (against the Panthers he had one tackle). From the nose tackle, Miller and Gibson each had two tackles against the Giants and have been effective against the run, but the defensive ends have to get something going in the Dallas backfield this week. 

On paper, Clayborn will have the bigger challenge against Tyron Smith, but last year when the teams met and both players with rookies, Clayborn had four tackles and a sack on Romo, so he has already had success against Smith.

Everything starts up front. If the defensive line can put pressure on Romo and disrupt his timing, the linebackers and secondary will be able to have an easier time against the Cowboys then they did the Giants.  

Key 2. Build A Fort Around Freeman

Last week the Bucs O-Line did a great job keeping the Giants pass rush from getting to Freeman. They need to do it again as they face a very dangerous DeMarcus Ware.

In his first start at right tackle, Demar Dotson held off Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul, not allowing either to reach Freeman, as both sacks were not charged to Dotson. Dotson will not primarily face Ware, but Rob Ryan takes advantage of Ware’s versatility and the linebacker lines up everywhere.  

Donald Penn and Carl Nicks will have to keep Ware and the NFL’s leading tackler Sean Lee away from Freeman as much as possible. In two games Penn has allowed two sacks on Freeman’s blindside while Nicks handled anybody trying to get through on the inside. Hopefully, Penn and Nicks are in a rhythm now and the two have ironed out the wrinkles. 

When all is said and done, the Bucs sit with three other teams that have allowed four sacks through two games – around the middle of the pack – so they’re not in too  bad of shape, but they can’t let up against Dallas. 

Key 3. The Running Game Has To Find Its Legs

For a run-first team, the Bucs have yet to have success running the ball. As head coach Greg Schiano pointed out Friday, the ground game is one man away from the rushing attack breaking open - and that man isn't Doug Martin.

The offensive line, while solid in pass protection, hasn’t done Martin any favors making holes for the rookie to get through. Some of this can be attributed to less-than-stellar run blocking by FB Erik Lorig and TE Luke Stocker as well. 

Run blocking has to be a bigger focus for the Bucs or the stable of running backs won’t be able to break 100 yards for the second straight contest and more importantly, keep the defense off the field.

Key 4. Secondary Needle Has To Stay At Hot 

Through two games the Bucs have the worst pass defense in the league, allowing an average of 400 yards per game in the air. They also are tied atop the NFL with five interceptions. Right now, the pass defense is hot and cold, and needs to stay hot.

As mentioned above, the front four own some of the blame, but the secondary needs to do a better job in man coverage.

Against the Giants, both Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald’s interceptions came in zone coverage, but past the short-to-intermediate game, the man coverage was lacking. Victor Cruz (11 receptions, 179 yards, 1 TD) and Hakeem Nicks (10 receptions, 199 yards, 1 TD) had huge games mostly on long passes where they were able to get underneath the Bucs’ corners. Like the Giants, the Cowboys have a pair of very good receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant who can burn secondaries downfield.

If Key 1 can get itself together and put pressure on Romo, who can make bad decisions when rushed, the secondary will have a lot easier time making big plays and not letting them happen. 

Key 5. Speed Needs To Pay Off On Special Teams

This week the Bucs added three speedy wide receivers in Jordan Shipley, Tiquan Underwood, and Chris Owusu. All three have return capabilities, although Shipley has been the only one actually named as handling any return duties this week. Arrelious Benn returned kickoffs last week while Michael Smith was inactive, and Schiano said Friday he liked what Benn had done on kickoffs, so expect Smith to be inactive and Benn getting the nod this week.

The common denominator in the Bucs receiving-return corps is speed. Each player brings a different element of the trait, but they all have it in some form. 
Shipley’s speed was surprising in his first stint with the Bucs at the end of training camp. Not known for being a speedster, Shipley blew down the field when he was handling punt return duties.

Benn has a combination of speed and power and aside from the fumble on the first kickoff, had a strong day in his first NFL game as a return specialist; Benn averaged 27.5 yards per return and broke out for a 55-yarder.

Field position is always important, but with the speedy new additions the emphasis has to be to get down field as quick as possible and give Freeman and the offense as little field to work with as possible. Against a stout Dallas defense that is third in the league in yards per game, averaging 160.

LeBlanc's Prediction: Buccaneers 27-24 
Cook's Predicition: Buccaneers 24-21

Last modified on Saturday, 22 September 2012 18:33

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  • avatar

    Once again, another crap called offensive gameplan by Greg Olsen part 2.. Freeman sucks & we need a new QB, there is NO HOPE for him. And our offense just plain suck. THE YUCCS ARE BACK IN TOWN.. Its no wonder TAMPA residents wont sell out a home game. Mike Sullivan AKA Greg Olsen, your pathetic offensive play calling costs us yet another game 2 weeks in a row!!!!!!. So predictable.. RUN,RUN,RUN,RUN,RUN,PASS,RUN,RUN,RUN.. What a JackA$$!!!!!!!! What an embarassing ball club from top to bottom.
  • avatar

    KingBucs you're a little off base with that last statement because coach Schiano made some good calls on those challenges and has made a difference on the defense. They played their assets off today!. The defense really showed some teeth. Sheridan just needs to adjust on those slants because we're just not stopping them. Even though ONCE AGAIN this offense is a work in progress Sullivan could switch things up because he's really sucking on his predictable offense. I am officially off the Josh Freeman band wagon. He looked straight pathetic out there.
  • avatar

    just like you have your opionon, I also have mine. If I think that they are an EMBARASSMENT to me, then thats what it is. Im not off base on nothing I comment on, because like I said ITS MY OPINION..
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  • avatar

    Wow the announcer called it right, inept on offense. Sullivan keeps running on 1st down. Freeman misses Clark for a sure fire 1st down! No wonder they have no faith in him. Dallas receivers are constantly getting open. They can't keep it up with NO HELP NO FROM THE OFFENSE!!!
  • avatar

    I am officially off the Freeman bandwagon. He looks lost and once again is showing his inaccuracy in passing. Sullivan can go to absolutely no imagination on play calling. He can go, he's not the answer. Why do the corners keep giving up the slants? Three games and they still haven't made adjustments to it. Defense is playing strong especially the line!
  • avatar

    Scubog- Dude, you should be getting some kind of licensing fee from PR. Nice. cremdonado - Bane - hilarious.
  • avatar

    Scubog's Keys to Victory: Key # 1: "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry": Mark Barron needs to have a better day than CB Morris Clayborn to make Jerry Jones second guess his draft day maneuver as he plays DIY with a football team. Key # 2: "Cool, Calm & Collected": The Cowboys home-opener is sure to be a packed house with lots of pomp and excitement from Cowboys fans who, like the rest of America (and Mexico), just can't accept the fact their team is nothing special. But hold on Buccos; at the first sign of defeat they will hit the exits. Just go in there, ignore the fanfare and keep working. Key # 3 "Stop or My Mom Will Shoot": Aqib Talib is from Texas and no doubt will have a contingent of family and friends in the stands, including his pistol toting mama. All # 25 has to do is hint to WR Dez Bryant that, "Hey, Dez, my mama is watching you." Key # 4 "Scar the Star" Tony Romo is a pretty boy. Need to rough him up every chance we get. Key # 5: "Open the Roof" I know, Jerry thinks he has to open his roof as wide as his ego to allow God to watch his favorite team. Scubog has a different reason to add the ventilation. To get the manure smell out of there. Wouldn't it be great to see Jerry Jones in his luxury suite with his arms folded in that Dungyesque pose and his Texas sized frown with the mighty Bucs in victory formation. Back up Josh.
  • avatar

    The more I see of coach,the more he reminds me of Bane from the batman movie....
  • avatar

    I absolutely agree Barry...the Romo-Witten connection has been one of profound success for a good many years now...if the offense can't find a way to get D Clark more involved, then the defense will end up playing many more 80+ play games because of a most aggravatingly inept offense...which usually leads to way more losses than wins.
  • avatar

    I hope we get Dallas Clark more involved in our offense to sustain drives keep from going 3 and out as often. We have the weapons on offense to do great things. Maybe pass successfully to help sit up the run , instead of run to sit up the pass.
  • avatar

    Don;t see the Buc's taking this one. We have a weak secondary and no pass rush. Looks like another 300+ yds. passing.
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