The Buccaneers have stressed establishing the run on offense, but Sunday’s game could provide a great opportunity to get things going in the passing game against a depleted secondary in New Orleans.
The Saints began the season without safety Jairus Byrd (knee) and cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip), before things got even worse in their season opener. While allowing Carson Palmer to throw for 307 yards and three touchdowns, New Orleans suffered yet another loss in the backend, this time Rafael Bush, who is out for the year with a chest injury.
“They are definitely banged up,” said Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter on Wednesday. “They have three or four good football players that won’t be playing for New Orleans this week. Arizona was able to do a good job against them in the passing game last week.”
Last week the Saints started cornerbacks Damian Swann, a rookie fifth round pick from Georgia, and Delvin Breaux, a former CFL player, and the Cardinals were able to take advantage. Eight different receivers caught passes for Arizona, two of them for over 80 yards.
The Bucs would certainly like to mimic the Cardinal’s success, but, given what happened last Sunday, Koetter’s primary concern is building an offensive identity. Tampa Bay needs to find their own strengths before they can take advantage of an opposing team’s weakness.
“After the way we played last week we have to steady the ship, first and foremost,” Koetter said. “We have to steady the ship and not contribute to beating ourselves. After you get that, your attack-mode also takes over and then you’re right back to playing to your strengths and hiding your weaknesses.”
Following Koetter’s press conference, Jameis Winston took the podium and echoed a similar viewpoint. Coming off a shaky debut, the rookie quarterback is focused on improving himself above anything else.
“My main goal is to go out there and just play Buccaneer football, do what I have to do to put us in a good situation,” Winston said. “We know that they’re going to have a great plan anyway. I really have to focus on my technique, doing the right thing and protecting the football.”
Given the Saints struggles last week, part of “doing the right thing” likely involves pushing the ball downfield through the air. It’s understandable that Koetter and Winston want to get their own issues sorted out, but if they can find any rhythm offensively, there should be a real opportunity this Sunday to attack New Orleans’ young secondary.
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.
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