by Douglas O’Connor
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The weekly piece that goes deeper than “Win the turnover battle” and “Establish the run” for “Keys to victory” against the ________. This week the Dallas Cowboys.
Spread Out The Defense: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went under the hood after the Thursday Night game against the Atlanta Falcons, did some fine tuning and turned their season around. Most if not all of the changes that were talked about have been on the defensive side of the ball. What has gone largely unnoticed was the Bucs commitment to keep Jameis Winston on his feet. Since the Chicago game Dirk Koetter has called a ton of max protection to keep Jameis upright. You can’t complete a pass if the quarterback doesn’t have enough time to throw it. Look for this recent philosophy to change Sunday night against the Cowboys.
Dallas’s pass rush doesn’t scare opposing teams and has been a talking point for Cowboys fans and media members all season long because of their lack of production. The Bucs have the opportunity to get more receivers and backs out into the route. Which in turn will spread out the Cowboys coverage and open more windows for Winston to throw into. The lack of a threatening Dallas pass rush could open up the Buccaneers offense and lead to the offensive explosion Buc fans have been waiting for.
Ali Marpet vs Sean Lee: Dallas Cowboys WLB Sean Lee has 130 tackles on the season, good enough for 2nd in the NFL. Lee is coming off a franchise record 22 team credited tackles against the NY Giants last Sunday night. Doug Martin hasn’t had a big run so far this year. On those plays where he is just a step or two from breaking one, most have come behind Kevin Pamphile and Donovan Smith. This may come has a surprise since Marpet is widely considered the Bucs best offensive lineman. The reason for this is that the Buccaneers use Ali’s ability to get to the 2nd level and cut off the backside pursuit. Lee has more than twice as many tackles as any other linebacker on the Cowboys roster and lines up on the weak side of the formation. Look for the Bucs to run left and pin their hopes on Marpet’s athleticism to hamper Lee enough to break off a big gain.
Jason Witten & Sealver Siliga: Dallas Cowboy TE Jason Witten in all likely hood will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame someday. In the past two games Witten only has 4 catches for 26 yards, not surprisingly, arguably the Cowboys worst two offensive performances. Teams are taking away Prescott’s security blanket, look for the Bucs to do the same.
Buccaneers DT Sealver Siliga is an immovable object. the Cowboys offensive line an unstoppable force. Whomever wins this match up on 1st down will determine how well Ezekiel Elliott plays Sunday night.
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Thanks for reading and as always GO BUCS!