The second installment of the Davy Jones’ Locker series for 2019 is now here. This series simply asks five questions to an opposing NFC South SB Nation outlet for each contest between Tampa Bay and their division opponent.
In Week 5, the Buccaneers fly to New Orleans to take on the Saints Sunday. Both teams are coming off Week 4 victories, so Chris Dunnells from Canal Street Chronicles kindly joins us to answer five questions to help preview this game between the Bucs and Saints.
1. Bridgewater is no Brees, obviously. But how has the offense really responded to him despite a drop in the passing game?
As far as the locker room is concerned, every report is that the team has really galvanized around Teddy Bridgewater knowing what he’s done to work his way back from a devastating knee injury. Against talented secondaries in Seattle and Dallas, the offense made it a point to play to Teddy’s strength with passes generally landing near the line of scrimmage. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the game plan changes against the Bucs.
2. Do you see Sean Payton trying to run right at the Bucs No. 1 ranked run defense?
He has to still try, right? A smart offensive mind like Payton knows the only way to help Teddy and the passing game is to make the opposing defense at least respect the possibility of the run. So even if the rushes aren’t successful in terms of yards-per-carry, the rushing attack could still be deemed “successful” insofar as it helps open things up in the passing game. And to my previous point, Teddy excels in the short and intermediate passing game. While not technically rushing plays, shovel passes, short dump offs, high-percentage passes, quick slants, and screens are essentially extensions of the New Orleans rushing game right now.
3. The Saints defense has had their ups and downs this season but did a good job against the Cowboys. Which version of the New Orleans defense do you think the Buccaneers offense will face off against?
It’s hard to say. I believe the Buccaneers have one of the best trio of pass catchers in the NFL in Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and OJ Howard. With Michael Gallup of the Dallas Cowboys out in Week 4, it was basically Amari Cooper and no one else. The Saints run defense has continued to improve as they’ve gotten players back from suspension (David Onyemata) and injury (Sheldon Rankins), plus continued growth from 2018 1st round pick Marcus Davenport. Unlike the Cowboys, the Buccaneers don’t really seem to pose a significant threat in the running game, so look for the Saints to hone in on trying to stop Jameis Winston and the passing attack. That means exotic blitzes, combination man and zone schemes, and attempts to make Winston hold on to the ball too long or make the wrong read and throw a costly interception.
4. What is the feeling around Drew Brees’ injury? How is he progressing? Is there hope he comes back sooner than expected?
Each week the Saints win while Brees is out removes some of the urgency in rushing him back. After winning the first two games without Brees agains the Seahawks and Cowboys, which would have been difficult to win even with Brees, Brees is afforded at least a little more time. I’ve gone and record now and said I believe Brees’s eventual return is absolutely correlated to the Saints record in the next three games. If the Saints win at least two of the next three games, I think they hold Drew out until after the Bye week to face the Atlanta Falcons on November 10th. If instead the Saints lose two of the next three, it’s possible, if not likely, Drew tries to come back right before the Bye against the Arizona Cardinals on October 27th.
5. The Saints will win if ____. The Bucs will win if ____. Prediction?
The Saints will win if Winston is held to under 250 passing yards. Knowing the Bucs are not a team known for running the ball right now, this likely goes a long way for predicting the success of the Buccaneers’ offense in Week 5. The Bucs will win if they don’t have any turnovers. With Bridgewater in for Brees, the Saints can’t afford to make any costly mistakes like turnovers, but have needed a few lucky bounces here and there to get the win the past two weeks. If the Bucs can be smart with the football, it will likely spell doom for the Saints. And what’s my prediction? Well, I’ve predicted the Saints to lose the past two weeks and they’ve won, so let me go ahead and say I predict the Saints to lose 28-3 against Tampa Bay this week to not ruin my mojo. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll say 24-21, Saints.