When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the New Orleans Saints this weekend, the division rival will be without star cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Returning to the Saints defense however, will be veteran Patrick Robinson who will look to team with fellow cornerback P.J. Williams, as they combine with Eli Apple to try and sweep this season series against the Bucs for the first time since 2014.
It won’t be easy however, as Tampa Bay boasts the league’s best wide receiver duo with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Given Robinson’s nine full seasons in the NFL with 2019 being his tenth, and his history going against the Buccaneers, he is the focus as we look to get to know our enemy heading into Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season.
PATRICK ROBINSON’S HISTORY
There were three players taken in the 2010 NFL Draft from Florida State University. The first, and only one selected ahead of the sixth round, was cornerback Patrick Robinson who was taken 32nd overall by the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints.
As a Seminole entering the NFL, Robinson was praised as an active pass defender. Just shy of six feet tall, Robinson was selected because of his size and speed combination and for his competitiveness as a defender and special teams contributor.
Joining a team which had helped revive a city after Hurricane Katrina decimated the city of New Orleans, Robinson was part of a new batch of players looking to continue the franchise’s new found success.
From 2010-2014, the Saints went back to the playoffs three times and finished 7-9, twice. New Orleans would experience 7-9 records in 2015 and 2016 as well, but by then, Robinson had moved on spending 2015 with the San Diego Chargers and 2016 with the Indianapolis Colts.
Before leaving the Saints though, Robinson played in eleven games as a rookie and then 14 or more each year following except for one. In total, he played 58 games in his first stint with the franchise, and racked up nine career interceptions while doing so.
In his first two years outside of New Orleans, Robinson had just one. But then came 2017. In his eighth professional season, he made his moved to his third team in as many years becoming a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
He became a part of the underdog mentality the franchise held, and ultimately came through with four interceptions during the regular season, playing in all sixteen and starting half of them. Twice that year, Robinson broke up three passes in one single game.
It all culminated with a Super Bowl championship. The first of his career, and so far his only.
Despite the solid stats and performances with the Eagles, Robinson found himself on the move again. This time heading home - kind of - and back to the New Orleans Saints who drafted him in the first place.
Of course, they themselves were becoming perennial Super Bowl favorites again, but that’s just icing on the homecoming cake I’m sure.
In his first full season back in New Orleans, Robinson appeared in just three games ending with a broken ankle which landed him on injured reserve in late September.
PATRICK ROBINSON’S 2019
Robinson’s tenth season, and second back with the Saints, has been healthier. I said healthier, not healthy. After playing in the team’s first six games of the year, Robinson hurt his hamstring in the seventh - against the Chicago Bears - and has missed two more games since.
This weekend will be his return from that injury, and his first time on the field after three weeks off. Statistically, he hadn’t been having the year he probably wanted as it was, as he had recorded just one tackle while being credited with zero passes defended through the first six games of the year.
If the Saints have any chance of keeping the Bucs receivers in check, he’ll have to come up with more production than he had before suffering his injury. Despite the numbers, he does have talent, and he’ll look to lean on what he does best to contribute as his team looks to avoid their first losing streak of the year.
Some may not value effort as heavily as others, but it’s obvious after this week’s release of Vernon Hargreaves III that the Buccaneers do. And so do the Saints. In fact, most successful franchises can be seen sporting a foundation built on smart players who put in maximum effort.
Sounds simple, but it’s not. With Lattimore’s absence, I fully expect P.J. Williams to get the majority of outside work against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But in a league where the third receiver plays a significant amount of snaps - Breshad Perriman played nearly 70% of offensive snaps in Week 10 - your third corner is incredibly important.
Having a veteran like Robinson who has made a career out of giving it his all, New Orleans has to be feeling better than most teams who just lost their number one cornerback.
o SPECIAL TEAMS
When a guy has the opportunity to impact two phases of the game, he become more important to your team. Robinson can do just that. Playing primarily on special teams, his opportunity this week to play on defense as well, won’t be wasted as he knows his chances are limited.
Lattimore won’t be out forever, so if Robinson is going to have a signature game this season, it’ll likely have to be this one. New Orleans is hoping that signature will be a good one, while the Bucs should be looking to make his big opportunity a three-hour long nightmare.
o FATHER TIME
Effort and versatility can only get you so far these days, and father time is undefeated when trying to zap professional atheletes of their ability and motivation to maintain high levels of both.
While Robinson is going to get on the field more this weekend than he did the first time these two teams met, he’s also going to be on the field more this weekend than he did the first time these two teams met.
Fatigue is going to play a factor, and if he’s forced to miss a special teams rep or two, or a defensive rep or two, then it could provide an opportunity for big things for Tampa Bay.
How do you really expose a defense lacking in top level depth at cornerback? By using your own depth at wide receiver.
The Bucs have not had consistently good production out of their wide receiver group beyond Evans and Godwin. But coming off of their third win of the year, and getting a chance to raw even with a division rival leading the NFC South, this group should be coming in more motivated than ever.
And as a coaching staff, throwing those depth corners coming in to relieve the team in place of their injured teammate as much as they can handle would be a smart way to exploit the shortage in the Saints secondary.
This game may very well be won or lost by how well one sides depth players produce, and it looks on paper like the Bucs have the upper hand. But games aren’t played on paper.
Everyone is wondering just how the New Orleans Saints defense will fare going into a match-up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers without their top defender in the secondary.
Patrick Robinson isn’t the only guy who will be pressed into service, but he may be the most impactful given his return from injury, veteran status, and the lack of depth behind him while facing the wide receiver depth across from him.