Another week of football, and another week of our Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation answers 5 quick questions about the rematch from Week 1 of two NFC South rivals: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers facing off against the New Orleans Saints.
A lot has changed since Week 1? After the beginning of the season, your 11-5 record prediction was looking like it wasn’t as crazy as the football world thought. Now, it’s back to looking like a fantasy. What happened to send the Bucs back tumbling to earth?
Two things: For starters, the defense has not played to the talent level many expected to play at, including myself. All along it was now-former defensive coordinator Mike Smith who would not put his players in position to be successful. Since then, interim coordinator Mark Duffner has tinkered with the personnel and seems to have found a formula in three of the last four weeks. Second, head coach Dirk Koetter has allowed a lot of this to happen. The musical chair game he played with his quarterbacks, allowing his friend Smith to drive the defense straight into the ground, poor decision in red zone playcalling, etc. has all added up to a 3-7 record just two weeks ago. Now at 5-7 and let’s hypothetically say what some (insane) analysts think about finishing 9-7 or 8-8 at best, I still expect Koetter to be fired after the season.
Are there any roster changes (injuries or otherwise) for the Bucs since these two teams met up in Week 1?
Well for starters, quarterback Jameis Winston will start. He missed the first game due to his three-game suspension to open the season. Rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea missed some time the beginning of the year due to a calf injury so he’ll face off against the Saints offensive line for the first time this Sunday. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was placed on I.R. after injuring his shoulder during the Week 1 game in New Orleans. And the rest of the secondary is pretty slim at the moment.
The Buccaneers are just playing spoiler right now (thanks again for beating the Panthers, by the way), but are they still motivated to win for Dirk Koetter?
A player once told me directly that when it’s all said and done, the players try to win for themselves. Now of course there are coaches players truly play for, but I am not sure about that in this case. There have been lots of rumblings and if I were a betting man, I’d say that the players would prefer Koetter not be here. And the ownership group may already have their minds set.
Who’s one player for the Bucs on each side of the ball you expect to make an impact on this game?
Quarterback Jameis Winston has come on real strong as of late and has played much better football both physically and mentally in recent weeks. I do expect him to play well for the offense. And on defense — considering I don’t have 100-percent confidence in them still — I’ll go with the safe bet of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP has been the only consistent one on defense so look for him to make plays on Sunday.
What’s your prediction for the game? Final score?
Saints win, 33-24
A big thanks to Gil for taking the time to answer our questions. Make sure you check out his work and the rest of the good folks at Bucs Nation for tons of Bucs content. You can follow Gil on Twitter @GilArciaBUCS, Bucs Nation @Bucs_Nation, and of course you can always follow me @dunnellz.