When the Buccaneers traveled to New Orleans last season, the Saints ran for 140 yards and two touchdowns en route to a 37-31 Week 5 overtime win.
As it was proven on that day, success on the ground opens up options in the passing game. The Bucs are hoping to not allow Drew Brees to pick them apart with play-action and underneath throws, as he’s done so often in the past. For Tampa Bay to have a chance Sunday, the defense will try to make the Saints one-dimensional, which means shutting down the run early.
“When you stop the run it makes it hard to do play action,” said defensive end George Johnson. “The reason is why play action is so effective is when a team is running well, the play action is going to be on point. But if you can stop the run and make it nothing, then it’s hard to do play action. You can’t do anything because everyone is on their keys.”
If the Saints performance last week is any indication, the Bucs should have an opportunity to stop the run. New Orleans rushed for just 54 yards on 20 carries during their 31-19 Week 1 loss at Arizona. On Thursday Brees spoke to the Tampa Bay media, and while he admitted they want a more balanced attack, the most important thing for him is efficiency, whether it’s running or passing.
“Ideally, if I’m throwing the ball 48 times, I would expect to complete at least 40 of them,” Brees said. “If we are throwing it that many times I would like to be more efficient. If we are running it more, I think overall that’s a better balance and I think that’s what we’ll strive for.
“Our offense, the pass is an extension of the run game in some sense. Some of those shorter passes kind of take the place of runs at times. Every plan is different. We preach balance; certainly we strive for that – whatever is working.”
Last week the Titans ran the ball effectively against Tampa Bay – 124 yards on 32 attempts – which kept the defense on their heels and allowed Tennessee to comfortably throw off play-action and read-option. With linebackers having to account for the running back, the flat and underneath routes were left wide open for Mariota to complete 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards. Many of those passes would be considered an extension of the running game – as Brees said the Saints incorporate – which are particularly difficult to defend.
Brees is one of, if not the, best quarterbacks at using high percentage passing plays to expose a defense. The Buccaneers would like improve from Tennessee and take that option away from him this Sunday.
“It starts with stopping the run. We think we have some guys who can rush the passer, but when you don’t stop the run you get what we got on Sunday,” said Bucs defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier on Thursday. “Mariota threw the ball 16 times (on Sunday). That’s not the ingredient for success the way we’re set up. We have to do a much better job against the run.”
After Frazier referred to Brees as “one of the best to play the game,” he warned his defense about allowing running backs Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson to set him up with options in the passing game.
“I told our players this morning, the Saints are going to feel good about running the football so we better figure out a way to get this fixed,” he said. “We know they can throw it and they’re more than capable of running it. Everything will fall into place when we get that addressed.”
And players got the message. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was still noticeably disappointed about Sunday, was honest about the Bucs issues against the Titans and blunt about what needs to improve this week.
“Can’t rush the passer until you stop the run,” McCoy said. “It was bad. Being the leader of the defense, it was embarrassing. It has to be better. (We’re) playing who I believe is a first ballad Hall of Famer this week (Brees), so it has to be better.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
They over pursued and were out of their gaps so bad against Titans. Got it ran down their throat. I doubt they stop in in New Orleans but if they do Breeze will just air it out. Hope I’m wrong but doubt it. Should be little better than last week but not optimistic.
There was so much carry over from what happened in last weeks game in the last story PR posted about the Saints that I only ended up making one post about this week’s opponent, the Saints. Again, our defense under Lovie bounces back after an embarrassing loss based on the two we had last year so I think we’ll hold ’em to 24 points or less. Whether that will be enough to win the game will be up to Koetter and Winston.
Let’s not forget, we’ve been game planning against the Saints for years and tend to come up with several turnovers every time. Hoping for more of the same. On offense, Koetter has been playing against the saints for years as well so I’m really hoping to see a much improved offense. It all starts up front on both sides so I’m hoping for the best and again cautiously optimistic. Go Bucs!
I just want us to play better; that’s the first step. Go Bucs! Get Better!
Every week is a new challenge. Maybe some fresh offensive linemen espically that player from Altlanta can help the young linemen go bucs.
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I would think that the Bucs are embarrassed and pretty pissed about what transpired last week. I would think that they would be jacked for the Saints this week. I hope that they set the Hamster loose this week, winning or losing, to take some pressure off of Winston.
With the combination of the ass-kicking last week, and the heart-breaker@ NO last year- our boys have gotta be fired up for Sunday…Come on, BUCS, please take out 90% of the people in my Survivor Pool!!
Brees never wants to run the ball in spite of what he says. It seems every game against them we find a way to lose because of the defeatist attitude of the entire organization and fans. Change the mentality and things might get better.
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The way we didn’t cover anybody last week I don’t know that daring Brees to throw is such a good idea. I also think we should come out throwing, since their secondary is so banged up. Try to fool em Lovie, they know we’re also going to establish the run.
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