The New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face off Sunday in a divisional showdown that could serve towards several playoff implications as the season goes on. A New Orleans win could propel the Saints with a road towards another divisional championship along with making a national statement on the spookiest day of the year. New Orleans still isn’t 100 percent healthy coming into the matchup but either are the Bucs. In the second game played in the Superdome for the Saints this regular season, along with an emotional and much-needed return for Mark Ingram, the energy should be through the roof.
For more on Tampa Bay, we caught up with SB Nation’s Bucsnation.com own Gil Arcia. Gil was delightful enough to answer our questions in detail for what could be one of the most important games of the season, especially from NOLA’s perspective. With that being said, let’s get this rolling and we hope you enjoy the latest extension of Outsider’s Perspective.
The Bucs have overcome several key injuries all over their team since the beginning of the season. While their schedule has been pretty helpful they still deserve some credit. What’s been the key to overcoming the losses like for example in the secondary?
Well, injuries in the beginning part of the season is good to get out of the way because as you stated the schedule has been favorable during this stretch. The key to overcoming the injuries has been jumping out ahead early in games. This has allowed defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to disguise and mix-up blitzes with the front seven which has given the Bucs defense to take some of the pressure off of the secondary.
Through the first three weeks of the season, the defense played back more. That hasn’t been the case in recent weeks. Tampa Bay has also gotten their running game going. That has given the defense a breather on the sidelines for a longer period of time as opposed to striking so quickly and putting the defense right back out onto the field.
Who’s the best player on the Bucs right now that most Saints fans probably don’t know about?
First-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka has been quiet on the state sheet this season, but he has done everything the Bucs defense has asked him to do. He has been able to drop back into coverage and disrupt passing lanes, he has been able to pressure the quarterback, his speed has allowed him to get to the edge and run down ball carriers, and has been good thus far against opposing run games. Saints may hear his name called a few times this Sunday.
From your side of things. What worries you most about another matchup against New Orleans?
The secondary is without question the most concerning part each week regardless of the opponent, to be honest. Richard Sherman may not be close to 100-percent and the other corners are guys that have seen elevated playing time due to those injuries across the unit behind corner Jamel Dean — who has also been in-and-out of games as he’s been banged up as well. So with all that said, Jameis Winston could have a decent afternoon.
In fact, I expect him to especially since head coach Sean Payton seems to always call a good game against Tampa Bay.
What’s the biggest misconception about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers right now?
That it’s all Tom Brady. As I have stated previously, Bowles is finally getting around to letting the defensive front seven loose, the offensive line has been much better even compared to last year when they were really good, and the receivers are no longer “miscommunicating” on the hot routes with Brady. Their success this season to this point has truly been a collective effort.
Your outside perspective on the New Orleans Saints?
Not many people in the Bay area agree here, but I have always been a fan of head coach Sean Payton. I honestly feel that if he and Winston stay together for a lengthy period of time (and they should) there is no reason for the Saints to continue to be successful. I know some people may read this and say, “Oh, there goes Gil showing his FSU-Winston-bias again” but that’s far from it. I think what Winston has done so far this season under Payton is proof that the two can continue being successful together. With more time and games under their belts, Payton’s coaching style and play-calling will only allow Winston to continue to flourish.
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