Buccaneers Hope Saints Come Marching In, Go Limping Out
By Christopher Scali
Tomorrow afternoon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play their home opener against the favored New Orleans Saints. After last week's meltdown against the New York Jets, one has to wonder whether or not the Buccaneers are in panic mode just yet. No team wants to start the season off 0-2 and Tampa must be on its "A game" to come out with a victory against the Saints. New Orleans is not a team that you can just breeze right by - no pun intended. Saints QB Drew Brees is definitely looking for a 2-0 start in the NFC South, especially after the rocky start his team got off to last year. After last week's debacle, the Bucs will be doing their best to revamp their game and make a better showing. To give the team its best chance to win, Tampa Bay has to avoid costly penalties, turnovers and sloppy play on both offense and defense.
Last Sunday's loss was not a good example of Buccaneers football - it reminded me of a high school football team playing in the dark. Tampa Bay has to get its act together immediately. The Saints are a powerhouse in the division and the Buccaneers really have to focus on getting to Brees. The defense has to hit Brees hard and give him pressure to get rid of the football before he is ready to. If the Bucs give Brees time, he is going to tear through the defense like a hot knife through butter. Last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons, Brees threw for 357 yards with two touchdowns and one interception - Tampa Bay simply can’t let Brees throw the football like that.
Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy definitely has Brees' number and should help create some havoc.
“Everybody has a weak point, and the weak point, for him, it is his height - he's a short guy," McCoy said to the media on Wednesday. "If you get in his face, you can slow him down a little bit.”
The Tampa Bay defense can easily get through the Saints offensive line because New Orleans is very good keeping the middle pocket wide open so that Brees can have room to throw the football. I believe this can give the Bucs a chance to get in his face and give the secondary better turnover opportunities.
The New Orleans Saints lead Tampa Bay 25-17 in the all-time series between the two franchises. The last time the Buccaneers beat the Saints was Oct. 16, 2011, at Raymond James Stadium and Tampa pulled it out 26-20. In that game, Bucs QB Josh Freeman threw for 303 yards and had two touchdowns. What hurt the Saints chances in that game was that Brees was picked off three times. If the defense can have a solid performance such as this one, they have a shot at another win in the series. New Buccaneers CB Darrelle Revis must keep an eye on Saints WR Marques Colston and TE Jimmy Graham. Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano must think of a strong defensive strategy to keep the ball away from New Orleans and limit them to short yardage passes.
Freeman has to get his head in this game as he is now on the hot seat and has so much to prove to the fans and his team. If Freeman loses this game at home, I would like to see rookie QB Mike Glennon get some snaps moving forward. This week, Freeman is under the spotlight and he must show that he can extend plays and not get freaked out under pressure. The Tampa Bay offense must work together and be on the same page. I am really hoping for no interceptions in this game as they would simply destroy any chance of the Bucs pulling out a win while firing up the Saints defense.
Tomorrow, the Buccaneers will not let the Saints come marching in. Tampa fans everywhere hope the Bucs have a more polished game down in the Bay. I am predicting a close Buccaneers victory as they pull it out in the end by a score of 20-17. Fire The Cannons!