The Saints haven’t won an opening game since 2013.
Time passes like a Sean Payton offense and it’s no coincidence that’s the last time this team won an opening game was the last time they had a stable roster, with fewer questions than answers in the first game of the season.
“It has been a while, we just went through the numbers. We have to start faster, obviously take advantage of playing at home and understand the little things that win. Certainly, that is a focal point heading into this weekend.” - Sean Payton
Week 1 for a number of teams sometimes equates to week 5 of the NFL preseason and the Bucs are one of those teams.
Meanwhile New Orleans has a superior coaching staff that boast 3 former or current head coaches. (Payton, Mike Nolan, Allen), a future defensive coordinator (Aaron Glenn), and an offensive coordinator that declined an interview for a HC Job (Pete Carmichael). Combine that with superior talent that boast the reigning offensive ROY (Alvin Kamara), and defensive ROY (Marshon Lattimore), and some guy named Drew Brees, who isn’t even the best player on the team (Cameron Jordan) and the Saints have the potential to dominate Tampa Bay.
“Within the division you have two games from a year ago as opposed to one (for a non-division opponent) and you have every snap of film, defense, offense and the kicking game on both teams as far back as you want to go and their whole season last year and their preseason. – Sean Payton
It takes coaching to put talent into positions to succeed and that’s where the Saints have a significant advantage vs the Buccaneers. A wrinkle here or there that creates a mismatch could determines the difference in a play being made or the punt team coming on the field.
Let’s partake in a brief history lesson shall we?
Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith are former NFC South rehashes that were either fired or not retained because they couldn’t beat Sean Payton and Drew Brees!
Dating back to 2008 Mike Smith playing in the dome as a coordinator or head coach has only beaten Sean Payton twice. The Saints since 2007 have only lost to the Buccaneers at home once. At home a Sean Payton offense has only scored less than 23 points vs Mike Smith once and in 5 of those games they scored 30+ points.
No better way to start fast than by winning the coin toss and if history has any say so to the present, New Orleans could quickly go up 7-10 points, making things Bubba Sparxxx ugly for the Buccaneers.
Match-ups to Watch vs Buccaneers
- Saints run offense vs Buccaneers run defense.
Sean keeping 10 offensive lineman suggest we’ll attempt to be physical and wear down a Bucs front seven that is a little smallish at the LB position. A few jumbo packages and a hard nosed runner in Mike Gillislee should set a tone very early for New Orleans that helps keeps the offense on schedule and mitigate the Buccaneers refurbished pass-rush. Tampa also has three new starters on their defensive line and giving them multiple looks could that test their chemistry as a unit.
- Saints pass offense vs Buccaneers pass defense
Safety play is important when facing drew Brees and for as iffy as the Buccaneers CB situation looks, I’d say the safety position is slightly weaker. Mike Smith has to know that he doesn’t have the secondary to give heavy man looks, so playing zone and telling their improved D-line to go eat is his only real option. Zone coverage plays right into the hands of the offense and I expect protection to hold up so Drew and the receivers can find the open holes to exploit.
- Lavonte David vs Alvin Kamara
If the Bucs defense is to have any success it will have to start with limiting Alvin Kamara. That is easier said than done. Vs Tampa Bay in 2 games last year Kamara had 19 car for 112 yds and 2 TD’s in the run game alone. He also had 12 rec for 168 yards and 1 TD in the passing game. His only blemish was a fumble that was forced by none other than David. That’s a lot of yards AND scoring, (hi Julio) generated by one player.
Random Thought I
With Boston Scott on the practice squad developing as a returner, expect WR Tommylee Lewis to be on a De’vante Harris like leash to begin the season.
Random Thought II
It was suggested that Colin Kaepernick is seen as Malcolm X and Malcolm Jenkins as Martin Luther King by the NFL. I’d say those roles deserve to be reversed.
If the Saints go up early on the Buccaneers it will take away the run game which is the key to their play-action oriented offense, and their best chance at keeping the dome quiet so they can compete in this game. New Orleans has the look of an NFC South bully and Tampa could soon find themselves stuffed in a locker. Saints win 31-7