NEW ORLEANS — The Saints may have clinched a playoff spot, but they did’t steal it away from the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay can still make the playoffs but they need a little help. The biggest help will come from themselves as Tampa Bay needs to win in order for any playoff scenario to come to fruition. The focus of the Buccaneer’s chances to win will be placed on stopping Drew Brees.
“He’s dynamic,” said Morris of Brees. “He’s smart, he’s sharp. He gets himself out of bad plays a lot of times. He knows what you’re doing. He knows what he wants to do and he goes out and executes it. He’s accurate. You’re more and more impressed every time you go out there and evaluate and watch him. You try to get into his head as a defensive coordinator.”
Morris admits that his first victory against the Saints at the end of last year put him on a high horse, but he fell hard after their third meeting at the beginning of this year. It was a big-time win for us. We felt like we had them. We felt like the Saints would never beat us again. I was wrong.”
“It’s frustrating when you walk up there and he knows what you’re going to do before you even do it.” said Bucs linebacker Adam Hayward. Brees has been more mortal this year as opposed to last but he’s still a potent threat against whoever he plays.
The story for Bucs fans will be how well josh Freeman performs against the Saints this time around. The true test comes in the form of the Bucs 21st ranked smashing up against the Saint’s 2nd ranked secondary. The first go-around this year, Freeman did alright throwing for over 200 yards and a touchdown. The important stat is he didn’t have an interception. After the game he had last week it’d be hard not to think Freeman is hungry for another hot performance. All good things come to end however, lets just hope Freeman’s good thing ends at a convenient time, say the end of his career.
The unsung subplot to Sunday’s game is without a doubt LaGarrette Blount. Blount has the chance to do something really special; he is 59 yards away from rushing for 1,000 yards this season. He’d be the first Buccaneer to crack the 1,000 yard barrier since his counterpart Cadillac Williams did it in (ironically) his phenomenal 2005 rookie season. Blount would also join another list of undrafted rookies that reach the 1,000 yard mark. Since 1970 only 4 other players have rushed for over 700 yards in their undrafted rookie seasons. Blount is currently 2nd on that list and should he reach 1,000 he would join Dominic Rhodes as the only two players who went undrafted yet rushed for at least 1,000 yards in their rookies campaigns. Rhodes tops the list with his 1,104 yards for the Colts back in 2001.
Blount is anything but over excited about this mark. “I guess it means a lot,” said Blount. ”Running the football is just what I do. If I get 1,000 yards, I’m happy. If we win, I’ll be even more happy. It’s awesome that I have the opportunity to do it, though. I’m just happy that I was blessed with the opportunity to get snaps as a rookie.”
Considering Blount wasn’t even supposed to be a main back option for the Bucs at the beginning of the season, Blount has come a long way and if he doesn’t get mentioned in the Offensive Rookie of the Year talks, then there is no justice in the world. But even if Tampa Bay doesn’t reach the playoffs this season there has been plenty to be proud of and there is no reason for Bucs fans to hang their heads. Prop them up high because the Bucs arrived in a big way this season and aren’t going anywhere for a long, long time.