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October 13, 2012 @ 11:20 am
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Bucs' Five Keys To Victory Week 6: The Chiefs

Written by Dory
Dory LeBlanc


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Five keys hang in the balance of a Buccaneer victory over the 1-4 Chiefs at home on Sunday. The Bucs needs to capitalize on Kansas City's turnover trend and get the ball in the end zone and for the defense, stopping the league's most productive RB Jamaal Charles has to be a major focus. 
The Bucs boast the fourth-best run defense in the NFL, holding opponents to an average of 73.8 yards per game on the ground, but unfortunately, the Chiefs are second running the ball, averaging 180.8 yards per game. Kansas City will be without starting QB Matt Cassel and will look to Brady Quinn to be under center Sunday. Quinn hasn't started a regular season game in three seasons, and will be rusty at best, adding even more workload to the league's most productive back, Jamaal Charles. Tampa Bay has an advantage in the turnover department, forcing eight through four games, while Kansas City has coughed up the ball 19 times through five contests. All signs point to a Buccaneer victory - if the defense can stop Charles and the offense can score off of turnovers. If they can't, it may be a long afternoon at Ray Jay. 

Key 1. Offense Must Cash In Turnovers
Kansas City has a whopping 19 giveaways this year in five games. How many games have the Bucs lost by a touchdown or less? Three. You shouldn’t count solely on Tampa Bay winning by the defense producing turnovers, but with eight through their four games, it would help. Through four games the Bucs have had one or two defining moments which have caused them to lose those three games, and one or two touchdowns off of a turnover can’t hurt. 

The challenge will be the offense capitalizing on those turnovers. The Chiefs defense is 28th in the league in points allowed with an average of 29 points per game, but is eighth in the NFL in passing defense with an average of just under 206 yards allowed per contest.

The Bucs have struggled both in scoring and passing yards ranked 28th in points scored (20.5 points per game) and 29th in passing yards per game with 185. The 293 yards in the air against the Redskins were a good sign that the deep passes were still alive in the playbook as they were against the Giants, but Tampa Bay is coming off a bye week so they’ve had extra time to draw up new plays and tinker with existing ones.

The offensive playbook may look different than it has through the first quarter as offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is trying his best to call plays that utilize quarterback Josh Freeman’s strengths and weapons. We’ve seen Freeman have success with the deep ball already this season, and as much as people may not necessarily be happy with the fourth-year QB, the truth is he played sufficiently against Washington.

If the Bucs’ offense can get in a rhythm early they should be able to keep the momentum going in their favor when the defense does force Chiefs’ turnovers. 

Key 2. Stop Charles In Charge
This may be a no-brainer when it comes to stopping the Chiefs this year, but it still needs to be said. You stop the Kansas City ground attack, you win the game. 
With quarterback Matt Cassel out, the Chiefs are starting Brady Quinn, who before last week hadn’t played in a regular season game since 2009. Expect Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel to use Jamaal Charles more than he has their first five games. Shaun Draughn is listed as probable after suffering an ankle injury that had him limited in practice earlier in the week and Cyrus Gray is listed as questionable with an illness that kept him out of practice Thursday and Friday. Those factors could put even more of a workload onto Charles. 

The Bucs’ fourth ranked defense defending the run will be in for a tough day stopping the league’s top back that already has 551 yards on the season and an astounding 5.3 yards per carry. Charles pounds the inside as well as has the speed to get outside for long breakaways. However, Tampa Bay may be at a slight disadvantage if NT Roy Miller cannot go on Sunday. 

Miller suffered what appears to be a non-football related back injury and is a game-time decision. Miller has played well against the run and is the Bucs’ first form of defense to fill the gaps made by a very good offensive line. Should Charles’ former teammate at Texas and good friend not be able to go, Gary Gibson will step in in his place. 

The linebackers will also have to play smart and make their tackles and should have help from rookie safety Mark Barron who will play in the box Sunday for run support. 

The Buccaneers have been careful not to say stopping Charles is essentially stopping the Chiefs offense this week, so we’ll say it for them. 

Key 3. Pave The Way
Not much was made about Tampa Bay signing blocking tight end Nate Byham the Tuesday before the bye, but Byham was specifically brought in to be an extra blocker on the line. The 49ers’ sixth round selection in the 2010 draft was reunited with his former position coach Brian Angelichio who knows full well what Byham can after coaching the former Pittsburgh Panther to an All-Big East nod in 2009. 

The Bucs offensive line has held off fierce pass rushers extremely well this year, having allowed only seven sacks on Freeman through four games. For comparative purposes, 27 starting quarterbacks have been sacked more than Freeman, so in pass protection the big guys up front have been doing their jobs.

Where the O-Line has struggled has been in run blocking and with little help in that area from TEs Dallas Clark, Luke Stocker, and Danny Noble, the addition of Byham may be more important to the Bucs establishing a ground game than initially thought. 

If Tampa Bay can get their ground game going, they will naturally control the clock and keep themselves on the field, giving relief to a defense who will be pounded on by the Chief’s running game every time they’re on the field.

Key 4: Get It Together On Third Downs
The Buccaneer offense has converted an abysmal 26 percent of third downs so far this season and that just has to improve. The reason is a combination of Sullivan’s play calling and Freeman inability to execute; and with the week off, hopefully some things have been worked out by both. 

Getting out of third-and-long situations obviously starts with the first two downs, so it will be interesting to see what changes have been made to the playbook in the bye week. Running draws up the middle hasn’t worked as efficiently as the Bucs would have liked, so maybe some bootlegs or sweeps are in order. 

Doug Martin’s longest rushes have come to the outside, and facing a Kansas City defense ranked 22nd against the run, getting closer to the down marker the first two attempts is a very real possibility.

Key 5: Force Quinn To Write Checks He Can’t Cash
As much as the Bucs need to convert their own third downs, they have to force Kansas City into third-and-longs as much as possible. 

The Chiefs are fifth in the NFL, converting 46 percent of third downs, but that was with the passing Cassel under center. Quinn does have arm strength, but what he lacks is repetitions (see Key 2). If the Bucs can slow down Charles enough to force Quinn to throw, the turnover ratio will lean even further in the Bucs’ favor.

Six Buccaneers have six interceptions on the season, lead the league in most negative yardage plays with 41, and have registered eight sacks. Although Quinn is a lot more mobile than the pocket-friendly Cassel, his lack of playing time may lead to mental mistakes – and can swing the Bucs back around to Key 1 above.   

Reynolds: 23-16 Buccaneers
Cook: 20-16 Buccaneers
LeBlanc: 23-10 Buccaneers
Last modified on Saturday, 13 October 2012 20:14

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  • avatar

    Well done Scubog!! Your starting to be the most enjoyable read on this site.
  • avatar

    Scubog, you're so true about your Key #1 ... We have a history of making back up (QB, RB ...) looks like all Pro. I'm holding my breath. To me, it's a must win game. We lost some heart breaking games before against very good team. We must be able to win against a subpar team like KC. This game will speak volume about our futur ...
  • avatar

    Scubog's Keys to Victory. #1.) "Ain't Seen Nothin' Like the Mighty Quinn" : Don't be so quick to think Brady Quinn isn't capable having a good game. I've seen several times over the years when a back-up QB enter a game with virtually no pressure since he's not "the man" and have a career game. Anyone remember Charlie Batch killing us? Don't take Quinn lightly. #2.) "Romeo, Romeo, Where the Heck are you Romeo": The Chief's head coach knows he got this position because the team responded to him the last few games in 2011. But what has he done lately? Need to make his defensive game plan look ill-advised so he continues to have his credibility questioned. #3.) The Gift that Keeps on Giving" : The Chief's players know their games have been lost because of turn-overs. The mighty Bucs need to force one early to let that "here we go again" mentality infest their thought process. # 4.) "Homie Don't Like That": Josh Freeman's hometown team is the Chiefs. Josh needs to make Kansas City regret they didn't draft the local product when they had the chance. # 5.) "Use All the Tools or Look Like Fools": I've always been a believer in using every offensive weapon in the arsenal. Let's make use of all of them today. There's more than Jackson and Martin at Josh's disposal. Bonus Key!!!! "Make this a Home Game": Get ahead early and stay ahead. I'm sick of having so many fans (who live withing 50 miles of here) donning the opponent's colors and having to listen to them chant as they exit the stadium after defeating the "home" team.
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