Saints show Bucs how far away they are

by Gary Shelton on November 18, 2019

in general

Fans show their frustration with how this season is going./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 4 a.m.

Ah, yes. Back home again.

Ten games in, and one again, the Tampa Bay Bucs are in the basement. Once again, they are looking up ... at everyone.

The quarterback is a disaster. The running game is invisible. The defense has yet to figure out the forward pass. The offensive line is confused. And the team is in fourth place (or tied for it) for the 11th time in the 18th years since the AFC South was formed.

Sunday was an excellent time to examine the distance between the Bucs and the No. 1 New Orlean Saints, who came into Tampa Bay and drubbed them 34-17.

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O.J. Howard loses control of the ball to cause a turnover./STEVEN MUNCIE

Consider, for instance, the quarterbacks. Saints' starter Drew Brees threw for three touchdowns and had a rating of 122.4. Bucs' starter Jameis Winston threw for four interceptions and had a rating of 57.1.

For instance, back Alvin Kamara had 75 yards rushing for the Saints. Ronald Jones had 13 yards for the Bucs.

For instance, the Saints' Michael Thomas, the No. 1 receiver in the league, had eight catches for 114 years. The Bucs' Mike Evans the No. 2 receiver in the league, had four catches for 69 yards.

At most positions, the Saints had a decided edge in the game. New Orleans took a 20-0 lead, and at one point, had 20 points by the time the Bucs had 10 plays. At one point, Brees had a rating of 127.3 to 10.7 for Winston.

Devin White brings Kamara down./STEVEN MUNCIE

“Too many mistakes to beat a good team and obviously when we drop passes and the quarterback gets an interception because we dropped the ball," Bucs' coach Bruce Arians said. "Then, the one before the half was huge because we had a chance for a double score if we come out and score. Big, big, big plays. (We) didn’t get off the field defensively. They were over 54 percent on third down, which was huge. Their time of possession, I think they had the ball the entire first quarter. But, we held them to six points. Then, the interception. Which wasn’t (quarterback) Jameis (Winston’s) fault. Other than that, it’s very disappointing because we had such a great week of practice. Knew we were ready to play, just still isn’t showing up quite enough on Sundays against good teams.”

Actually, there were a series of miscues. The final three interceptions that Winston threw were his fault. The team got an offensive interference call on a successful fourth-and-one play.

Winston now has 97 turnovers in his five seasons. He has 18 on the season.

“I would say he has 10," Arians said. "Guys dropping balls and getting them to the other team, how many have we seen? I don’t count those. He got hit low in the ankle [and] that last one flies out of his hand high. He probably should have come out of the game. He was probably too tough for his own good there.”

Winston ended the day with an injured ankle.

“It’s a medial (ankle ligament)," Arians said "We’ll see how bad it is tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”

Said Winston: “My ankle – I’m going to be fine.” 

Arians said that the Saints are a handful.

“You pick your poison with these guys," Arians said. "We had a lot of coverages where we were trying to double 13 (wide receiver Michael Thomas). Then 41 (Kamara), or 87 (tight end Jared Cook) gets involved. It’s a really good offensive football team, and Kamara is really tough to cover for a linebacker.”

The Bucs play at the Atlanta Falcons Sunday at 1 p.m.

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