Our Interview with the Enemy series continues this week with Evan Wanish from Bucs Nation. Evan joins us to answer a few quick questions before the New Orleans Saints take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on Monday Night Football.
TH: With the Bucs sitting at a disappointing 5-6, what do you feel has been the biggest contributor to their struggles this season?
EW: The offense this year has just not been the same potent unit that it once was. They lost key contributors along the offensive line in the offseason, but players like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin aren’t playing up to par. Combine that with suspect play calling and you get an offense that struggles to put up points.
TH: After losing to the Browns, Bucs fans are currently not very happy with Todd Bowles. What are your overall thoughts on his performance so far this season?
EW: It’s interesting because his “expertise” side of the football is actually doing well as the defense has only allowed 20 or more points five times this season. However, the clock management and in game aggressiveness decisions have left a lot to be desired. Bowles struggled in New York and many thought it was because of a bad roster, but this roster is simply too talented to be 5-6 at this point in the season.
TH: There are a lot of key players set to become free agents after this season, most importantly Tom Brady. He had said he does not plan on retiring so do you see him returning next year to the Bucs, or playing elsewhere and what other players are essential for the Bucs to re-sign?
EW: Well, him saying that I believe was more in response to him potentially retiring mid-season, but I do think there’s a chance he plays another year. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think he truly knows either right now. If he does want to play, expect the Bucs to make an extremely hard push to keep him, but ultimately it will be up to him whether he wants to stay in a familiar place now or go try a new challenge. As far as other pending FAs go, cornerback Jamel Dean and linebacker Lavonte David are near the top of the list. Bucs will likely have interest in bringing both back, but whether they will have the money to do so is another story.
TH: What will be the biggest obstacle that the Bucs will face in order defeat the Saints on Monday night?
EW: If you had asked me this before the Cleveland game my answer might have been different, but now I think it has to be making up for Tristan Wirfs’ absence. The Saints pass rushers have always had Tampa Bay’s number and with Wirfs out, it could be something that really hurts the Bucs on Monday night. They need to find a way to protect Brady consistently or it might not be pretty.
TH: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Bucs are currently 4-point favorites. Do you think they cover the spread and what is your final score prediction?
EW: With as much trouble as the Bucs have had in the past with New Orleans, I have a hard time believing a sweep is likely, so I like the Saints to win outright. New Orleans has struggled this year, but they always seem to get up for these games against the Bucs. The Saints have won the last four meetings in Tampa, and I expect them to make it five on Monday night. New Orleans- 21 Tampa Bay-17
Thank you again to Evan for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out his work @Bucs_Nation
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