After an astonishing comeback for the ages in Week one, Brady and the Bucs will come to town on Sunday. A game the New Orleans Saints might need all cylinders firing in the secondary. Or maybe not?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers listed all five of their top receivers on the most recent injury report all listed under limited or doubtful. A major thing to monitor. As far as the Saints secondary, Paulson Adebo was again a non-participant in Thursday's practice which is likely an indication that he won’t play this week due to a lingering ankle injury.
What stood out about the Saints secondary in Week one? Where did they underperform?
The main thing that stood out to me the most was the fact that they communicated well. With three new safeties in the lineup (including Justin Evans at the Nickel), there could have been some minor busts/mishaps in coverage in their first full game together, but they surprised me with a clean game for the most part.
Players that played exceptional were hands down Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Maye. Both are very dominant in what they do best. Lattimore let up only one reception for six yards all game. Maye brought his hard hat in the run game and forced an incredible strip-fumble to set up the teams come from behind victory. Mathieu also had a very solid game leading the defense with the highest PFF rating with a 79.2. Justin Evans also played an outstanding game in coverage forcing multiple incompletions as well. The only guy that struggled at times was cornerback Bradley Roby. He allowed 6 catches on 7 attempts on the day but most of them came in soft quarters coverage or cover three where he is playing from behind. I wouldn’t be too worried about Roby’s performance going forward as he should be in that role for too long barring anything unexpected with Adebo’s injury.
How will they fair against the Bucs?
Brady and the offense did not have a statistically great game against the Cowboys last week but one of the players that did at times look like himself was longtime rivaled receiver Julio Jones. At times Jones looked explosive off the line and played very smooth within his large frame. However, he is also listed on the injury report along with the rest of their deep receiving core. I believe the health status of the Bucs receivers on game day could very well be one of the biggest determining factors on the outcome of this game. Especially for a Saints secondary that has not played this Bucs team together as a unit unlike the groups in years past.
It does not look like Chris Godwin will play in this one hearing Ian Rapoport speak on his hamstring injury earlier in the week which would be a huge advantage for the Saints in the middle of the field. Once again though, Paulsen Adebo’s injury could offset this if he is not able to go. If this is the case, I can see a scenario where Julio Jones gives Bradley Roby some issues in this one. I also wonder if the team might allow for Alontae Taylor to get some snaps at the nickel or even outside at times due to the fact that this is a heavy receiver reliant offense with many dynamics at the position. The team may prefer someone like Taylor over (Justin) Evans at times due to this reason.
The pass rush will also be a crucial factor in the overall success of the secondary. Last week's blank in the sack category will not be acceptable in this one. They must continue to make Brady uncomfortable and make him give the Saints opportunities in the backend to make plays.