The big news on Sunday wasn’t that New Orleans lost to the Rams in Los Angeles, 27-9. It’s that the Saints lost future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for at least six weeks with a thumb injury that will require surgery.

That means the Bucs will be facing backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater when Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans in Week 5 – with a mix of third-string running QB Taysom Hill thrown in to try to keep the Bucs defense off balance. Bridgewater was 17-of-35 (56.7 percent) for 165 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in Sunday’s loss at Los Angeles.

In an NFC South division that has 1-1 Tampa Bay atop the division thanks to Thursday night’s win at Carolina – with New Orleans and Atlanta also 1-1 – the loss of Brees could remove the Saints from front-runner status for the time being. New Orleans travels to Seattle next week and then hosts 2-0 Dallas followed by Tampa Bay.

It’s not inconceivable that the Saints lose their next two games without Brees and could be 1-3 by the time the Bucs come to town. Tampa Bay has won two of the last four games in New Orleans, including a 48-40 upset last year in Week 1.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Saints QB Drew Brees
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and Saints QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Getty Images

Some suggest that six weeks is a very optimistic timetable regarding Brees’ return to action. It could in fact be a few weeks longer because it is his right thumb on his throwing hand. After a bye week in Week 9, New Orleans has four straight NFC South contests beginning at home against Atlanta, followed by a game at Tampa Bay in Week 11, a home game the following week against Carolina and then a road game at Atlanta in Week 13. The Saints will want – and perhaps need – Brees back in action for that divisional run.

Meanwhile, the Bucs host the 0-2 New York Giants on Sunday, and if Tampa Bay can win and improve to 2-1, even a loss the next week at Los Angeles against the Rams keeps them at .500 heading into New Orleans the following Sunday. Should the Bucs prevail against the Saints without Brees, Tampa Bay would then be 3-2 in this scenario heading to London to take on Carolina, which desperately needs a win this Sunday at Arizona to avoid a 0-3 start.

But first, the Bucs must take of business against a reeling Giants team that lost in the season opener at Dallas,35-17, and lost at home to Buffalo, 28-14, on Sunday.

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Scott Reynolds is in his 24th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his son's Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]

30 COMMENTS

  1. I wouldn’t say bright. I would argue the Bucs can compete if they grind out each week. The NFL is too difficult of a game to project anything. Take for example the 2-0 Seahawks where they have won two close games. While fans would want a team to dominate in the end that isn’t realistic. What is realistic is if those two early wins in the year puts Seattle in position to win their division. At that point people are not going to remember that the Seahawks won two close games against the Bengals and Steelers.

    That is why winning early and often matters in the NFL because injuries can change things a lot. The NFL is about being opportunistic and winning the the games you should win and then winning some games that are tosses up along the way.

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    • The news about Brees is awful.

      AWFUL GOOD!

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  2. Must win! My fear is Eli will play horribly in the 1st half and is replaced with the rookie QB and you know where I’m going with this? Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +9. From 21 votes.
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    • Bowels won’t let a rookie QB make a mockery of our defense. That was a Mike Smith trade mark.

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      • Every QB had their career best game against Mike Smith’s defense.

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  3. Brees won’t be the same even if he returns this year. It WILL impact his throws. He won’t be 100% until next season.

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    Rating: +27. From 27 votes.
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  4. This team isn’t ready to look that far ahead into the season. They still do not have the focus to be considered a threat yet. They need to quit possession killing penalties, have sure hands catching and hanging onto the ball, and continue making solid tackles. Let’s go game by game for now. Talk to me in week 6 or 8…..then let us see where they are. It would be great to see them 5-3 or better at that point.

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  5. Let’s face it, N.O. is the best team in our division. With a H.O.F. QB missing some time, they just came back to the rest of the pack. No ones going to hand us the division, Atl has a pro bowl QB, and some great weapons. The Saints still have a lot of talent, and Teddy is a very capable QB, we’ve lost to worse in the past. So to me it looks like a three horse race for the division, and winning your division even with a sub 500 record gets you to the dance. Our chances for sure just got better.

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  6. If the Bucs are smart, they aren’t thinking about anyone or anything other than the BlueMen coming into town next week.

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    Rating: +33. From 35 votes.
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  7. Funny when we beat the Panthers, the national story was the Panthers suck, some articles barely acknowledged we were even the opponent all.

    Compared to the other teams out there right now, we aren’t playing that bad at all. Sure the offense is sputtering along, looks worse than it really it is with a functional run game. The defense is way better, and you can tell there is still a big learning curve going on.

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    • We are as good as half the league, and worst than the other half. Cam’s refusal to adapt to defenses is what hurts Carolina most. The Bucs have potential and they will get better through the season, but injuries will be our killer more than any team in the NFL. Our depth or lack of especially on the offensive side is the nightmare.

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    • @whatthebuc They need to use this disrespect and play with several large chips on their shoulders.

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  8. That’s some serious optimism, Scott, thrown into our Bucs-works.

    My pre-season post said, “it won’t work out like the PR team was projecting….some team would get a big injury,” and so forth. There’s lots more room for curve balls to be thrown at both us, and every other team.

    For now, I think taking things week-by-week is definitely the best approach. There is absolutely no reason for us to be favored over the Giants (they have Barkley and Ingram – two guys as good as anybody else has in the league – and Eli is still a veteran QB with some goods) – this will be a toss-up that either team can win.

    What I want to see is our shiny new 5th overall pick show up. All we’ve got so far is excuses, illness and injury. I want him on the field and making plays….not dragging RBs down by the ankles as they go past him; not getting stiff-armed by backups; not overrunning plays and getting washed out by blocking TEs. I want to see him filling holes, defending TEs over the middle, and proving his worth as the 5th pick!

    That, and good Jameis again…

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  9. Giants at 0-2 are a very dangerous team. This is the NFL. Nothing comes easy unless you’re playing the Dolphins. This is overreaction Monday. When was the last time the Buccaneers played well as a 7 point favorite. Look that one up Scott.

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  10. Is there any other way for the Bucs to take it than week to week? The Bucs can’t worry about other teams and their injuries. We need to just do us! It’s that simple. New Orleans, Pittsburgh got their own problems. The Bucs need to come together as a team. Offense and Leftwich, and Jameis and our Defense and Boles need to do what they do and continue to adjust gameplans to the personal and their tendencies. If we take care of our house and the non forced errors (penalties) then the future can be bright indeed! Keep pushing that running game to open the passing game. More play action and Jameis could do a little pump fake once in a while to keep defense of balance. Don’t see much of this with Jameis? Pump fake to left or right and throw the other way. Bucs need to just concern themselves with their next game and execute the game plan. Go Jameis! Go Defense! Go Bucs!

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  11. Would be huge, if we can go into the bye week at 4-2.

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  12. Bucs are competitive because Todd Bowles has made them competitive. Gave up 19 points to the 49ers (just look at what they did to the Bengals this week – 42 points!) and then 14 to the Panthers. The team was lucky to give up 20 points in a game last year. First two games are below that number. Whenever your defense is playing that well you have a chance – and the Bucs with an offense that is learning a new system have managed to score 17 to 20 points a game. Keep the turnovers down on offense, they have a chance every week with this team.

    Interesting story this week on Mariotta and Winston. It actually is not bad, and it basically states this is the year where both quarterbacks will prove to be (or not) a franchise QB as neither has had a wonderful carreer so far – and the worries that came with their drafting have come true for the most part.

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nfl/nearly-5-years-later-its-a-hung-jury-for-jameis-winston-marcus-mariota/ar-AAHlnv8?ocid=chromentp

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  13. I think this may torpedo the Saints’ season but I don’t think it moves the needle on ours. I had us winning 6 games with one of the wins coming against the Saints. It looks like the first time we play them in New Orleans will be that win.

    On a side note, the win against the Panthers didn’t help anything either because we lost to the 49ers and I had those wins-losses reversed. Another game I had us winning is the Giants so we better take care of business on Sunday.

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    • Crazy to look at the schedule and say, “this is a win;” “this is a loss.” We don’t know from week to week, which teams are getting stronger and which weaker. We have no easy wins and only one or two sure losses on the schedule. I think the Saints are being optimistic thinking that Brees will return in six weeks. He’s 40+ years old and he showed last year that he has lost some velocity. How does he stay sharp when he can’t grip a football. I’ve had broken fingertips that seemed relatively minor, but affected all the mobility in my hands. But the Saints are by far the most talented team in our division. Going forward, they’re going to have serious salary cap problems, but they can probably go 3-3 without him.

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  14. I agree do not look past the Giants any given Sunday and al….

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  15. Scott, all of what you say is viable, but let’s hope the bucs realize they have been too bad a team for too long to discount or look past anyone. BA needs to keep this team focused on the sad sack team coming to Tampa Sunday. They need to beat this team by at least 2 TDs if they are who they think they can be

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    Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
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  16. Frig, no team in the NFL can look past any other team in the NFL, or they will lose. The Bucs can win against (almost) any team and they can certainly lose every game as well (as we have seen). We can only hope that they learn to play consistently well going forward, catch some breaks, and build on any momentum they can catch. the fact that NO has had some back luck just gives us a little more hope. Go Bucs!

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    Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
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  17. Two things:
    1. Does anyone else feel that we would be a very good/great team if we played all are games on the road?We just seem to have no home field advantage
    2. We are terrible against backup QBs. At least Bridgewater is not a rookie; that’s when we are at our worst.

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  18. Please don’t get your pitties all up in a bunch just yet Buc fans. We are 2 games in..that’s all. Just because the Saints lost Brees means absolutely nothing to or for us. How many times have these Bucs been beatdown by backup QB’s in their history? Quite a lot! One at a time. Bucs need to focus on one..BARKLEY this week. The guy is a GD Beast! Hold him under 100 and we win. Bridgewater is no slouch. He could very well step in and win for the Saints. So I’m not buyin any BS about Brees injury helping us. Nope..Not one Iota.

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  19. We were supposed to beat the 49ers, just saying.

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    • 49ers are a much better team than expected. Garoffalo is still playing well and this second week they scored 41 points – in Cincinnati on another cross-country trip. Yes, they were supposed to beat them but things change. The 49ers this year if they keep playing the way they are they are going to shake things up in the NFC West.

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      • 42 points the 49ers scored, my error.

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  20. Definitely hurts the Saints! U lose ur Hall of Fame QB for several games. Same goes for Pittsburgh but worse, out for season is Big Ben! Anyways, the Bucs just haven’t been good enough or consistent enough to say that,”with Brees our Bucs should win.” Rookies and journey men QBs have picked our Bucs apart in years past… let’s not kid ourselfs! I think this is even more motivation for the Bucs to take care of their own business at hand and there is potential for good things to happen this year. The Bucs r clearly a different team this year! Better on Defense. A little sluggish on Offense but with big play potential. Saints lose 40 year old Brees( and listen at that age there’s no guarantee he even comes back!) Hell, I strained my back mowing the yard about a year ago and I’m STILL not 100%! And Cam seems to be having his issues in Carolina. I think the team to beat in NFC South is the Dirty Birds! Stout Defense and Veteran QB and Offense. If we could at least split with them I’d be happy! Would like to see just one game with 1-3 penalties. I think we can do this! Go Bucs!

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  21. Falcons have a stout defense?
    Playing without their two top receivers and if not for a dropped pass by Nelson Agahor who could have waltzed into the end zone the Eagles win that game and the Falcons are 0-2.

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  22. I keep seeing comments about backup QBs looking good against us. You all are forgetting that Mike Smith is gone and so is his soft scheme. I agree, we need to take it week by week, but the doomsday prepping isn’t necessary sans Smitty.

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