The Bucs are set as much as win one other Tremendous Bowl this season. They’ve one of the vital proficient rosters within the NFL, and it’s totally truthful to say harm luck is the largest impediment that may hold them from hoisting the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in three years.
Nonetheless, the highway to Arizona received’t be simple. Tampa Bay’s schedule is filled with 2021 playoff groups. The Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs, Bengals, 49ers and Rams are all on the slate. However other than the Rams, the workforce the Bucs might need to see the least is the Saints, a workforce they’ll see twice.
New Orleans has crushed Tampa Bay in seven straight common season video games courting again to 2018. Since Tom Brady’s arrival in 2020, the Bucs are 0-4 towards the Saints within the common season. In fact, fortunes have been reversed when the 2 groups met within the playoffs two seasons in the past. Tampa Bay received 30-20 on the Superdome to clinch a spot within the NFC Championship Recreation.
Playoffs apart, although, the Bucs have a Saints drawback. However why?
Former Saints Security: New Orleans Is ‘Constructed’ To Beat Tampa Bay
Just lately retired security Malcolm Jenkins spoke on the Wealthy Eisen Present on Thursday, and he had a lot to say in regards to the Saints’ dominance over Brady and the Bucs within the final two years. Jenkins, who spent 2009-2013 and 2020-2021 with the Saints, mentioned all of it comes right down to matchups. He mentioned it’s not essentially about Brady. Somewhat, it’s about what New Orleans does to remove from what the seven-time Tremendous Bowl champion quarterback does finest.
“These two years, you had myself matched up with Gronk. That was matchup,” Jenkins mentioned. “You’ve got [Marshon] Lattimore on Mike Evans. That’s a fantastic matchup. CJ Gardner-Johnson’s within the slot [and] was on [Antonio Brown] or [Chris] Godwin. That’s a fantastic matchup. On the opposite facet was [Paulson] Adebo or Janoris Jenkins, who can match up with any third receiver.
“Tom Brady’s complete sport is ‘make the most of matchup points.’ There are none when the Saints play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.”
Jenkins has some extent. Brady has been rendered ineffective towards the Saints within the 4 common season matchups between the 2 groups. It hasn’t at all times been his fault, both. It’s a matter of matchups, sport planning, takeaways and generally circumstances. Think about, in fact, that the final matchup featured accidents to Evans, Godwin and working again Leonard Fournette within the first half of a 9-0 sport.
Right here’s a have a look at the breakdown of Brady’s performances over the Bucs’ final 4 common season video games towards the Saints:
2020 Week 1 (NO 34, TB 23): 23-of-36 (63.9%), 239 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT
2020 Week 9 (NO 38, TB 3): 22-of-38 (57.9%), 209 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT
2021 Week 8 (NO 36, TB 27): 28-of-40 (70%), 375 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, fumble
2021 Week 15 (NO 9, TB 0): 26-of-48 (54.2%), 214 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, fumble
Total, Brady is 99-162 (61.1%) for 1,037 yards and 6 touchdowns in these 4 video games. He threw eight interceptions and fumbled twice over these 4 matchups. The largest difficulty is the turnovers, which the Saints have performed a improbable job of forcing. However there’s a deeper, extra philosophical query right here that Tampa Bay should reply in 2022, and it’s all about steadiness.
How Can The Bucs Discover A Answer In 2022?
Tampa Bay travels to New Orleans in Week 2 earlier than the 2 groups meet once more in Week 13 at Raymond James Stadium. So, what can the Bucs do to reverse the development and snap their shedding streak to the Saints this season? Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds wrote about it in one in every of his SR’s Fab 5 columns final month. And, as Jenkins instructed Wealthy Eisen, the formulation lies throughout the Bucs’ January 2021 playoff win over the Saints.
“That one 12 months the place we beat them twice they usually beat us within the playoffs, they received that sport off of working the ball and their protection taking the ball away,” Jenkins mentioned. “That, to me, when Brady tries to win that sport throwing it, that performs proper into the Saints’ palms. That model of play, Brady has to win that sport along with his left hand. That’s what makes that matchup so attention-grabbing and so troublesome for him. As a result of what he does finest — what works each single week — just isn’t going to work towards the Saints.”
Over the course of 4 common season video games towards New Orleans, Brady has averaged 40.5 cross makes an attempt per sport. Right here’s the speeding breakdown over these 4 video games:
2020 Week 1 (NO 34, TB 23): 26 rush makes an attempt, 86 yards (3.3 avg.)
2020 Week 9 (NO 38, TB 3): 5 rush makes an attempt, 8 yards (1.6 avg.)
2021 Week 8 (NO 36, TB 27): 14 rush makes an attempt, 71 yards (5.1 avg.)
2021 Week 15 (NO 9, TB 0): 21 rush makes an attempt, 118 yards (5.6 avg.)
That the majority latest matchup is an attention-grabbing one. The Bucs truly ran the ball nicely, and you need to marvel if they may’ve mustered up 10 factors had they not been hit with three key accidents all through the night time. However on the entire, Tampa Bay appears to favor the cross greater than the run. And as Jenkins mentioned, that isn’t going to work as nicely towards the Saints.
Going again to the playoff matchup, the Bucs ran the ball 35 instances for 127 yards (3.6 avg.). That helped them win the time of possession battle, and it made it in order that they weren’t making an attempt to win the sport solely on Brady’s arm. He accomplished 18-of-33 cross makes an attempt that night time for 199 yards and two touchdowns. He additionally added a speeding landing of his personal.
Working The Soccer Is Simply One Key To Overcoming New Orleans
To say that the Bucs simply must run the ball extra to beat the Saints may sound like an oversimplification of the matchup. But it surely definitely can’t harm. When requested about their Saints drawback earlier this offseason, Tampa Bay tight finish Cameron Brate additionally pointed to working the soccer as a possible key, drawing again to that playoff sport.
“You see the sport we received towards the Saints within the playoffs in 2020. We ran the soccer. I feel that’s the primary factor you need to do towards a protection like that,” Brate mentioned. “You must have them respect the run. For no matter motive, towards these groups, we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t get the run sport going.”
It isn’t simply the run sport for the Bucs, although. Suppose again to Jenkins’ rationalization of the Saints’ loss to the Bucs within the playoffs two seasons in the past. On offense, Tampa Bay ran the ball nicely. And on protection, Todd Bowles’ unit took the ball away. The Bucs compelled 4 turnovers in that sport and completed with a plus-four turnover margin.
Within the 4 common season losses to New Orleans, Tampa Bay has posted a turnover margin of minus-nine.
That’s clearly not going to get the job performed.
The Bucs don’t want to beat the Saints to win the NFC South. They proved that in 2021. Nonetheless, the workforce simply has to recover from the hump towards New Orleans this 12 months. The blueprint seems to be there. It’s nearly selecting to make use of it — after which executing it at a excessive degree.