By Max Luckan
After a gut-wrenching loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were looking to get back on track against the New Orleans Saints, who have struggled lately. However, the Bucs weren’t able to get anything going offensively, while the Saints, led by quarterback Drew Brees, had one of their best offensive performances of the season. On the Bucs side, it was a complete disaster, but for the Saints, it was a step in the right direction. Dominating the whole game, the Saints were able to put up 41 points on the Bucs, and their last-ranked defense allowed none, which led to a 41-0 victory for New Orleans over the Bucs, who fell to 6-8.
Right off the bat it was obvious that the Bucs were not well prepared for this matchup against the Saints. Perhaps the most obvious indicator is the lack of points. The Bucs were unable to score at all against the Saints, who have the worst defense in the NFL.
The defensive schemes were ineffective and that’s on Schiano and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. And the offense wasn’t much better. In fact, it wasn’t any better and offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan deserves the blame for that. Schiano put it in simplistic terms. “We’re not operating efficiently,” he said after the game. The coaching staff will have plenty of issues to solve before next week’s game as was evident by a disastrous showing in New Orleans. Grade: D-
The Bucs’ offense was ugly, fruitless, and stagnant all game long. They posted zero points against a defense that has played poorly all season. The Saints came into the game ranked last in the NFL in defense, but the Bucs couldn’t score on Sunday.
At the center of a dreadful offense was quarterback Josh Freeman, who completed 26 of 47 passes and threw four interceptions. Freeman didn’t throw a touchdown and was inaccurate throughout the game. On top of that, Freeman also made multiple bad decisions. Meanwhile, the Bucs fell behind early so the running game was unable to get going and Doug Martin only managed 16 yards on nine carries. There were communication issues all around, and the offense showed an inability to rebound from tough losses the past couple of weeks. Overall, the offensive execution was laughable and should be a serious concern going forward. Grade: F
The defense definitely topped the offense in terms of poor play. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was able to complete 66.7 percent of his passes for 307 yards and four touchdowns. Brees was, in essence, unstoppable on Sunday and the Bucs’ secondary handed in another dismal performance.
Even the usually stout run defense struggled a bit and allowed Mark Ingram to rush for 90 yards and a touchdown. Of course, the Bucs’ defense allowed the big plays, but the tackling was a major issue against the Saints. Brees also had plenty of time to make his throws due to a lack of pressure. The defense is young and inexperienced, but the problems continue to mount and a resolution doesn’t appear to be in sight. It doesn’t get much worse than this. Grade: F
Surprisingly, the special teams unit was the best unit for the Bucs against the Saints. Punt returner Roscoe Parrish continues to show promise at a position that has been notoriously weak for the Bucs. Although Parrish only had one punt return against the Saints, it was a good one for 39 yards.
However, the Bucs did allow the Saints to start with good field position a few times, and the field goal unit didn’t even make it on the field Sunday. The hustle on special teams is certainly there, and rookie cornerback Leonard Johnson made a few plays on special teams. This unit continues to show plenty of promise for the future. Grade: C
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.