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September 29, 2012 @ 12:27 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs' Five Keys To Victory Week 4: The Redskins

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Five keys hang in the balance of a Buccaneer victory over the Redskins at home on Sunday. The Bucs' offense needs to click and the defensive front four needs to keep the pressure on the athletic rookie QB Robert Griffin III and the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL.
The Bucs boast the best run defense in the NFL, holding opponents to an average of 47.3 yards per game on the ground, but the pass defense is another story. Last Sunday in a 16-10 loss in Dallas, Michael Bennett and Gerald McCoy were able to sack Tony Romo four times, forcing four fumbles and need to the momentum to continue against the league's top scoring defense and its super-athletic QB Robert Griffin III. Offensively, Tampa Bay needs to get the air game going against a passing defense ranked 31st, one step higher than the Bucs.

Key 1. Get To Griffin
The Bucs will be without last year’s sack leader Adrian Clayborn Sunday, and in his place will be Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. In college, Te’o-Nesheim set a Washington record with 30 careers sacks and was selected in the third round of the 2010 draft by Philadelphia. After spending his rookie season sidelined with a shoulder injury, Te’o-Nesheim was released the following year during final roster cuts and was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad. The Bucs signed him in November after needing to add depth on the defensive line. Te’o Nesheim is a solid pass rusher and filled in sufficiently when Clayborn went down in Dallas last week.

Te’o-Nesheim may catch a break as Redskins left tackle Trent Williams is listed as questionable following a knee injury sustained last week that has limited him in practice all week. Bad news – Robert Griffin III is a stellar athlete and has the ability to move quickly out of the pocket.

Against Cincinnati Griffin was sacked six times, but expect head coach Mike Shanahan to make the proper adjustments in an attempt to not have that happen against a Bucs front four that sacked Tony Romo four times, forcing two fumbles.

Getting to Griffin will be no small task. The electrifying quarterback will be as Bucs’ head coach Greg Schiano said this week will be one of the five fastest players on the field Sunday. The Bucs’ D-Line will need to match the intensity and they are all up to the challenge.

Key 2. Free Freeman
Josh Freeman was expected to have a big year and so far it just hasn’t happened. Part of this is play-calling, which hasn’t allowed Freeman to move much out of the pocket or throw downfield as much as he is able. Freeman’s skillset gives him the ability to extend plays with his legs and not be primarily a pocket passer like the Mannings or Tom Brady. Freeman isn’t exactly quick enough to be an RG3-type QB either, but he can throw on the run like Tony Romo does.

The Bucs have a “play ball-secure football” mentality which hasn’t allowed much to the imagination and at times has been safe and predictable. This week, offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan and Freeman both eluded that the Bucs haven’t exactly unleashed their entire playbook. Against the 31st ranked passing defense, it’s time to show more than they have. Of course, a lot of the execution depends on the next key.

Key 3. Receive More, Drop less
In the first three games of the season, the Bucs receivers have caught 41 passes out of 79 targets. That includes running backs, full backs, and tight ends. Not all of the throws have been catchable, but many have been.

Vincent Jackson was considered the premier wide receiver of free agency, and when the Bucs landed him for five years, $55.5+ it was widely assumed that the passing game would immediately become Tampa Bay’s strong suit. Unfortunately, Jackson hasn’t lived up to his pre-signing billing or shown he is the Pro Bowl receiver he was in San Diego, catching 10 out of a possible 27 passes in three games.

There is always a learning curve and chemistry needs to build between a QB and WR, but both Freeman and Jackson have said on numerous occasions they began spending time together both on and off the field as soon as Jackson arrived in Tampa.

Again, this may not be all on Jackson or Freeman. Many factors come into play, like coverage and protection, but if the ball hits your hands, catch it. It’s simple, fundamentally sound, ball-secure football. Isn’t that what this offense is all about?

Key 4. Benn Needs To Get Role-ing
Arrelious Benn came back from a knee injury he suffered on the first day of training camp in a collision with CB E.J. Biggers, and was immediately inserted into the role of kick returner.

Against the Giants, Benn returned seven kickoffs for 180 yards, an average of 25.7 yards per return. Last week in Dallas, Benn returned one for 15 yards, while kneeling in the end zone three times on touchbacks.

Benn is probably not going to take off out of the end zone, so expect more of the same if Billy Cundiff kicks any touchbacks. But what about Benn’s role in the offense?

The Bucs’ second round draft pick in 2010 sat out the Carolina game and only handled kick returns in New York. Dallas was the first time he was used on offense and caught the only pass thrown at him for an eight yard gain. With the release of Preston Parker, Benn has been implemented as the slot receiver, a role that should fit his ability to get open across the middle quickly off the snap; but he could also be used as a possession receiver on third downs given his size (6-2, 218 pounds).

The Bucs had high hopes when they drafted the third-year receiver out of Illinois where he was used in several different facets, and it’s time they collect on his versatility. 

Key 5. On The Same Page
It’s not a stretch to think the Bucs could be 3-0 heading into Sunday. The biggest reason they are fighting to get back to an even record is not everything has clicked together.

Schiano has admitted that certain phases have played well at times, but all three have yet to click. The head coach also stated that there is a sense of urgency this week.

Field position needs to be established on special teams – both for the Bucs offense by the return game and by pushing the opposing team back as far as possible. The Bucs rank last in the league in punt returns (4.3 average per return), 22nd in kick returns (22.3 yards per return), and Michael Koenen is 28th among NFL punters with an average of 42.5 yards per punt. With the emphasis Schiano and his staff has placed on special teams and the carousel of punt returners brought in and out so far this season, the Bucs should be at the top of the league. The two bright spots on special teams have been the solid tackling and fantastic kicking of Connor Barth. In a way, the special teams need to come together within their own phase.

The defense is inconsistent as well, ranked at the top of the NFL in rushing defense holding offenses to 47.3 yards per game and 2.3 yards per carry. However, when it comes to passing defense it’s a different story. Tampa Bay is at the bottom of the league rankings with 353 yards allowed in the air per game, but tied with three other teams for second-most interceptions with six. What that means is the Bucs are getting beat on some big plays, while making some big ones of their own. If the defense can put a halt to the opposition’s big plays, this defense could really strike some fear into offensive coordinators’ playbooks.

We’ve talked about the offensive woes ad nausea this week, so it doesn’t need repeating. Play-calling, allowing Freeman to extend plays, and receiving have got to come together, and facing the ninth-ranked defense against the run and 31st in passing, this is the week to do it.

LeBlanc's Prediction: 24-21 Buccaneers
Cook's Prediction: 26-17 Buccaneers
Reynolds Prediction: 27-20 Buccaneers

Last modified on Saturday, 29 September 2012 15:12

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  • avatar

    we have to make blount the starter. there is tape on blount with the box stacked and then some and he is still making spectacular plays, first downs, big yards and touchdowns. it's not just me that sees it, everybody sees it. all the passes thrown at blount this year he's caught, he hasn't missed a blocking assignment either. if everything i wrote was off of feelings and not visual recorded facts, it would make since for us not to put blount in but everything i have wrote can be verified by film tape and asking opposing defenses ( green bay , etc). i think that doug has a lot of potential.... but you don't win games with potential, you win them with performance. there is a lot of tape and film that reenforces putting blount at the starting position. plus ask yourself, who would you wether give 25 plus carries a game to..... blount or martin? then ask the opposing defense which rb you don't want to see play this sunday even with the box stacked. BLOOOOUUUUNNNNT. the starting rb of the tampa bay bucs playoff team, if we use him.
  • avatar

    Its amazing how fans feel that Blount is better than Martin...the play calling is so predictable.The defenses are now stacking the box on first down and the Bucs for some strange reason is still running every first down.Martin can do it all but the Bucs are just running him up the middle.When the Bucs drafted Martin..it was like saying we can now pass on first down with our starting back in the game..something we couldnt really do last season.Where are the screen plays and the draws plays
  • avatar

    if shiano wants to compete for a playoff spot blount will become the starter, not just a sighting, BECOME THE STARTING RUNNING BACK FOR THE TAMPA BUCCANEERS. he will utilize blount to max capacity.... after all in the past blount's shown that when used he will produces. by shiano making blount the starter, he's will be making the whole team better. the offense will be able to substain more drive, the offense will stay on the field longer that means the opposing defense will be on the field longer in turn keeping are defense off the field longer so when they do come in they are fresh .... i think shiano knows this..... i hope so? if shiano is ready to be a nfl coach he will use doug as a change of pace back and third down back maybe even the 3rd and 4th quarters when the opposing defense is tired after being beat up on all day.... MAYBE ( if blount is tired). who would you prefer to get 25 or more carries a game, blount or martin, plus ask the opposing team's defense which rb would they prefer to play against on sunday ( ask the cardinals) ??? if shiano has grasped the nfl and this thing isn't to big for him, he will but freeman in shotgum formation where he had the most success. if this team is going to compete for a playoff spot, shiano has to set freeman loose, tell free what raheem told him when had his most successful year, look for reciever 1, than 2, than 3, than 4, than the dump off man and if no dump off man, TAKE OFF, go out there and win the game freeman your are leader. encourage freeman to run ball. week five is getting closer and closer, tell me what you think then. shiano has an opportunity to be a successful nfl coach or bad memory to some fans. the door is slowly closing. i hope he figures this nfl coaching thing out real soon. good luck shiano and go bucs.
  • avatar

    does anyone know why michael smith is no longer returning kicks? is he hurt? have not seen him on the field at all...we could be 3-0, but i think the play of freeman and some of the play calls have to be much better from here on out...defense is playing very well and numbers could be better if we could have cashed in on a few missed opportunities...
  • avatar

    I'd like to see 5 pass plays in a row out of our 15 first scripted. Not bombs away, but a swing pass to a back to start, a short pass to a tight end, a quick slant, easy stuff to get Josh going, receiver screen,regular screen. Some little confidence boosters to get Josh on track. The worst thing we can do to him is one chance on third, and long.
  • avatar

    Great job Scubog!!! And right on the money!!
  • avatar

    I hope we see Blount more. If Martin falters again this week changes have to be made
  • avatar

    The Bucs would have had a much better run back specialist if they had just resigned Michael Spurlock, who had progressed very well as a pass receiver two years ago, and then Rom just let him rot on the bench last year as the ship sunk. that was not his fault. After all he still holds the records for runback touchdowns for the Bucs and he was treated very shabbily. If he was not picked up by another team, Schiano should have picked him up to play this week. However, I understand the player he signed is a good runback specialist in his own right; so I hope special teams will pick up this week.
  • avatar

    Scubog's Keys to Victory: 1.) "Easy as 1,2, RG3" So far the young rookie QB has had his way with the opponents. But by now, the defensive coaching staff should have a pretty good idea about what he feels comfortable doing enough to make it just a little more difficult for him. 2.) "Raheem has no Scheme" The Redskins have one of the worst pass defenses in the league. But, then again, "stats are for losers". Just a hunch here, but perhaps our offensive coordinator has noticed and will dial up a few more passing plays to exploit the opponent's weakness. 3.) "More Blount, Less Runt. No Punt" Hey, I'm all for our rookie RB Martin who I think can be an effective feature back. But right now, the offensive needs a little attitude. 4.) "Star of David" With no connection to the Jewish symbol; LB Lavonte needs to shine in this game and make it RG3 and out. 5.) "Vincent Ran Go" Send our prize free agent WR running a few go routes and maybe, just maybe there won't be 9 men at the line of scrimmage waiting for the Muscle Hamster to slam into them. And a bonus Key: "Jail to the Redskins!" Come on Rah, take your new defensive backs to the Blue Martini for a few too many and get on the bus to Orient Road.
  • avatar

    LOVE IT!!!! Couldn't agree more. The last key was GREAT.
  • avatar

    Dory, you are right on. Freeman has got to be consistent the whole game and we have to have around four hundred yards of Offense to win this game. I think the Defense is quick enough to cause Griffin problems. Go bucs! Take this Win!
  • avatar

    This is the game where it comes together. What this team really needs is a blowout win for confidence, national spotlight, and to get the fair weathers back in the seats to stop the @&!?!!! Blackouts -- let's be as loud as possible to all of us who are going to be there -- go bucs!
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