Next up is our division rival the New Orleans Saints. Many prognosticators would have bet the ranch that the Saints were in line for a Super Bowl run, but they've struggled to find their way early on, starting the season 1-3. With those struggles comes opportunities for the Bucs to continue their winning ways with a few of my keys to the game:1) ATTACK BREES
There is no better player on the Bucs roster to challenge to have a big game than defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Brees loves the pocket. He will stand in there until Monday if you let him and try to vertically attack your defense. Although he can carve up any defense in the league, when you get in his face, he will serve it up. Takeaways haven't been a premium early in the Bucs season, but if McCoy can penetrate the pocket, like he normally does, and get pressure in Brees' face, those opportunities will be there for the defense.
2) THE GRAHAM AFFECT
Yes we all know tight end Jimmy Graham very well. He's been a thorn in the side of the Buccaneers since he's been in the league. Watching him play every week, I'm amazed at how many teams allow him to release freely off the line of scrimmage. If a team just lets Graham run off the line of scrimmage untouched, they deserved to get victimized. Everytime Graham is lined up on the end of the line of scrimmage, no matter who the defender is for the Bucs, he must be slammed off the snap of the football. Knocking him off the route won't completely stop him, but it sure as heck will screw up the timing between him and Brees. Most of the time Graham will be split out. In that case it's no different. Attack him off the line of scrimmage w/ a backer and have over-the-top help to cover him in the back end. There's no way to truly stop him, but the Bucs must try to contain him.**
3) DESPERATE DEFENSE* Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his defense haven't been able to support their offensive attack through the first four games of the season. The one thing I know about Ryan is that he's not going to get away from pressuring the quarterback. It hasn't been a sackfest early upfront for the Saints ranking 25th in sacks per pass play. Nor have they been as successful defending the pass, ranking 28th in net passing yards given up per game. The more chances Ryan continues to take, the more vulnerable the defense will be. When those pressures come, this will be the Bucs opportune time to strike the Saints defense. Steps were taken in a positive direction last week offensively vs the Steelers. The question is can the Bucs continue to improve on those strides.*
4) GLENNON TIME**
The Bucs young 2nd year back up quarterback showed last week he's grown up from his rookie year. His preparation to be ready to play was evident vs the Steelers. The game film showed composure in the pocket and the ability to have a plan on his pre-snap reads. But the glaring reason why Glennon had success last week was because he protected the football. Never once did he attempt to force a throw especially when the pocket broke down. I said it last week and I'll say it again, protecting the football must be a premium on the road vs. a hostile fan base. Mistakes on the road can steam roll a team because the Saints offense will make you pay dearly. The Saints are an NFL worst -6 in the turnover department. The quarterback that keeps the ball out of the other teams hands will raise his team to victory on Sunday.
Brush up on the Saints' key players before Sunday's matchup in New Orleans.