The Buccaneers defense was going up against a backup quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, and Bridgewater had one of his best games as a pro completing 28/36 for 314 yards with four touchdowns and one interception against a secondary that Bruce Arians termed “soft”.
There were a ton of issues on defense and it seems that this defense is regressing as the season goes on instead of getting better.
For the third game in a row the Bucs defense allowed over 400 yards of offense and they now have given up an average of 491 yards a game over the last three games.
Vernon Hargreaves continues to struggle against the better receivers in the league as Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas had his way with Hargreaves catching all five passes thrown his way when covered by Hargreaves.
Arians seemed to be a bit disappointed in the play of Hargreaves as he said that he expects more from Hargreaves and thinks that he can play better.
Arians said that when Carlton Davis was ejected for his helmet to helmet hit, that changed the defensive strategy a bit and it hurt the defense when it came to covering Michael Thomas.
The plan was to play the more physical Davis on Thomas most of the game, but after the ejection Hargreaves, Edwards, and Murphy Bunting all took their turns at covering Thomas and neither one had any success.
Thomas finished the game with 11 catches for 182 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bucs did Keep Alvin Kamara in check as he managed just 63 yards and averaged 3.9 yards a carry well off his 4.7 Yards per carry average on the season.
Third down was a problem for the defense as they let the Saints convert 8/15 to keep the chains moving.
The Winston haters cannot blame this one on the quarterback as Winston completed 15/27 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike Evans did not have a catch in the game for just the second time in his career. Evans second game as a pro in 2015 was the last time that the wide receiver did not have a catch in a game.
With Godwin and Evans as the primary options at receiver, It’s time for the third, fourth and fifth receivers to start making plays. With Perriman out, it’s time for Scotty Miller, Bobo Wilson, and Justin Watson to become part of the offense.
With OJ Howard being used primarily as a blocker, the Bucs need some other receiving options besides Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
The Saints defensive line manhandled the Bucs offensive line as Winston was sacked a season high six times and was hit on at least nine other occasions.
The Bucs just couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm offensively as the Saints defense kept the pressure on all game. The Bucs offense was 3/11 on converting third downs as they just could not sustain the drives when they needed to.
The Bucs offensive line which had their worst performance of the season will be without the starting right side of the line next week in London against Carolina.
Tackle Demar Dotson suffered a hamstring injury and will probably be out for next week. Guard Alex Cappa broke his arm in the second quarter but played the rest of the game.
Cappa will miss three to four weeks and will be replaced by Earl Watford. Josh Wells who the Bucs picked up from Jacksonville will start for Dotson.
The Bucs now find themselves 2-3 and trail the first place Saints by two games in the division.
With over a quarter of the season in the books, We are starting to get a pretty good feel for this Bucs team.
Offensively, the Bucs do not seem to be as proficient as what we thought they’re were gong to be. On the defensive side of the ball, although improved somewhat from last year the defense has much to improve upon from being stopping teams on third downs, to improved tackling as the Bucs tackling was not as good as it needs to be against the Saints.
The Bucs will leave for London on Wednesday where they will play another division opponent the Carolina Panthers in a 930 AM kickoff On Sunday morning.