Looking back at the Bucs’ victory over the Saints

by Gary Shelton on September 11, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Fitzpatrick had an amazing day for the Bucs./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Observations

1. Maybe it's just me, but I wonder how many points Ryan Fitzpatrick would have scored against the Bucs' defense on Sunday. A million?

2. There is never a good time for a concussion. Still, you feel for Bucs' receiver DeSean Jackson. He struggled through most of last season to find chemistry with Bucs' starter Jameis Winston. Now, he's off to a flying start and suffers a concussion on one of the few times that the Saints actually tackled him. Tough.

3. Newcomer of the week? Vinny Curry had a sack. But Vita Vea and Ronald Jones II were inactive, and neither Jason Pierre-Paul nor Beau Allen had a tackle.

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4. The Bucs have my permission to draft the next Alvin Kamara.

5. No fumbles. No turnovers. No bad decisions. Yeah, Jameis Winston had a fine afternoon. Seriously, though, isn't it a stretch to proclaim that Fitzpatrick is going to keep Winston on the bench. It was one game, and Fitzpatrick has had his share of bad ones. I'll go as far as to say that Fitzpatrick was terrific, but there is a big difference between 1-0 and 3-0.

Koetter's Bucs hung up 48 points on the Saints./CARMEN MANDATO

(From Dirk Koetter's Day-After Press Conference

(On Ryan Fitzpatrick's communication skills): “Communication in that building is a very difficult thing and they put a lot of pressure on your offense with the crowd noise to be able to communicate. Ryan did a really nice job of that with his hand signals and with his audibles. Adjusting plays at the line of scrimmage – I think Monk (Todd Monken) said it was like eight or nine different times that Ryan did something with a hand signal to change a route slightly. Just the main thing — and we talked about it last night — putting the ball on the money where guys had a chance to play. I think there was only one that he missed really down the field on that all night.”

(On whether it matters who calls the plays): “Monk (Todd Monken) did a great job yesterday calling the plays, but the Buccaneers did a great job of executing the plays yesterday. That was a great example of execution. Monk did a terrific job. We had good rhythm — we’ve had good rhythm all through the preseason. That was a game of execution.”

(On the play of cornerback Vernon Hargreaves): “I thought he was really good. I thought Vernon has played well all through the preseason. He’s really worked on his game. He’s brought energy. He’s been a good leader on the field with the way he’s played, and it was just unfortunate. He made a really nice play on the play that he got hurt on and we’re just hoping for the best in that.”

(On the "every man" quality of Fitzpatrick): “I’m not sure about that. I think if you’ve been around him it’s easy to see, but for people who haven’t met him, I’m not sure. He’s a down to earth guy. He’s got a great sense of humor. He’s witty, he’s intelligent, he’s well-spoken. He backs up what he says with how he plays. The players respect him. He doesn’t try to come on too strong, but at the same time he’s a good leader. When we talked I think earlier in the year about the difference between Jameis’ leadership style and Fitz’s leadership style, there’s different ways to do it and there’s two good examples of it. Both good leaders and we’ve had other good leaders step up so far.”

(On enjoying the victory): “I didn’t really enjoy it that much. I’m very happy for the guys. These guys deserve it. We played hard, but literally a few minutes after that game I was thinking about Philly. That’s just how you have to be. We have injuries, we knew we had left Brent Grimes at home. I start worrying about how we’re practicing on Wednesday. You just start worrying about the things you have to get done and the losses stick with you more than the wins are celebrated. That’s just how it has to be right now – I’m talking for me personally. Players – I hope they lived it up or however they celebrate. Ryan Fitzpatrick – go home and hang with his kids or whatever it is, but you’ve got to move on.”

O.J. Howard makes a big catch for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

5 of the Best Takes

The Saints made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like Steve Young as he ran and passed roughshod through the hapless Saints defense. Before Sunday, Fitzpatrick had played 133 games in his 14-year NFL career and he'd never had a day like the one he enjoyed against the Saints. He passed for a career-high 417 yards and completed 77 percent (21 of 28) of his attempts.

The Saints defense played like it spent the night partying on Bourbon Street. They failed to record a sack or force a turnover, had more personal foul penalties (four) than pass break-ups (three) or quarterback hits (two) and allowed six plays of 34 yards or more. Six!

-- Jeff Duncan, Times-Picayune

It’s hard to even say nobody saw it coming, because clearly Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter spent training camp and the preseason pumping up Ryan Fitzpatrick, the very definition of an NFL journeyman quarterback, for his stint replacing Jameis Winston during the starter's three-game suspension. He made it clear Winston wasn't guaranteed to automatically get his job back when he returned. It was as much about how comfortable he was with Fitzpatrick and, of course “Fitzmagic."

Fitz brought the Magic to the opener. He got into a shootout with New Orleans' Drew Brees in the Superdome, and won. A man who has gone on some epic interception runs during his career on numerous teams threw none Sunday. He went for 417 yards and four touchdowns on 21-of-28 passing. In the nine Bucs possessions excluding the end of halves, they scored seven times, missed one field goal late in the game and punted just once.

-- David Steele, Sporting News

It’s hard to overstate how bad the Saints defense was Sunday. Fitzpatrick torched the group for 417 yards and four touchdowns, finishing with a 156.2 passer rating. Fitzpatrick also ran 12 times for 36 yards and scored, and his 12-yard run late in the fourth quarter converted a third down and effectively ended the game. The pass rush was pretty much non-existent for the Saints. The secondary allowed too many long completions. The linebackers let too many run plays reach the secondary. Sunday’s game was reminiscent of the season opener in Minnesota last year as the Saints defense allowed big play after big play. With a performance as bad as Sunday’s, the Saints coaches and players deserve equal blame. The defense looked totally unprepared, and the players made repeated physical and mental errors.

-- Josh Katzenstien, Times-Picayune

It doesn’t matter how many hits you have in the bank. If the next one is a dud, people are going to talk about it until the next week. After watching the Saints stumble through a stunningly inept defensive performance during Sunday’s 48-40 loss to Tampa Bay, it seems Lattimore might be onto something. It’s possible this team just needed to be “slapped in our face," as Lattimore put it, after a summer full of hype and love. But without any other deposits to pull from, this performance is the only thing we can judge. So after spending the summer talking about how they were going to “prove them right,” this defense will go into next week’s game needing to “prove them wrong.” A standard loss wasn't unfathomable. The way the Saints lost on Sunday was, because it destroyed just about everything we came to believe about this defense last season. The performance would make more sense if the Saints somehow entered an alternate reality where this game was actually last year's Week 3 game after listless performances against Minnesota and New England. It makes no sense as the continuation for what is supposed to be an ascending defense ready to establish itself as one of the better groups in the NFL.

-- Nick Underhill, the Advocate

Game Prediction: The Bucs, on the other hand, will be dealing with an improved New Orleans defense that could wind up being among the best in the conference. And and doing so will unlikely able to give their backup quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) stellar pass protection or a consistent running game. Although most games in this series have been close, this has the markings of being a potential blowout, as the Saints look to make an early season statement. Saints 31, Buccaneers 13

-- Bob "Oops" Rose, Canal Street Chronicles

Alexander was in on nine tackles./CARMEN MANDATO

Game Balls

Offense: This one is easy. Ryan Fitzpatrick has never been so much in control as he was of the Saints. If he hits Chris Godwin (the defender had fallen down) and if Adam Humphries' 65-yard reception isn't called back, he might have threatened the record.

Defense: You could go with Kwon Alexander or Lavonte David, who each had nine tackles. But, for a change, let's give the award to the maligned Vernon Hargreaves III, who had seven tackles and forced a fumble that Justin Evans returned for a score.

Special teams: Yeah, he missed one at the end. But Chandler Catanzaro hit six extra points and two field goals.

Donovan Smith and his linemates allowed no sacks./CARMEN MANDATO


Quarterback: What else would you want Ryan Fitzpatrick to do? For a day, he was a Pro Bowl quarterback. He threw, he ran and he made the full beard look good again. Grade: A+.

Running back: Peyton Barber's contribution was hidden by his stats, which weren't anything to brag about. But Barber set a tone early with his running. He'll be just fine. Grade: B+.

Offensive line: Most of us are hard on the Bucs' line. But it kept Fitzpatrick untouched Sunday afternoon. Again, it can do better in the run game, but it wasn't horrible. Grade: B.

Receivers: This was supposedly an improved Saints' defense, but all it could do was chase Sunday. The Bucs had two 100-yard receivers, and it looked as if they could have had more. Grade: A++. (Plus extra credit. What can be a higher grade than that?)

Defensive line: Vinny Curry got a sack, but the Bucs didn't do much to bother Drew Brees. He threw eight incompletions on the day. A decent job against the run. Grade: C-.

Linebackers: Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David combined for 18 tackles. No one did much in coverage. Grade: C+.

Secondary: Brees had about as good a day as Fitzpatrick when it came to working over a secondary. Justin Evans did return a fumble for a score. Grade: D.

Kicker: Some fans are down on Chandler Catanzaro, but he did make eight kicks (two field goals, six extra points). Still, missing the clinching kick hurts. Grade: C+.

Coach: Say what you want about Dirk Koetter, but it's not easy for a head coach in the NFL to give up play-calling when that's what got him to where he is. Koetter had his team ready to go. Grade: A.

DeSean Jackson scored on two long catches./CARMEN MANDATO

NFL Catches of More Than 50 Yards

1. Jerry Rice* 36

2. Randy Moss* 29

3. Lance Alworth* 27

3. DeSean Jackson 27

3. Terrell Owens* 27

* -- Hall of Fame

Fitzpatrick makes a call at the line./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Sharpshooting Bucs

1. Craig Erickson vs. Indianapolis, 9/11/94     158.3

2. Ryan Fitzpatrick at New Orleans, 9/9/18    156.2

3. Trent Dilfer at New Orleans, 11/7/99           151.5

4. Brad Johnson vs. Minnesota, 11/3/02         148.3

5. Shaun King vs. Minnesota, 10/29/00          148.0

Evans had a big day for Tampa Bay./CARMEN MANDATO

Most Yardage, Game (Bucs)

1. Doug Williams              at Minnesota, 11/16/80           486

2. Vinny Testaverde         at Indianapolis, 10/16/88         469

3. Josh Freeman              vs. New Orleans, 10/21/12      420

4. Ryan Fitzpatrick         at New Orleans, 9/9/18          417

5. Brian Griese                 at Chicago, 9/21/08                 407

Most Yards Per Attempt

Name Opponent, Date Yds./Att.

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick at New Orleans, 9/9/18 14.89

2. Vinny Testaverde vs. Green Bay, 9/13/92 14.52

3. Jameis Winston at Carolina, 12/24/17 13.59

4. Craig Erickson vs. Indianapolis, 9/11/94 13.04

5. Josh Freeman vs. Kansas City, 10/14/12 12.62

Vinny Curry brings down Drew Brees./CARMEN MANDATO

NFL's Top Passers
(Through Sunday's game)

Player, team Att.-Comp. Yds. TDS. Int. Rating

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, TB 21-28 417 4 0. 156.2

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB 20-30 286 3 0 130.7

3. Drew Brees, NO 37-45. 439 3 0. 129.5

4. Patrick Mahomes, KC 15-27 256 4 0 127.5

5. Joe Flacco, Balt. 25-34 236. 4. 0. 121.7

Gerald McCoy enjoyed watching the offense./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Leading Receivers (yardage)

          Player, team.   Catches, yards.   Average

1 Michael Thomas NO 16 180 11.3.

2 Tyreek Hill KC 7 169 24.1

2 Julio Jones ATL 10 169 16.9

4 Mike Evans TB 7 147 21.0

5 DeSean Jackson TB 5. 146 29.2

Chandler Catanzaro was busy kicking./CARMEN MADATO

Total Offense

1. Los Angeles Chargers 541.0

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 529.0

3. New Orleans Saints 475.0

4. Pittsburgh Steelers. 472.0

5. Denver Broncos 470.0

Adam Humphries' 65-yard catch could have put the Bucs over 500 if it stood./CARMEN MANDATO

Passing Offense

1. New Orleans Saints 432.0

2. Los Angeles Chargers 418.0

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 417.0

4. Denver Broncos 324.0

5. Pittsburgh Steelers 313.0

Barber takes a handoff from Fitzpatrick./CARMEN MANDATO

5 NFL Teams That Enjoyed the Weekend

1. Tampa Bay

2. Baltimore

3. Philadelphia

4. Green Bay

5. Denver

5 Teams That Didn't

1. Buffalo

2. Arizona

3. Chicago

4. Dallas

5. L.A. Chargers

Fitzpatrick had the best game of his career./CARMEN MANDATO

5 Great Beards

1. Abraham Lincoln

2.  Billy Gibbons

3. Dan Haggerty

4. Santa Claus

5. Ryan Fitzpatrick

5 Final Thoughts<

1. If the Bucs are going to throw up 48 points a game, I don't care if Leeman Bennett is calling the plays in through Josh Freeman. I do wonder why Dirk Koetter has played it so coy at times when asked about it. He's still in charge, right?

2. I think we have the measure of Ronald Jones II. He's going to be inactive for some time, because he's the third tailback on the team who doesn't help on special teams. For Jones to see the field, he needs either Peyton Barber or Jacquizz Rodgers to get hurt.

3. It's disappointing that the Bucs had both of their top two draft picks inactive Sunday. Hey, does anyone wonder if Vita Vea can cover a receiver deep. No?

4. The last time the Bucs scored 48 in an opener was Ray Perkins' debut. So don't get silly.

5. The Bucs had Chris Chandler for a while, but he couldn't win. They had Steve DeBerg, who competed hard. They had Casey Weldon, who once got into a fistfight with starter Trent Dilfer on the golf course. But as of now, Ryan Fitzpatrick is my favorite Bucs' backup ever. Who's with me?

Looking Ahead

5 Best Eagles

1. Reggie White

2. Chuck Bednarik

3. Brian Dawkins

4. Jerome Brown

5. Don Henley

5 Favorite Eagles

1. Jerome Brown

2. Ron Jaworski

3. Nick Foles

4. Andre Waters

5. Norm Van Brocklin

Best Game

Is there any doubt? Even today, some longtime Bucs fans will tell you that they enjoyed the NFC title game at the end of the 2002 season more than even the Super Bowl. It had drama, with the comeback and with Ronde Barber's touchdown interception at the end. Even now, you can hear Rich McKay in the press box. yelling "Run, Ronde. Don't ever stop running."

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