This past Sunday the New Orleans Saints beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-21 behind the Saints’ backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It’s no surprise that Bridgewater has led his team to 4-1 after quarterback Drew Brees’s injury. Many people thought the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ dominant defensive line was going to be able to shake Bridgewater up. Heading into the Week 5 matchup, the Buccaneers had gained some media attention following their victory against the Los Angeles Rams. That attention quickly faded after being held to a sackless performance against the Saints.
MISSING PERSON ALERT
Linebacker Shaquil Barrett has been the superstar for the defense, earning him the nickname “Sack Barrett.” However, we soon found out that the Saints’ offensive line has a zero-tolerance policy for superstars. The Saints pitched a perfect game, and many are now questioning the authenticity of this defense.
Learning To Balance
It’s not a shocker that wide receiver Michael Thomas carved the Buccaneers’ secondary up, following a 100 Million dollar payday. Thomas finished the game with 182 yards and two touchdowns. But it wasn’t just those points he put up on the board that weakened the Bucs; it was his route-running and getting open that actually hurt the Bucs’ defensive line.
If you’ve been around former coaches you’ve heard something like this: It’s impossible to have a good secondary without a good pass rush, and it’s impossible to have a good pass rush without a good secondary. Saints’ receivers got open so quickly and the Buccaneers constantly found themselves only having 3 to 4 seconds to rush the passer. This made the Saints’ job a lot easier.
All credit goes to the Saints, however, because in the NFL it’s very difficult to protect your quarterback. There are bound to be some plays in which it’s not always possible. Both groups will look to redeem themselves next week as they learn to balance.
Buccaneers fans are a very critical group; for most fans, the current team will always be compared to the former Super Bowl-winning team. There will always be fans that reminisce on that team’s better days and that is to be expected, but I strongly believe that the Buccaneers’ defense will impress a lot of people by the end of their first season with Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. Will they have games in which they make a lot of critical errors? Absolutely. But to all of the Buccaneers fans out there, I offer a piece of advice: Don’t panic. A young team is going to make errors, and the first year will always be a period of learning the ins and outs.
Next week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will fly to London to square off with the Carolina Panthers in an important division matchup. Look for the Buccaneers defense to be motivated, fired up, and playing with a chip on its shoulder.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com