Friday Football Feast: Bucs vs. Saints

Drew Brees isn't what he once was and Tampa must realize that to beat the Saints

TAMPA —  What happened last Sunday happened last Sunday and doesn’t need to be over analyzed.

Tampa lost by 45 points because they thought they could make plays they couldn’t and the 49ers let them know it. What can be taken away from the loss is a sense of reality; that this team has accomplished nothing other than finishing in third place last season with 10 wins.

That’s it.

And This Youngry team found that out last Sunday and can know move forward. It had to happen, at least it happened when the season was still young. That being said, we will see just what kind of Bucs team we’re dealing with based on their performance on Sunday against the Saints.

It’ll be the second time the Bucs are facing a NFC South opponent and the second time it’s a home game in said scenario. Last time the Bucs handled the Atlanta Falcons pretty well with Josh Freeman beating them with his mind not his arm.

Sunday will be the day Josh Freeman beats a team with his arm if the Bucs indeed win. The Saints defense has been getting shredded all year, to the point where even the Panthers made it a nail bitter last week.

The Bucs weakness is their over confidence and the Saints weakness is (finally) their defense. Both weaknesses will play off each other and might actually produce a low scoring game. The bucs are over confident in their offense which may produce failed drives which in turn makes the Saints defense look better than it is.

And if there is one thing the Bucs get an A in it’s making teams look better than they are.

But what happens if everything clicks for the Bucs and they blow out the Saints? How differently will everyone feel about the Bucs and how interesting will this NFC South race get down the stretch?

 

Everybody has been having a good time with the Saints defense, and Tampa should too.

Offesense

It is no secret that last week was probably the worst performance of Josh Freeman’s career. But who would have thought that a game against the Saints would be a potential bounce back week? It’s about time that happened, eh? Freeman will be going up against a defense that has been shredded by the Packers, Texans, and Panthers. In those games, each opposing quarterback went for at least 200 yards with Rodgers and Schaub going almost 400. Cam Newton went for 224 last week, but if Freeman gets that many yards, you know he’s using them productively.

The Saints have allowed receivers to get loose on them with each of the Saints first 5 games seeing at least one receiver get at least 75 yards and at least 2 scores. The Saints haven’t allowed more than one touchdown per game to a wide out, so Mike Williams may not get the explosive game he wants in terms of touchdowns, but the Saints have allowed the yardage to get out of control.

Twice this season the Saints have let a receiver top 100 yards, and one of those receivers wasn’t even a wide out, he was matt Forte the Chicago bears running back. But it’s the game against the Texans that Tampa will want to duplicate. In that game three Texans caught more than 75 yards and Houston rushed for over 80 yards. Andre Johnson and John Casey (the Texans FULLBACK) went 128 yards and 126 yards respectively and Brandon Tate rushed for 82 yards.

Tampa will be without LeGarrette Blount this Sunday, but Earnest Graham has played the Saints before and knows this defense. He may be able to expose some holes and move the ball. This will open up the passing game for Freeman and could produce big days out of Mike Williams, Preston Parker and Arrelious Benn.

Williams has even gone on record as saying you should expect the Mike Williams of old in this game.

If Tampa can expose the Saints the way the Texans did, their defense will be able to hold the Saints. Tampa’s defense isn’t Houston’s or Carolina’s or even Chicago’s, all of whom blew leads to New Orleans. Tampa is hurting from their 3 point outing last week and what a better team than the Saints to take it out on.

Defense

No one is really sure what happened to Tampa’s defense last week. They had four solid defensive games prior and just let the levees break on them. This week they face the proper offense to put up 48 points on you in the Drew Brees led Saints. The offense isn’t what it used to be with all the explosive angles to it, but as we saw last week it can still win games. The Panthers blew a late lead when Drew Brees became Drew Brees and got the job done.

This is something Tampa will want to avoid Sunday. They can’t let Drew Brees break out and burn them.

There is a pretty good chance they can get this done if they can repair their shattered confidence from last week. One could easily argue that the Atlanta Falcons have the far superior offense both in terms of talent and quality than that of the Saints. There is Drew Brees but after him there is Marques Colston, and maybe Jimmy Graham.

Pierre Thomas isn’t that great, Mark Ingram isn’t that great and neither is any of the other weapons that were once made amazing by Drew Brees.

If Tampa can contain, and that term is used lightly, Roddy White and Julio Jones while managing to stop Micheal Turner dead in his tracks all the while putting constant pressure on Matt Ryan, then what’s the big deal about the Saints?

History. That’s the difference. The Saints have always rolled over the Bucs in Tampa and that starts to get in your head. The Falcons games have all been close and Tampa felt they should have won them all. When the Saints roll into town, it’s as if Tropical Storm Brees whipped itself up and forced all the confidence to be boarded up.

There won’t be any Gerald McCoy but there will be the return of Tanard Jackson, whom wasn’t on the team last season for the Saints game in Tampa.

Jackson won’t carry the defense but he could cancel out the absence of McCoy in both play and swagger. He’s one of the NFL’s top flight safeties and having him back makes an already stout Bucs secondary even better.

Drew Brees does lead on offense ranked second in the NFL in passing, but Julio Jones and Roddy White both topped 110 yards and still couldn’t win. The trick is keeping the targets out of the endzone. Brees could throw for 500 yards, but if none of his passes are touchdowns, that drastically alters the mood of his stats.

The Saints are a very beatable team and are nowhere near as talented as the Falcons. If the Bucs could handle the Falcons at home, they should theoretically be able to handle the Saints.

If nothing gets in their heads.

Bottom Line

The 45 point loss last week needed to happen. It needed to happen because this team needed more maturing. Moving forward, they now know what it feels like to get pummeled and beaten to  pulp. No one is goignt o feel sorry for this team; they’re not going to have excuses made for them.

They know this and they will grow because of this. Beating the Saints will not only put this team back on the right divisional track, but back mental one too. Raheem Morris is a master motivator and will find ways to get this team ready to rumble Sunday. The question is will they have the right mid set to do it.

Facing the Saints is a mental anguish because of the beatings recevied from the them. It’s Pavlovian. They need to stop cowering when they hear the bell and go and get the meat. Get after Drew Brees, he has no right to be comrotable in the pocket. Take his weapons out fo the game and see how well he operates when forced to make plays that aren’t there.

It worked against Matt Ryan, and it can work against Drew Brees.

Heck, it worked against Donovan McNabb and Curtis Painter too. Clearly this is a strategy that works.

Just look at the results when you don’t get after the quarterback: Matthew Stafford and Alex Smith eat you alive.

Drew Brees is no longer special. He no longer can beat you just by making plays; we have seen this season that when Drew Brees makes plays it is because they were left there for him to make by the defense.

Chicago let him win, Houston let him win, Carolina let him win and Jacksonville let him win.

Tampa needs to get in his face and then the confidence will grow and the win will come. Freeman is the master of cool and confidence and those two career wins he has against the Saints came on the road. He now just needs to transfer that to home wins and this team is right back on track.

Prediction: Bucs 27, Saints 24

Want more from The Pewter Plank?  
Subscribe to FanSided Daily for your morning fix. Enter your email and stay in the know.