A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' Week 9 matchup with the Saints.
1) Bucs are getting to the ball**
The Bucs forced two fumbles in Sunday's game. Linebacker Lavonte David stripped Saints' running back Alvin Kamara of the ball in the second quarter and Bucs' safety T.J. Ward recovered. The turnover led to the Bucs' first score of the game on a 50-yard field goal. Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. also forced a fumble, stripping quarterback Drew Brees on a sack, but New Orleans would recover. The Bucs also recovered a muffed punt return in the fourth quarter that would lead to their lone touchdown of the game.
2) RB Peyton Barber stepped in
Running back Peyton Barber saw more action on Sunday in New Orleans. He seemed to be following in the footsteps of fellow running back Doug Martin in 'making something out of nothing' as his coaches has classified Martin. Most of Barber's yards came after contact as he bounced off defenders for a couple of solid runs. New Orleans got called on a five-yard defensive holding penalty in the second quarter on a five-yard run by Barber. He got the Bucs another first down two rushes later to aid a drive that resulted in a 50-yard field goal by kicker Pat Murray.
3) Turnover ratio even; points off turnovers, not**
The Bucs ended up with an even turnover ratio. Tampa Bay was able to recover the forced fumble by Lavonte David and a muffed punt return. All 10 of the Buccaneers' points would come from those turnovers. However, after limiting the Saints' offense to just a field goal on their opening drive, Bryan Anger's punt was blocked in the first quarter on the ensuing Bucs' possession and allowed the Saints to score their first touchdown of the day. Tight end O.J. Howard was stripped of the ball in the third quarter and it took Drew Brees just one play to translate it into a touchdown for New Orleans. All in all, New Orleans would translate two turnovers into 14 points, besting the Bucs' 10.
4) Lack of run game forcing Bucs into passing pigeonhole
The Bucs recorded 87 yards rushing against the Saints stingy defense, with 30 of those yards coming from quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick using his legs in the second half. Without a complete offense, the Bucs are forced into more passing situations and opposing defenses know it. In a game where the Bucs' quarterback was sacked four times, establishing the ground game and doing so early in the game will alleviate pressure on the quarterback to hold the ball waiting for a passing play to develop.
5) Third-down efficiency still not improving
The Bucs converted just four of 13 third downs and made one appearance in the red zone all game. Tampa Bay has struggled on their third-down efficiency rate for most of the season. The coaching staff has pinpointed too many third-and-longs as a root cause. In order for the Bucs to be successful, they will need to pair a complete offense with some explosive plays that could help avoid third-down situations altogether.