We’re back again with the next segment in the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation answers 5 quick questions before the Week 5 matchup on Sunday: the first NFC South divisional game for the Saints as they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Who’s the real Jameis Winston this year? The one who put up 385 passing yards and four touchdowns against the Rams or the one who threw for only 194 yards with three interceptions against the 49ers?
Well, I think you’d have to see what the team has done on offense since Week 1. The major problem in Week 1 were drops, wrong routes by receivers, and questionable line play. Ever since Bruce Arians put players on notice following the loss to the 49ers (specifically the WRs), the offense has performed much better which shows with Winston’s performances. The passing offense is starting to come together in the last three weeks. His release time has gone from 3.02 in Week 1 to 2.53 in Week 2, 2.49 in Week 3, and 2.46 in Week 4. Winston has thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions in the last three weeks with passer ratings of 103.4, 112.4, and 120.5. He has gotten more comfortable, receivers are beginning to make their hot reads, and Byron Leftwich’s playcalling has gotten much better since the opener.
Finish this sentence: If the Bucs want to win this game, they must ________.
Continue to be a dominating run defense and let Teddy Bridgewater try to beat them. Alvin Kamara is an obvious threat running to the outside and the Bucs need to continue showing they can contain the inside and the perimeter like they did against the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey. The offense of course can’t take a step back, but they should be fine. Keyword: should.
What’s the biggest weakness on the Tampa Bay defense? Biggest strength?
Tampa Bay’s biggest weakness is their secondary. Following up to the previous comment of the Buccaneers forcing Bridgewater to beat them, it’s certainly possible. The 170-yard or so average the Saints’ passing offense has thrown for since Brees went out can easily double this week because the defensive backfield is not that good in the passing game. Their corners are beat often. Their biggest strength is the run defense. Running backs have struggled against the Buccaneers so far this season. Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme has Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh allowing them to eat up the middle of the line with the linebackers storming the gaps and freeing some to contain the outside in the run game.
How healthy are the Bucs coming into Week 5? Any key injuries?
Bucs are healthy for the most part. The biggest player the Bucs have not been able to see much of this season was first-round selection Devin White. The rookie linebacker was injured early on in Carolina during their Week 2 matchup and hasn’t seen the field since. Good news is he returned to practice this week. Some question marks for this week that popped up on the injury report could be just because they are in need of some rest, but names to monitor would be Demar Dotson, Ryan Jensen, and Chris Godwin. Oh, and the NFC Defensive Player of the Month Shaq Barrett was also on there. But he should be okay.
What is your prediction for the game? Who wins? Final score?
If the Bucs defense plays the game they can against Bridgewater and not turn him into a hall of famer, I see the Bucs winning this one 30-17. Their offense is starting to click and I don’t see them struggling. But then again, it’s any given Sunday, right?
Thank-you, Gil, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out Gil and the work his guys are doing over at Bucs Nation. You can follow Bucs Nation on Twitter @Bucs_Nation, Gil @GilArciaBUCS, and of course you can follow me @dunnellz.