The Bucs scored an upset win at Pittsburgh last week, 27-24, and will be trying to get out of the NFC South cellar with another daring road win as the underdog in New Orleans. What are the six things PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s upcoming game? Find out right here in SR’s Pick 6.
Who: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA
When: 1:00 p.m. ET – Fox
Last year: Saints swept Bucs
Overall series: Saints lead series 27-16
1. RED BARRON TO THE RESCUE?
The Bucs struggled to cover Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller last week, allowing him to catch 10 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. That’s something New Orleans undoubtedly saw on film and will look to use Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham the same way this Sunday. Miller was a problem for the Bucs defense, especially in the second half, and middle linebacker Dane Fletcher was victimized by play action, running to the line of scrimmage instead of dropping back in coverage. The Bucs desperately need better play from the middle linebacker position, and hope that Mason Foster is well enough to return from a dislocated shoulder this week. Foster recorded three pass breakups and returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown last year against the Saints in Week 2.
Even if Foster returns to the starting lineup, the Bucs need to put strong safety Mark Barron on Graham, who already has 32 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns this season. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Barron has enough size to match up against the 6-foot-6 Graham, and has enough speed to track him across the field. For the Bucs to contain Graham, Barron needs to have a big day.
2. TAMPA BAY’S DEFENSIVE LINE NEEDS A REPEAT PERFORMANCE
The Buccaneers defensive line got off to a hot start at Pittsburgh last Saturday, sacking Ben Roethlisberger five times in the first half, including twice on the Steelers’ first possession. That initial Pittsburgh drive ended with a fumble forced by defensive end Michael Johnson and recovered by Jacquies Smith. The Bucs defensive line needs to get that same type of effort and production early in New Orleans.
The interior, which is led by center Jonathan Goodwin and guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, is the strength of New Orleans’ offensive line. Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who had a sack in last week’s victory over Pittsburgh, needs to fight through double teams and get to Drew Brees. If that proves to be problematic, Johnson must win his battle with Terron Armstead and bring Brees down. The more pressure the Bucs get on Brees the better their chances of pulling a second-straight road upset.
3. BUCS SECONDARY MUST (FINALLY) MAKE PLAYS AGAINST SAINTS
Tampa Bay’s secondary, which features first-round pick Mark Barron at strong safety, second-round pick Jonathan Banks at cornerback, and a pair of high-priced Pro Bowl free agents in safety Dashon Goldson and cornerback Alterraun Verner, is loaded with talent. However, this foursome has just one pass breakup and no interceptions between them in the first four games of the season. Goldson is out for Sunday with an ankle injury, so Major Wright, Keith Tandy and Bradley McDougald will need to fill in and make plays.
As mediocre as the safety play has been, the cornerback position has been down right bad as Verner and Banks have really struggled in coverage. Antonio Brown beat both for seven catches for 131 yards and two touchdowns last week in Pittsburgh. Tampa Bay’s cornerbacks can’t give Saints receivers like Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, Nick Toon and rookie Brandin Cooks too much cushion or they will get killed all day underneath. At the same time, Stills and Cooks have plenty of speed, so they have to really jam and re-route the receivers off the line of scrimmage in Cover 2 or they will be putting the Bucs safeties in a precarious situation.
4. GLENNON NEEDS TO GO TOE-TO-TOE WITH BREES
The Bucs and the Saints are getting terrible play from their secondaries, as both teams are ranked 28th against the pass through four games. That could mean that Sunday’s clash could be a shootout in the Superdome. Mike Glennon proved that he could go toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh’s Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last week in the Bucs’ 27-24 win, throwing for 302 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner with seven seconds left. He’ll need to do the same this week in his head-to-head matchup with Pro Bowler Drew Brees.
Glennon will need to adequately read the coverages in the Saints’ 3-4 defense and make throws down the field to 6-foot-5 wide receiver Vincent Jackson over the top and 6-foot-2 speedster Louis Murphy underneath. Matching Brees’ statistics is tough for any quarterback, as the Saints star has already thrown for 1,203 yards and seven touchdowns, but Brees has also been picked off three times in four games. If Glennon can complete 65 percent of his passes and stay interception-free, he has the chance to throw for 300 yards or more and give the Bucs a chance to win in New Orleans.
5. BUCS NEED TO RUN THE BALL TO WIN AGAINST SAINTS
Tampa Bay’s offensive line did a masterful job in pass protection last week in Pittsburgh, allowing just one sack and giving Mike Glennon time to find open receivers. The Bucs will need to do that again on Sunday to keep pass rushers Cameron Jordan and Junior Gallette at bay and off of Glennon. Both were double-digit sackers last year for New Orleans.
The best way to do that is to have a balanced offense and run the ball. Tampa Bay’s running backs averaged a weak 2.3 yards per carry (18 carries for 42 yards) against Pittsburgh, and Doug Martin’s return to the starting lineup saw him average less than three yards per carry as he rushed for only 40 yards and a touchdown. Martin has to do a better job of accelerating through the holes and keeping his head up. The Bucs need to give leading rusher Bobby Rainey, who is averaging over five yards per carry, more opportunities.
6. TAMPA BAY NEEDS TOUCHDOWNS – NOT FIELD GOALS – IN BIG EASY
Bucs head coach Lovie Smith is not much of a gambler, but he might need to be in New Orleans. Tampa Bay won’t win kicking field goals and must match touchdowns with the Saints when playing against Drew Brees at his house. Smith might need to go for it on fourth down a couple of times in the Saints’ territory in order to keep drives – and chances for touchdowns – alive.
From a play-calling standpoint, Marcus Arroyo must continue to be as creative as he showed last week while calling for a 19-yard end around by Solomon Patton and a halfback pass by Bobby Rainey into the end zone. Defensively, Leslie Frazier may have to dial up some linebacker or nickel corner blitzes against Brees to put pressure on him and make him throw under duress. No defense can afford to sit back and let Brees operate from a clean pocket and pick apart the secondary.
SR’s Prediction: Saints 31, Buccaneers 27
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd 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 enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
As a long time subscriber I had to work to get someplace to leave a comment. As an “oldtimer” I found the new navigation layout less than “intuitive”. That’s right it is counter intuitive! Please realize that I am a retired “IT” , computer professional … with 30+ years of experience. I know “whereof I speak” as I “wore many hats” and went through many “learning curves” over the years. you could say I averaged one every 18 months in order to keep up with the technology changes. … What was my problem? It took me too long to figger out how to get logged in so I could leave a comment. What happened to the ablity to log in from the home page? … As a customer a person should not have to go through a lot of trouble after any site upgrade. …. My next comments will be back on subject, i.e GO BUCs!!! :>)
what’s so difficult about logging on and posting a message? I just took me less than 15 seconds to do it.
sorry – misunderstood…thought you had problems posting a reply but it appears that you’re really not happy navigating.
Well, I agree with the score, but it could be the Bucs with the 31. I think you missed another key item in this game? Special Teams. Here’s another one, Turnover’s. We need a fumble and interception. Isn’t Barron banged up and is at best 90%; same for DL Johnson & DT McCoy? I am not even sure if LB Foster will be able to play. This game is about the back ups performing in my opinion.
Buc win! 28-21. I got a hunnert on da Bucs – a hunnert prayers. I’ve been known to imbibe a little on the weekends, so take that into consideration. Go Bucs!
I agree with the site layout taking some time to get used to. I prefer the old much more. As far as this article there’s what I believe must be a huge typo in the battle between Breeze and Glennon in the event of a shootout… advantage Glennon? Advantage buccaneers? A shootout favors the Saints in every way.
Chances are slim but never know. Saints play well in that dome and cannot lost at 1-3. We are 1-3 also buy we are used to it. Lol. Seriously if saints play like they did in Dallas and bucs play like we did in Pittsburg we have a decent chance. Bucs win 35-28.
I may be the only Buc fan who seems to think Verner has been doing alright – raking him over the coals because A. Brown is allowed to two-hand him in the back to catch long bomb TDs, seems a bit tough to me. Anyway, I agree the safety play has been abysmal but I blame that on L&L (and previously D&G) staffing the roster with strong safeties and then asking them to play coverage….it was never going to work. Key to the game is undoubtedly the ability to disrupt the Brees to Grahame play – either Barron somehow learns how to cover or the pass rush doesn’t allow Brees time…that will be the game right there. Go Bucs!
I think it is really helping having Josh as the QB Coach. Finally, Glennon began throwing good anticipation throws last week and suddenly had the confidence to win from behind. With improved blocking from the OL and Martin that moots Glennon’s lack of mobility and gives us a shot to win this game. Arroyo has also grown into the OC job too. Good article, Scott, as usual! Look for Murphy to be the key if we are to win. He is as good as I said he would be long ago.
After watching college football yesterday, I’m convinced this is upset weekend. It’s in the air. Bucs Win! Bucs Win! #fingerscrossed
Scubog’s Schtick Six Schtick #1.) “Take a Trip Down Memory Lane”: Saints fans have short memories due to excessive partying. They seem to have forgotten all about their days as Aints when they all wore bags over their heads like the Unknown Comic. Let’s take them back, way back and allow them to relive the time when the folks in Lose-iana were more interested in having a craw fish boil on Sunday than watching the Aints. Schtick #2) “Jaw Breaker”: Sean Payton never stops chewing and is constantly looking at his play chart and conversing with Drew Brees. Let’s make him swallow that gum when his team chokes at the end when our offense scores late to take the lead and our defense stops their final drive and bursts their bubble. Schtick #3: “Brees Isn’t So Cool” Don’t you just laugh when Drew Brees does his Ray Lewis impression when the team gathers around him and echoes his “woofs”? I’m sure we’ll be subjected to viewing it again. I wish they would give one of those alerts that, “the following may be disturbing to some viewers.” If Brees throws a couple picks his antics won’t look so inspiring. Schtick #4)”Grip It and Rip It”: We can not get too conservative in this game and need to let Glennon challenge their weakened secondary early and often. Once they back away from the line of scrimmage, feed Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey to eat up time and frustrate Payton and Brees. Too often our offensive play calling has played right into the hands of the defenders by trying to run against a stacked line and pass against two deep safeties. Schtick # 5)”Weather the Storm”: The players and coaches need to know that the Saints and their fans are going to be jacked up anticipating an easy victory over our Bucs. Just relax until it subsides and play a methodical game knowing you are equal to the task. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied. Schtick # 6: “The Micks Get Their Licks”: Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald are the key to victory. Brees can barely see over the bar at Pat O’Brien’s Pub but has an uncanny ability to throw balls with a high trajectory and find the target. He has overcome his “shortcoming” by his O-linemen clearing out passing lanes. McCoy and McDonald need to get in his face to disrupt his timing.
Mac, you got something more then coffee in that mug? Here’s a toast to hope your score is right!
Bucs 18 Saints 38 Bucs will not be able to stop Brees. Bucs will get only two TD’s. One from Glennon and one from the running game.
Bucs win 34-31. The secondary will get takeaways today. Let’s Go Bucs
Lol I see that. I was wondering the same thing.
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