Bucs have to worry about Saints defense, too

by Gary Shelton on January 12, 2021

in general

Brady needs to play against against Saints./TIM WIRT

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Their offense is dazzling, a blend of unique talents who always seem to be marching toward the end zone.

They have their own old quarterback, the spectacular Drew Brees. They have the dazzling Alvin Kamara, who can carve a defense up in many ways. They have Tyson Hill, the versatile weapon who creates matchup nightmares. They have a skilled coach, and a massive line, and wonderful receivers.

But the Tampa Bay Bucs, it might be the defense that is scariest of all.

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For all of the fireworks in their defensive huddle, it is that Saints who have handled Tampa Bay better than anyone this year. The Bucs, who are averaging 30 points per game, managed only 36 points in two games. The last time they met, the Bucs absorbed a 38-3 drubbing.

And now, Tampa Bay must try to avoid it happening again.

The Saints, winners of five straight against the Bucs, have had their fun against Tampa Bay. They've intercepted five passes. They've sacked Tom Brady six times. In their last game, the Bucs managed just eight yards rushing (on just five attempts).

In two games against the Saints, Brady has his lowest, and his third-lowest, ratings of the season.

Yeah, the Saints have had their way. They've beaten Bruce Arians in all four games he has coached the Bucs against them.

“It’s mostly been the turnovers," Arians said. "The turnover margin has been lopsided in their favor. We’ve got to protect the football much better and stay balanced. The [home] game here, we left the running game early. Just stay balanced and not turn the ball over.”

So what makes the Bucs think that Sunday night will be different?

“I think it depends when you play them," Arians said. "If it’s September and October, a lot of things change in a season. Players are in, players are out, injuries, all those type of things. The familiarity with the players – Marshon Lattimore knows Mike Evans – who’s going to win that battle? Same thing [with] Tristan Wirfs and Cam Jordan – it comes down to one-on-one battles of guys who know each other. Who’s going to make those game-changing plays in this game?"

There is an adage that it's hard to beat a team three times in the same season. But since 1950, 17 teams have done it.

"I think they’re really, really looking forward to (playing the Saints)," Arians said. "Our guys are ready to play anybody, anywhere [on Sunday] night – that’s for sure. We all kind of had a feeling we knew where we were going, so it was just get yourselves rested up. This extra day is going to help, so get rested up because you know it’s going to be a physical, physical battle.”

The Bucs play against the Saints at 6:15 Sunday night.

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