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September 23, 2012 @ 6:28 pm
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Bucs' Five Keys To Victory Against Dallas - Revisited

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
In the Bucs' 16-10 road loss to the Cowboys, Tampa Bay fully accomplished only one of the keys needed to claim a victory in Arlington. The Bucs D-Line put pressure on Tony Romo for most of the game, sacking the Dallas QB four times and forcing two fumbles.
Key 1. Rope In Romo
On the opening drive, the Bucs put pressure on the Cowboys for the first two downs resulting in an Aqib Talib interception on third down.

Although the D-Line kept pressure on Romo throughout the first quarter, they didn’t get a ton of help from the secondary and a Bucs’ turnover resulted in a Dallas touchdown. In the second quarter, the Bucs pass rush let up again, and Romo had a ton of time to find open receivers. Luckily for Tampa Bay, Romo had several errant throws.

The D-Line continued to play very well against the run, allowing 39 yards on 23 attempts and a touchdown, and overall they put solid pressure on Romo throughout much of the game.

Gerald McCoy and Michael Bennett were both credited with two sacks, four tackles, and a forced fumble a piece, and the dynamic duo that was silent last week, made plenty of noise against the Cowboys. Roy Miller finished the game with three tackles, while Adrian Clayborn recorded one before going out in the beginning of the fourth quarter.

Grade A: Clayborn aside, that was the best effort of the D-Line thus far and at times felt like the entire game depended on Bennett, McCoy, and Miller. The trio came through and the Bucs were able to keep it a lot closer than they should have.

Key 2. Build a Fort Around Freeman
Having rookie tight end, Danny Noble, who barely sees the field go up against the sack master DeMarcus Ware panned out as well as you would think it would – Ware picked up a sack on Freeman. Ware had pressure on Freeman for what seemed like every play throughout the game, and for the first time this season, the Bucs pass protection was shaky at best.

Freeman had little to no time to throw the ball, and when he did, he seemed rushed and his timing was off. Way off. Freeman ended the game 10-for-28 for 110 yards, one touchdown, and a pick.

Grade D: The only thing keeping this grade from not being an “F” is that they only allowed two sacks to Ware despite Freeman being under pressure all day.

Key 3. Running Game Has To Find Its Legs
Doug Martin was sent up the middle on just about every first down and it just didn’t work, again. It appears as if the entire Bucs’ ground game playbook consists of runs up the middle. The run game is never going to get anywhere if they keep running the same plays over and over with the same results – nothing.

Martin ran for 53 yards on 16 carries, while LeGarrette Blount, D.J. Ware, and Freeman combined for 22 yards on six attempts.

Grade D-: There are so many things wrong with the Bucs’ running game right now. Why not an “F”? Because the running backs are being as productive as they can be given the circumstances. In addition to the rushing yards, Martin and Ware had a combined three catches for 32 yards.

Key 4. Secondary Needle Needs To Stay At Hot
Talib got the pick on the third play of the game, giving the Bucs’ offense great field position and Romo his first INT against the Bucs which lead to the second first quarter touchdown of the Bucs’ season.

Although the Bucs didn’t allow another 500+ yards in the air, they weren’t stellar against the pass either. The secondary still allows catches over the middle, but due to the pass rush being more effective this week, it did allow the secondary to be in position to cover better. They allowed the fewest passing yards in three games with 283, and only one receiver broke 100 yards – Miles Austin.

Grade B: Allowing 283 yards isn’t great, but it is much improved over the Giants game. They are still susceptible to big plays – Austin ripped a 49-yarder – but the overall coverage was much better.

Key 5. Speed Needs To Pay Off On Special Teams
Jordan Shipley was re-signed to the Bucs earlier in the week and muffed one punt and lost the ball, fair caught another, and in the other two returns had a long of nine.

Arrelious Benn downed all but one kickoff, returning it 15 yards.

The Bucs brought in several speedy receivers to handle return duties. At this point, going back to the rookie running back Michael Smith, who returned kicks throughout the preseason, has to be a consideration. Between the lack of return and running games, it can’t hurt and might actually spark something.

Grade F: Due to the lost fumble and both returners not doing anything to help the offense get better field position, there isn’t any other grade to give.

Last modified on Sunday, 23 September 2012 19:07

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  • avatar

    I agree wholeheartedly with all the grades given by Dory. We all knew during the preseason that the Bucs have no depth...and when you have no depth, that spells trouble for special teams. The defense was awesome. I hate to speak ill of a player who appears to be out for the season, but I watched the tape again of the Cowboys run for TD. The LT for Dallas (77) pushed A. Clayborn from the 11 yard-line into the end zone; and Clayborn had at most 1 tackle. Black also seemed to be MIA again. The rest of the D more than carried their own weight. And the offense...Geeeez!!!
  • avatar

    Maybe someone needs to tell Freeman that he can't throw the football with his eyes, he needs to use his arm? Here's an idea Josh, look at the wrong side of the field first and then where you intend to throw it, assuming you can't look back and forth like a normal NFL QB.
  • avatar

    The Ware sack when Noble was blocking him was on Freeman. It was a 3-step drop for a slant to the wideout, and Freeman stared at his one look and held the ball way too long. He should have thrown it away, looked to another option, or tries to run, as the line was not ready (or able) to block that long.
  • avatar

    PR, I am a bit disappointed in you guys. (1) There was no mention of Mike Sullivan on the most disappointing list in that article. When Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are literally laughing (happened a couple times) at your play calling, it has to be incredibly bad. (2) I know the team has an irrational, baseless hatred for LG Blount, but as media, you certainly shouldn't. There is specific mention of both Ware and Martin in this article, but nobody mentions that the only time the running game looked dynamic was when the ball was in Blount's hands. That's just poor reporting. In 4 articles covering the Cowboys game, there is exactly 1 one line mention of the guy who averaged 4.75 ypc on his inexplicably low 4 carries. He looked good, and the staff's bias against him is obvious in not questioning why Schiano didn't run him more when he looked as strong as he did. I believe that the carry total is already weighing on Doug Martin. We NEED to use Blount more for 2 very good reasons - (1) to protect DM and (2) because he's pretty ____ good at running the football.
  • avatar

    Benn is a terrible kickoff returner. He looks too tentative while he's doing it. I agree with going back to M. Smith; Schiano gave up on him too soon. Why can't we use a reasonable draft pick to get a guy whose only job is to return kicks and punts. Thanks a lot Dexter Jackson for scaring Dominik out of making that move.
  • avatar

    Freeman you suck & need 2 be replaced permanatley you clearly are not a franchise QB & YOU sure as hell dont have what it takes to play @ the next level,NOR DO YOU DESERVE THE STARTING JOB on this football team,your a BUST. Sullivan your an A$$HOLE with your stupid playcalling we should have never hired you.ALL you do is run,run,run,& run some more,your pathetic & predictable.Fu@% you for bailing on Blount.You'll be on your way out just like Greg Olsen. I guarantee it..Defense thank you for @ least keeping us in the game, @ least you gave us fans something 2 watch without having to cover our eyes or curse our TV up & down. And Sullivan, I know all of you read our comments so once again,from the bottom of my heart FU@# YOU!!
  • avatar

    kingbucc34, how do you really feel? (just kidding!)
  • avatar

    Any other coach would have made a qb change the way Freeman was throwing the ball and looking lost out there. Many things to scratch your head on, like Blount not playing, Benn running kickoffs back or not, offensive play calling and Smith inactive again. Schiano, this is on you. Lets start making changes that need to be made before it is too late!
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