How big of a difference has the return of Sean Payton made for the team?
Still a little early to tell. From an emotion/motivation standpoint I think it's a very big deal. The offense has sort of started with a sputter, though. We didn't really see the powerful juggernaut last Sunday against Atlanta that we're used to seeing. But I think they'll adjust and get back on track.
How has Rob Ryan's defense looked, and how does the personnel fit his scheme?
So far, so good. They looked great last week against the Falcons, holding their talented offense to just 17 points. They kept the team in the game when the offense couldn't find their rhythm, then saved the day on 4th and goal on the last play of the game. You can't ask for much more in Week 1. Ryan runs a very similar scheme to the one Gregg Williams brought with him from 2009 to 2011, and that was good enough to get the Saints a Super Bowl win. You'll see a lot of different fronts and exotic packages. Last week they were literally making up plays during the game against the Falcons. It's a much better fit for this personnel, certainly better than Steve Spagnuolo's last year. I think the players are having fun out there.
3. How should the Buccaneers defense attack the New Orleans offense? What's their weak spot?
On defense, it's always been and always will be about getting to Drew Brees, getting in his face, shaking his confidence and forcing him to make quick decisions. It all starts and ends there. He's the head of this offensive beast. To kill it, you must cut off the head. The weak spot at this point is their running game. If the Bucs can force the Saints to run the ball and get away from the pass, they should have a decent chance.
4. Is there a player the Bucs should watch out for, but who isn't very well-known?
I've got to go with the Kennys for this one. Two rookies. Two 2013 draft picks. Both named Kenny. Both contributing right out of the gate. First round draft pick Kenny Vaccaro has made an immediate impact on the Saints defense at safety. The first game of his career last week was exactly what Saints fans were hoping to see. And on offense there is wide receiver Kenny Stills, fifth round draft pick out of Oklahoma, who is quickly becoming a favorite target for Drew Brees. Stills is fast, athletic and can stretch the field. He's a playmaker. Look for him to be on the receiving end of an explosive play or two.
5. Could you give us a prediction for the game?
I've definitely got to go with the Saints. I think the offense gets back on track and the defense continues improving. 35-17 Saints.
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