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Turning The Tide: Breaking down the two plays that determined the Bucs-Saints game

These two plays certainly didn’t go in the Bucs’ favor.

The Saints emerged as victors thanks to these two plays.
| Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Turning The Tide is a weekly segment where Evan will pick the offensive and defensive play that turned the game. Whether it was for good or for bad, we will break it all down and tell you what went wrong or what went right.

By the way, this will come out every Wednesday as long as the NFL doesn’t dilly-dally with the All-22 like it did this week.


Tom Brady’s (or Janoris Jenkins’) Pick-Six

The pick-six has become quite the staple of the Bucs’ offense.

In all seriousness, this was a brutal blow suffered by Brady and the Bucs, who were down 17-7 before Jenkins took one of Brady’s passes the other way.

Halftime just ended and the Bucs were on their first drive of the third quarter. They received the ball after halftime, so this was a perfect opportunity to make it a one-score game.

This play was pretty much doomed from the start. The Bucs committed a false start before this play, which put them in a 2nd and 15 instead of 2nd and 10. You don’t want to be in either situation, but I think we can all agree that a 2nd and 15 severely limits an offense’s options.

Naturally, the Bucs come out in 11 personnel in order to get their receivers on the field for this obvious passing situation. The Saints respond with split safety coverage, which likely means zone, but it could also mean man-to-man.

So, Brady sends Chris Godwin in motion to figure that out. The fact that Janoris Jenkins doesn’t follow Godwin is a pretty clear indicator that the defense is in zone.

The pre-snap stuff went well, but what happened post-snap wasn’t as good. Brady simply makes a bad throw. The ball comes out late and is behind Justin Watson.

“[He] was a little bit late on it and it probably [would have been] a better decision to go somewhere else with the ball,” Bruce Arians told reporters via Zoom on Monday.

It also didn’t help that Jenkins and his teammates knew what was coming. Not only can you see Jenkins just waiting to break, he even explained how he knew what was coming in his postgame presser.

As soon as Watson makes his break, Jenkins goes all out, which puts even more emphasis on the timing of the play. The ball needs to be out before Watson makes his break. Instead, Brady is on the back end of his delivery as Watson breaks.

“Well, we knew they hadn’t ran it all game,” Jenkins told reporters after the game. “And as we were watching film earlier during the week, we noticed that they like to run it. Me and Latt were on the sideline telling each other what was going to come out in the second half. And in the second half on the first drive, that’s what they did — ran double out.”

When asked if it was more a Tampa Bay thing opposed to a Patriots thing, Jenkins was quick and definitive in his answer. “That was a Tampa play. Something Tampa ran a lot last year — speed outs. We just knew that they were going to add (that) in the second half. And that’s what they did coming out on the first drive. And I just read it and broke on it.”

This was easily the turning point on offense. The Bucs had a chance to cut into the Saints’ 10-point deficit on this drive, but New Orleans instead took one to the house for a touchdown of their own to go up 24-7 in the second half.

Brady has to execute better and the Bucs need to make sure they aren’t being predictable in their playcalling. Fortunately, both of those issues can be corrected.


Jared Cook’s 46-yard Catch

Even with the pick-six and all of the other miscues, the Bucs still managed to find themselves down by one score to start the fourth quarter.

Things were looking up. The Bucs forced an incomplete pass on first down and were now set up with a 2nd and 10. The defense had just held the Saints to zero points and four net yards in the third quarter, so the unit was playing well. There’s little doubt that they would’ve been in great shape if they could force the Saints into a 3rd and long situation.

Well, that didn’t happen. It originally looked like Jamel Dean slacked off on his coverage, but Arians cleared the situation up on Tuesday and said that safety Andrew Adams actually should not have bit on the inside route from Emmanuel Sanders.

“That was not Jamel Dean’s [responsibility],” Arians told reporters earlier in the week. “Jamel Dean was rolled up – he was a cloud corner. The safety – we were in Cover 2 – bit an inside route, which can’t happen. It was not Jamel Dean at all.”

It was a tough assignment for Adams and here’s why:

Arians referred to Dean as a “cloud corner”. That likely means the Bucs were running ‘Palms’, ‘Cloud’, or ‘Clamp’ coverage, which means Dean is responsible for the No. 1 receiver unless the No. 2 receiver runs an out route. That would explain why Dean was still looking back while Cook continues to run upfield.

If the No. 2 goes out, then the No. 1 receiver becomes Adams’ responsibility if the No. 1 goes vertical. The idea there is that the No. 1 usually goes vertical if the No. 2 goes out (think Smash), so someone would have to take the No. 1 in that instance since Dean would be on the No. 2 receiver (that someone would be Adams). However, Adams is also responsible for the No. 2 receiver if they go vertical. Now, don’t worry, Adams isn’t responsible for two guys at once. If both the No. 1 and No. 2 receivers run a vertical route, then both Dean and Adams would be responsible for the two players.

The problem on this play is the No. 2 receiver does run a deep cross that breaks right in front of Adams. When you combine that route with Drew Brees’ pump fake, you can see why Adams would bite on the pump fake and the route. But the Bucs only rushed three guys and had the hook defenders in the proper spot to defend the deep cross, so the route was covered.

It looks like Brees set Adams up to make this play, too.

Before the snap Brees motions like he’s trying to raise the dead. It’s obvious that he sees something with the Bucs’ defense and is making a check. I also think this is the point where he realizes that the coverage will in fact be Cover 2, so he will be able to manipulate Adams since there are two vertical routes on his side.

Here’s Brees raising the dead making the check:

Dean certainly could have played the route better, but as Arians mentioned, he had an extra assignment. Plus, he was supposed to have help over the top, which he didn’t. Adams’ absence allows Cook to get free and it’s easy money from there.

There’s no blame to be put on Dean, whatsoever. Adams simply has to be smarter. However, in Adams’ defense, Brees has done this to just about everyone he’s played against.

This play was a major back-breaker. It got the Saints into scoring position and they were able to get into the end zone four plays later. That pushed the New Orleans’ lead back to double digits, 31-17, and basically sealed Tampa Bay’s fate from that point on.

What do YOU think was the play that turned the tide against the Bucs? Let us know via the poll/comment section below!


Which play turned the tide the most against the Bucs?

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Jenkins’ pick-six
    (101 votes)
  • 30%
    Cook’s 46-yard reception
    (54 votes)
  • 11%
    Other (comment section)
    (20 votes)
175 votes total Vote Now

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