Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Storylines to Follow: Buccaneers vs. Saints

Five things to look for when the Bucs take on the Saints on Sunday.



1. Big receivers vs. big corners.
Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are all taller than 6-foot-5, creating challenges for any defensive coordinator, especially in the red zone. This offseason, the Saints brought in Brandon Browner, a 6-foot-4 cornerback to help the team defend against the NFC South's tall pass-catchers. The unit is one of the taller groups in the league; in addition to Browner the Saints have two 6-foot-1 corners and a 6-2 safety.

2. Slowing down Drew Brees.
Head Coach Lovie Smith will always stress the importance of winning the turnover battle, as any Head Coach would. In two games against the Saints last year, the Bucs were successful in limiting Brees, intercepting him six times and holding him nearly seven percent below his season average in terms of completion percentage. There are several areas the Bucs need to defend against, but keeping Brees in check is a good place to start.

3. A thin Saints secondary.
The Saints struggled against the pass in Week 1, surrendering more than 300 passing yards to Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. New Orleans' secondary has been plagued with injuries and had two defensive backs, safety Jairus Byrd and cornerback Keenan Lewis, sit out of Thursday's practice. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter said he'd like to take advantage of the depleted group, but success starts with his group first. "They are banged up," Koetter said. "They have, overall, three or four good football players that won't be being playing for New Orleans this week. Arizona was able to do a good job against them in the passing game last week. After the way we played last week we need to steady the ship first and foremost. We have to not contribute to beating ourselves."

4. Protecting Jameis Winston.
The Bucs' offensive line struggled against the Titans, allowing Winston to be sacked four times. The unit has an opportunity for a better performance in Week 2, though. In their season opener the Saints didn't get to Palmer once. Pro Football Focus also ranked the team's pass-rush in the bottom half of the league.

5. Countering New Orleans' offensive line.
The Bucs defensive linemen will be challenged Sunday afternoon when attempting to get their hands on Drew Brees. The Saints' offensive line was the best pass-blocking unit in the league last week, according to Pro Football Focus, with each one of their starting offensive linemen receiving positive grades. Comparatively, the Bucs' had the No. 14 pass rush, along with the NFL's No. 12 and No. 13 pass-rushing defensive tackles in Gerald McCoy and Clinton McDonald. Jacquies Smith was rated No. 17 among defensive ends against the pass.

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