What to Look for:Keys to the Bucs/Saints Match-up
- Drew Brees vs. the Bucs Safeties- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ safeties and secondary overall had a tremendous day last week with CodyGrimm atoning for his embarrassing performance against the Pittsburgh Steelerswith a pick-six versus Cincinnati and Sabby Piscatelli atoning for, well, his entire career with an interception to position the Bucs for the victory last week. That was JV compared to what Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints will throw at them tomorrow. I specifically point out the safeties, one, because they are the weaker part of the secondary and two, because the Saints offense is predicated on attacking the center of the field with Marques Colston. The Bucs have got to find away to prevent big plays in that area to have a chance in this game. One way to do that is to . . .
- Get to Brees- As is the case with any precision passing game, if you can disrupt the passer, disrupt the flow, you have a real chance for success. The Bucs have got to get pressure on Brees, collapse his pocket, make him rush throws. Obviously, this will not be easy as Brees has one of the quickest releases in the game. However, the Saints have not been as strong on offense this season, averaging 19.8 points a game, which is down about 12 points from their 2009 average. Brees also suffered a knee injury in their lost to the Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs defense has been solid except for one blip. There is reason for hope. And along with getting to Brees, the Bucs also need to . . .
- Stop the Saints running attack- This, the Bucs can actually do. The Saints are without Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Ladell Betts and Chris Ivory have struggled. The wildcard could be newly acquired running back Julius Jones. However, if the Bucs stop the run effectively it would give them more of an opportunity to put pressure on Brees. If Saints become one dimensional, the Buccaneers have a shot.
- Josh Freeman must continue to make plays with his legs (and arm)- While Brees has hampered by a knee injury, Freeman is healthy (remember the broken thumb) and is making plays by rolling out and running. This is keeping defenses honest and opening up opportunities for the Bucs’ wide receivers. Freeman is such a young player and his ability was recognized for the first time by the NFL (see NFC offensive player of the week), can he be consistent and continue to move forward?
- How confident are the Bucs?- While they won in dramatic fashion over the Bengals, the national media immediately crapped on them as they did the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers. However, winning begets more winning and the Bucs are back home. If they believe they should win this game, it will help them tremendously in their pursuit of the victory.