When last these teams met, at Raymond James Stadium, the Saints absolutely handed the game to the Bucs with four turnovers, the commission of impactful penalties, poor red zone conversions, and terrible protection of Drew Brees.
What has changed since then? Well, the Bucs have lost a game and had a bye (so they enter the game at 4-3 and sit one half game behind the Saints in the NFC South race), while the Saints whupped up on the Colts and then thought they had a bye, but it turns out there really was a game and they lost it to the Rams, so they are 5-3 now
Come across the jump to see what my Hot Reads reflect for today's rematch in New Orleans (see what I did there? by calling the game as just in "New Orleans" I prevented myself from having to type "Mercedes-Benz Superdome" wait, what? - d'oh!!).
** We can also consider this our pre-pre-game chatter thread for the morning run-up to the game. See you on the other side! **
There's no getting around it. If the o-line cannot PROTECT DREW BREES, all is lost. That is all.
What I'd like to see: The o-line needs to please, please, please, just protect Brees, ok? Give him time to make his progressions and get the ball to the open man.
Checkdown # 1
Turnovers have absolutely killed the Saints in all of their losses this year, so I'm calling for this team to WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE.
Hey, defense. When you get your hands on an interception, don't drop it. Populate to the ball like Coach Williams screams at you, and that way, if it pops loose, you'll be in the right spot to pounce on it or scoop and score.
Hey, offense. Hang onto the ball, in both running and catching. Don't tip the ball to the defense when you should pull it down into your possession. Here's another good idea - don't pass up the open receiver to force it downfield.
What I'd like to see: Take the ball away from the Buccaneers more times than you give it to them. And be sure to score off those takeaways. Complementary football will compliment you with a win.
Checkdown # 2
RED RIGHT RETURN - My Dad taught me this nautical safety tip, and it refers to keeping the red-lit buoys to your right on your return to shore. I think it's kind of a right-of-way deal for boats. But what it means here is that the Saints must improve upon their red zone efficiency.
In the last game, the Saints were only 25% on four trips into the red zone. This time, when they get into the red zone, they need to leave it via a touchdown and extra point, and often.
What I'd like to see: The Saints end up with more red zone TDs than the Bucs and a higher red zone TD percentage than the Bucs, too.
After that ridiculous failure on all levels last week, the best thing I could have the Saints do for the overall improvement of their performance is to REMOVE ALL OF THEIR HEADS FROM THEIR A**** AND PLAY AND COACH LIKE IT ACTUALLY MEANS SOMETHING TO THEM.
There's been some chatter this week about elite teams and whether the Saints are still one of them. Well, elite teams play like it matters each and every week. They don't choke against lesser opponents in two out of three consecutive weeks.
What I'd like to see: Good execution of plays, strong body posture among all players and coaches, running off the field after drives, not shouting at assistant coaches, Drew Brees not on his backside, and when/if it gets rough, keep cool under pressure.
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I truly believe that John "Bluto" Blutarsky said it best in this epic speech (and I guess that right now, the Saints are Otter after getting beat up by Greg Marmalard): CAUTION - VIDEO CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE
So, let's make like the Deltas at Faber College's Homecoming Parade, and UNLEASH HELL upon the
unsuspecting suspecting (correction as per Valmo's idea) Tampa Bay Buccaneers. LET'S DO IT!!!!!! 'Nuff said.