The Saints are on the road once again and it’s another NFC South opponent in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans pulled out a victory last week in Carolina, a win that was a little too close for comfort. On the other side of the ball ,Tampa Bay can’t wait to play Sunday to get that bad taste of losing to San Francisco 48-3 out of their mouth. This game will be a good back and forth battle , hopefully the Bucs can play a little better this week as opposed to the way they played last week. (or not)
Another week down ,another week facing a new group of guys to plan for on the special teams. The kicker Connor Barth has been with the team the last three years and they signed their punter this offseason Michael Koenen , away from their division rival Atlanta. It seems the Saints have been getting lucky the last couple of weeks as they get another opponent that doesn’t have a threat to take it all the way back. Preston Parker has been the primary returner for the Bucs this season but dont’t be surprised to see Sammie Stroughter and Micheal Spurlock returning as well. The one good thing I have seen on film watching the Bucs is the youth throughout their special teams. It helps to have young and speedy guys on your special teams keeping the other established guys on the sidelines to make plays on offense and defense.
How to take advantage?
The Bucs will need that young and speedy guys on special teams as Darren Sproles will be returning kicks this week. I would like to take a break for a minute and say how great a signing Darren has been. He has to be the steal of the offseason and I know for a fact he is so much better than Reggie Bush ( how is that feature back working out for down there in Miami for you Reggie?) Now that I got out the way, let’s use that youth against the Bucs this week by doing some out of the ordinary such as a fake punt ,reverse on the kickoff or onside kick to start the game.
This defense in the last two games gave up 48 to San Francisco and let Curtis Painter pass for 281 in his first career start on a Monday night game. The Bucs have a good young foundation of talent to build around on defense . It starts on the defensive line, once thought to be a weakness it has become a strength with the drafting of such guys like Gerald McCoy (editor’s note: McCoy is listed as “out”) Brian Price, Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers. These guys are good at stopping the run and getting pressure on the quarterback but the thing that I am impressed with is they have a solid rotation of guys on the defensive line, one guy goes down they have another guy that steps right in. The linebackers and secondary have been another story as this season goes on. They have been the weak link of the defense letting offense rack up a ton of passing yards. This does not bode well with the Saints coming to town.
How to take advantage?
The Bucs are good at stopping the run and have problems stopping the pass, so this fits what the Saints do best. I fully expect that Drew will get his yards but the one thing that they need to work on is turning those field goals into touchdowns. The last couple of weeks it seems the Saints have no problem driving down the field but when they get in the red zone they freeze up and have to settle for field goals. This game hopefully the Saints work out the kinks and beat the Bucs, not letting them hang around giving them a chance to pull out a upset win.
The Offense revolves around Josh Freeman, and the third year quarterback has been better than expected for Tampa Bay. Last year he put up all-pro numbers leading Tampa Bay to ten wins, just missing the playoffs. The Bucs have given Josh some playmakers on offense such as LeGarrette Blount (editor’s note – listed as doutbful for this game), Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams. The combo of Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams will give the Saints second thoughts of blitzing leaving these guys in single coverage. It’s offensive line is a veteran group that features a former Saint in Jeff Faine and they do a good job creating holes for LeGarrette Blount but they have given up nine sacks this year.
How to take advantage?
While Josh Freeman had a great year last year, he is a little sluggish to start off this season. His numbers (three touchdowns and six interceptions in five games) indicate that playing a little zone and not blitzing every play will be the way to attack him. I still would blitz but mixing it up will be the way to go. The loss of LeGarrette Blount to injury will hurt this offense as he gives this team those tough yards but expect the Bucs to air it out to try to keep up with the Saints. I expect the Saints defense to keep the good play going getting some key stops and allowing it’s offense to win a key divisional battle.