Week one was fun. Week two had Bucs fans prepared to taste sweet salvation or bitter defeat. The schedule makers decided that, in week two, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would travel to New Orleans in the dome’s home opener. Tampa Bay has not won in New Orleans, during the regular season, since the Ryan Fitzpatrick experience. This was not a must win game for either team, as it’s only a week two contest between two teams that are 1-0. No matter the outcome, neither side would be stripped of their chances to make the playoffs and have a good year. For the Buccaneers, however, this is a week two game against a division rival that represented more, it was a chance for the Buccaneers to turn the page. There is no more Sean Peyton in New Orleans and this is not the same New Orleans Saints roster that has stifled the Bucs in recent matchups. The Buccaneers entered this game with the opportunity to put an end to the narrative that they couldn’t beat the Saints.
As with any game versus the Saints and with any NFL action there are certainly some expectations of the teams about to face off and the players on the field. Sometimes the reality lines up with the expectation, while other times the reality is quite different. Here is:
Who we thought would do well and did:
Antione Winfield Jr.- This is a name Bucs fans need to be acquainted with if they aren’t yet. Antione Winfield Jr. may be most noteworthy for being known as the man who gave ‘the deuces’ to Tyreek Hill in Super Bowl 55. Before and since that individual moment in Bucs history Antione Winfield Jr. has pieced together a very impressive start to his career. He is a young player who has been on a steady incline since joining the Bucs in 2020 and back to back weeks he has been the Bucs most reliable tackler on the field with the ability to sprinkle in big impact plays.
The Buccaneers entire defense- To say that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense has been sensational these first two games would be an understatement. The Bucs defense has been outclassing its opponents this season. They have let up 13 points in two games. The only time their opponents have been seen in the end zone this year was in garbage time against the Saints. The Buccaneers defense has carried what has been a somewhat under performing offense through the first two weeks of this season. In New Orleans the Bucs defense forced five turnovers and put up a touchdown of their own. The Buccaneers defense is unlikely to continue to play at this high of a level throughout the rest of the year but if they can remain near this level of execution the season may be ending in February.
Who we thought would do well and they didn’t:
The Buccaneers keeping their poise and composure- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had issues in the past with penalties. Penalties and composure were a major point of emphasis early in the 2020 Bucs Super Bowl run. The team used to struggle to keep calm and avoid losing their composure but those issues seemed to be in the past. Today, against the Saints, those issues seemed to be the norm again. The Bucs tallied multiple personal fouls early in the game and the lack of discipline combined with the overall chipiness of the game culminated with a massive brawl in the second half. After a questionable pass interference no-call, a fight broke out between the two teams that saw the ejections of both Mike Evans and Marshon Lattimore.
Who we thought might struggle and they did:
Buccaneers offensive line- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came into this season with a somewhat remade offensive line, losing guards Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet this offseason. On top of this they have been beat up. The Buccaneers started week two down their starting center, starting left guard and starting left tackle. To make matters worse, in this game Buccaneers backup left tackle Josh Wells couldn’t finish the game. Wells left the first half with a calf injury. While an argument could be made for the Bucs offensive line to be in the category below, as they were able to do a decent in pass protection against a good Saints front, however, the struggles can’t be ignored. All in all, while the line wasn’t as much of a weakness as it could have been, it is clearly not the strength that it used to be.
Who would thought might struggle and they didn’t:
Buccaneers special teams- In recent matchups the Saints have consistently had an edge over the Buccaneers in all areas of special teams. The Buccaneers were not able to flip the advantage into their favor but they were able to mitigate the Saints advantage. Both Ryan Succop and Jake Carmada kicked well while the coverage units of the Bucs held the Saints returns in check.
Surprise of the game:
Breshad Perriman- Breshad Perriman is deep down the Buccaneers depth chart at receiver and was thrust into action due to the injuries of Julio Jones and Chris Godwin. Perriman finished the day with three catches 45 yards and a very crucial score. While Perriman’s game was not record setting, it was a flexing of the depth that the Bucs do have at the position.
Jamel Dean- Jamel Dean received a lot of praise in training camp when he earned a starting position on the Bucs defense for the first time in his career. He managed to take Sean Murphy-Bunting’s job which he had previously had a stranglehold on. The preseason hype seems to have been real. After a solid week one Jamel Dean put forth a two interception performance in week two against his former quarterback.
Josh Wells (Calf): Did not return
Week two, Buccaneers at Saints, is officially in the past now and the Bucs are tasting sweet salvation. The two teams are set to square off again December fifth, that game will be in Tampa under the lights and may write a different story, but for Bucs fans this game should feel special. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0 with a tie-breaker in the division and what feels like a major monkey off their back.
Next week, the Buccaneers will play in Tampa for the first time this season. Aaron Rodgers and his young group of receivers will help the Bucs open up Raymond James. Hopefully when Tampa takes on the Green Bay Packers, the Bucs will bring the defensive firepower they have shown in weeks one and two.