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December 29, 2012 @ 7:06 pm
Current rating: 5.00 Stars/1 Votes

Bucs Five Keys To Victory Week 17: Atlanta Falcons

Written by Haley
Haley Cornish


Pewter Report Intern E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into their final game of the season against the division rival Atlanta Falcons with a five-game losing streak.  Below are five keys the Bucs should attempt to focus on to finish up the season and attempt to notch their seventh win of the season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into their final game of the season against the division rival Atlanta Falcons with a five-game losing streak. After a 6-4 start, finishing the season 6-10 with a six game losing streak will feel a lot like déjà vu for Bucs’ fans after last years 10-game skid.

Falcon’s Head Coach Mike Smith has yet to state whether or not he will rest his starters, simply stating they will play to win regardless of the circumstances. That makes it difficult to determine what the Bucs will need to do to win, in terms of stopping Falcons players.

Below are five keys that the Bucs will need to accomplish in order to win the game, regardless of who the Falcons play.

Key 1. Don’t Force It
Over the past two weeks Freeman has had two of his worst games of his career. He has forced the ball on multiple occasions, held the ball too long, and has looked indecisive in the pocket. Miscommunications and receivers slipping have caused some of the turnovers, but a large amount of the blame fall on the player making the decisions.

Freeman needs to stop trying to force the ball to make big plays, and instead look to make easy completions to gain his confidence. Some of this falls on offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan’s play calling, but most falls on Freeman. There have been a number of plays this season where Freeman has two options: force the ball to his receiver, or check it down the Doug Martin. Over the past month, Freeman has chosen to force the ball, which has caused a large number of his turnovers. He wants to make big plays for his team, instead of gaining yards to make a more manageable second or third down.

Key 2: Get Martin Going
Martin has cooled off in recent weeks after an outstanding mid-season performance. Many may attribute that to him hitting the “rookie wall”, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The injuries on the offensive line have caught up to the Bucs, and they are unable to make any sort of room for Martin to run. In fact, they have allowed Martin to be met in the backfield on multiple occasions.

The rookie’s struggles can also be blamed on the unimaginative run plays the Bucs have been running. With the offensive line struggling, running the ball up the middle on almost every play is not going to work. Martin’s successful runs over the past month have been to the outside, allowing him to be in the open field and make people miss.

Another way to get Martin more involved is screen plays. Martin has been very effective on screens this season, including the 64-yard touchdown against the Vikings. Screens are a great way to counter the blitz because there usually isn’t anyone accounting for the running back.

Key 3. Attention to Details
Prior to the start of the season, Coach Schiano stressed attention to detail on a daily basis. That seemed to pay off early in the season, but has been in decline over their losing streak. Whether it’s a miscommunication, being out of position on defense, or poor route running, details have caught up to the Bucs in recent weeks.

The Bucs need to get back to the detail-oriented, disciplined football they were playing before this five-game skid. To do that the Bucs will need to take a step back, refocus, and remember what their jobs are. Tampa Bay’s defense was able to do that, for the most part, last week and will need to continue to do that in order to stop whoever plays for the Falcons on Sunday.

Key 4: Understand the Need to Win
After last week’s loss to the Rams, the Bucs will finish the season with a losing record no matter the result in week 17, but Tampa Bay still has plenty to play for. They need to play for their fans; get fans hyped about next season by ending on a positive note. They need to play for themselves so they know they have the ability to finish a season. If the Bucs are in the playoff race at the end of next season, having the confidence in themselves and their teammates to finish the season could make a big difference.

Fans might think that beating the Falcon’s back-up players isn’t important. But losing to their back-up players would be detrimental to these young players’ confidence. Beating the second-stringers might not feel as good as beating the starters, but losing to them will feel a whole lot worse.

Key 5: Make it Count
There are a number of Buccaneer players who will be free agents next year, or who could simply be cut. DE Michael Bennett and DT Roy Miller are the biggest free agents from the Bucs. Bennett will likely be asking for a big contract and a big game in week 17 could help his case. Miller has stated on multiple occasions that he really wants to return next year and definitely could. He has been a huge part in the Bucs run defense, but the Bucs may want to get a DT opposite of Gerald McCoy that can rush, too.

Eric Wright could be in danger of leaving Tampa this offseason, but not as a free agent. The Bucs can get rid of Wright regardless of his guaranteed money next year because of his disciplinary issues. The Bucs could either cut him, or restructure his contract to a more reasonable price. If Wright has a great game on Sunday, it could be the difference between getting cut or remaining with the Buccaneers. Wright, along with the 2013 free agents, may consider Sunday’s game as their last chance to prove they deserve to be on the team in 2013.

Pewter Predictions
Haley Cornish: Buccaneers 27-24
Andrew Scavelli: Falcons 34-23
Mark Cook: Buccaneers 27-17

Last modified on Saturday, 29 December 2012 19:17

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  • avatar

    Scubog - Thanks for the keys and the hat tip. Cheers.
  • avatar

    At this point where it is the last game of the season, it is critical that this team plays like they did six weeks ago. Getting win is a plus, but playing good against their starters would be better.
  • avatar

    EastEndBoy, I'd love to see that happen too, but realistically, not likely. Just a couple of hours before the game, so let me be clear. If Atlanta comes to play and stays to play, I'm all in for the win. If they decide to take the preseason approach and take their 1st team off the field, then only two outcomes are likely and neither are good. If they still win, the haters, naysayers, and most of the media will never let us forget it. If we win and possibly drop out of the top ten of the draft, they will still say that the only way this really bad team can win is when they play NFL 2nd teams. And in that scenario, if the score is close, we will be lambasted even more. I'm sticking with my original position. BAAA!
  • avatar

    Hey macabee - I hear ya on the draft, but I honestly think nothing would be better for this team than to absolutely drop a bomb on ATL...blow them out of their own stadium...Freeman 400 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs; Martin 200 yards; 6 sacks and a few picks....all on the way to a 40-0 score. I know we would drop in the draft and any chance of getting one of the "guaranteed" pro-bowlers would be gone, but we should still be able to get a very good starter with pro-bowl potential to fill one of our huge holes. Let's say for argument's sake that Dom could pick up 1 CB in FA (Grimes?) - and maybe keep Wright - with all of the cap room he now has....and he uses picks 2, 3 and 4 on the secondary/linebacker, that would allow him to use the first round pick on the best player available...Eifert? An O-lineman? I like this whole scenario better for the team - for Freeman and Martin - even though it means not getting Te'o or Milner. I am pulling for an all out assault on the dirty birds right in their own backyard! GO BUCS!!!!
  • avatar

    Love your posts macabee. Just getting our own players back from IR will help tremendously. Given the opinion of some of my fellow Bucs fans I suppose I could just have one Key, Josh Freeman, because in their mind he's the only one that matters anyway. But since Mr Incredible seems to like my version; here are Scubog's Keys to Victory. Key # 1:"Dare to Compare" The Falcons are the 2012 Division Champions and maybe more. Earlier in the season the game was decided by a single point. That tells me that our team, in spite of the apparent weaknesses, was capable of playing toe to toe (on the line of course) with anyone. Regardless of who lines up for the Dirty Birds, the Bucs need to display the same effort they did previously. Key # 2: "Invade Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood" I really liked Jacquizz Rodgers coming out of college and actually fear him more than the wearing out Michael Turner. Our new Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy and run-stuffer, Roy Miller need to disrupt the run as they have all season. Key # 3: "The Eye in the Sky Don't Lie" As Warren Sapp often says, the film tells it all. Coach Schiano should remind the players that the game tape from this "meaningless" contest will be scrutinized during the off season to help identify those who have the right mindset and the ones that don't. Body language is a great communicator. Key # 4: "What's in the Cupboard?" Since this is the last game, I'd sure like to see Michael Smith return kicks. He can't do much worse than Roscoe Parrish and the collection of guys who have either knelt down in the endzone or dashed all the way out to the 15 yard line. Key # 5: "It's All About # 5" Other than a six teams who just happen to have an "elite" QB, the other 26 fan bases will debate adnauseam about their signal caller. Reality is, most are much more harsh on the one wearing their own colors than the remaining "normal" QB's. As my buddy JonnyG points out, the Cardinals and many of the 25 other teams would love to have a QB like ours. That said, Josh Freeman needs to play as he did earlier in the year when he looked like one of those "Super Six" so we don't have to spend the entire offseason discussing the likes of Alex Smith or, heaven help us, Tim Tebow.
  • avatar

    Scubog, very good. Here's hoping that Freeman will show some of us that he can be consistent and accurate when it is a must.
  • avatar

    I’m not afraid of being called a sheep. I’ve seen enough to know that this team has the underpinnings of a good team that could be great with a another foray into FA and another good draft. If the difference in winning a meaningless game is picking 6th or 16, then i'm looking ahead to next year. I would never ask my team to lay down, but if I’m the coach I’m saying all the right things, but knowing I could win a meaningless game and miss the opportunity to get a Manti Te’o, a Dee Milliner, a Luke Joeckel or even trading down to get additional picks, I’m playing my 1st team as long as Atlanta is playing their 1st team. When they take their 1st team off as in a preseason game, I’m taking my 1st team off too! Discretion is the better part of valor!
  • avatar

    Macabee, I am right with you.
  • avatar

    Good job Ms. Cornish.....and GO BUCS
  • avatar

    Love your stuff, HC. Good points.
  • avatar

    HCpewterreport, I like your Five Keys. Freeman should be feeling the pressure as he earned it. I hope he does well and I really mean that. Regardless of what Freeman does, this team is better and now more experienced. One more good Free Agency and draft and we are on the way. Go Bucs! Get this win!
  • avatar

    The key to victory the way we have been playing is when the Falcons bench all their starters.
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