Saints will tell the Bucs how good they are

by Gary Shelton on October 3, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Godwin has been a go-to receiver for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Thursday, 3 a.m.

As the Tampa Bay Bucs continue to grow, it was inevitable that they would be measured against the New Orleans Saints.

After all, aren't the Saints the usual measuring stick in the NFC South? Atlanta is good, then bad. Carolina rises and falls. But the Saints have won two straight division titles, and they've made the playoffs seven of the last 11 years.

Now, their quarterback (Drew Brees) is hurt. Can the Bucs take advantage of it?

"Obviously, we have a big game on the road in our division for first place, so all those things add to a little bit of excitement," said Bucs' coach Bruce Arians. "Right now, I’m just worried about us – not the Saints.

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"They’ve built a hell of a roster. They’ve got depth everywhere. Getting Sheldon Rankins back adds to that front. They’ve got speed on defense. They have a great kicking game. So, Sean (Payton) has always had a hell of a football team – it’s just the offense has overshadowed it a little bit. Right now, they’re relying on the defense and the defense is showing up.”

On other topics, Arians said:

(On winning at Carolina and Los Angeles): It gives you huge confidence when you win at those type of places – Carolina and L.A. Now, it’s just getting on planes and going to play. It’s not away, away, away. The crowds were big there. They’re going to be huge in this one – it’s probably the noisiest place in the league to play – but I think we can handle it."

(On how Mike Evans and Chris Godwin complement each other): "They can do so many different things. They’re not always sitting in one spot. They’re both good blockers, so they can get through play-action because they block. They’ve got great hands and they’re good receivers – that’s a hell of a combination. They can run. Just keep throwing the damn ball to them."

(On how Brees' absence changes the game): "It’s totally different. It’s unusual to get ready for two quarterbacks. They’ve got two really good ones. I’ve always had a ton of respect for Teddy Bridgewater. What Taysom Hill does is amazing with his skill set and he’s so dangerous in the punting game as a faker and all the things that go with that. You’ve got to be on your toes the whole time, knowing who’s in there."

(On the strength of the Saints' defense): "Their front four – their front six, really. This might be the best front four we’ve seen so far."

(On what he has learned about the Bucs over the last month): "I think we’re growing every day. We’re learning things every day. Each week’s different. Each set of circumstances in the second half of each game have been different, and how we’ve handled them. We’re a little more resilient than I thought we might be, but I hoped we would be. There are a lot of good things.”

(On quarterback Jameis Winston: "He’s just growing in the offense – more and more repetitions and more things you see on film in games – it’s just a natural growth process. He might be ahead of the curve for where I thought maybe he would be. He’s just playing really, really well right now. The last four years – I don’t care. I’m only judging you on what you’re doing today with us. Play quarterback the way we want to play – he’s doing a heck of a job of it. I don’t care about the past.”

(On the offensive line against the Rams): "You can’t say enough. You don’t get deep shots down the field against that team very often and not get knocked flat on your butt when you’re letting it go. The offensive line and the tight ends did a heck of a job in the running game – and you add the receivers to the running game – but the front five and the tight ends did a hell of a job.”

(On the pressure of the defensive line): I’d like to get home a few more times. We were disruptive (and) we got (Jared) Goff off the spot a lot. He made some hellacious throws as he was moving around, but we were chasing him around. We wanted to get him off the spot, and if we can do that with Teddy (Bridgewater) against this offensive line – which is probably as big and strong as any we’ve seen – then we’ll be successful.”

(On running back Alvin Kamara): "I think with Ingram gone. That’s what he did at Tennessee. This guy’s a hell of a back. This is four (strong running backs) in a row, but he is indeed different at jet sweeps and the way Sean [Payton’s] using him to get him in space. He’s probably the most dangerous receiver of the group of running backs that we’ve played so far, as far as angle routes going to the house, matchups on backers and safeties – he’s a legitimate threat, like (Christian) McCaffrey.”

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