Feel the Fitzmagic, yal. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the biggest underdogs coming into Week One of the regular season, came into the Big Easy and curb stomped the defending NFC South Champions in their own crib. While Bucs and Saints set an NFL Record for most points scored in an opening week game in the Super Bowl era, the score wasn’t indicative at how well the Bucs played on Sunday.
1) Of course, there’s no one we can begin with other than Fitzmagic himself, Ryan Fitzpatrick. He had the game of his life, folks. The numbers were staggering, the execution flawless, it may have been one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen from a Bucs quarterback. With Fitz, there’s always a little good and a little bad – but there was no bad this week. The Saints were lucky he missed on a bomb to Chris Godwin or they would have been 50-burgered.
2) I have a feeling much of this Doubloons is going to be on offense because they played so flawlessly. It begins up front and the Bucs offensive line did a tremendous job keeping Fitz clean, giving him plenty of time to throw allowing him the ability to really attack the Saints down the field. New Orleans simply had no answer for the Bucs arsenal of weapons but Fitzpatrick rarely felt the rush, having a very comfortable pocket most of the game.
3) Kudos to Dirk Koetter for swallowing his ego and allowing offensive coordinator Todd Monken to continue to call plays. Dirk loves to call plays. He likes having that type of ownership. However, he’s a better head coach when he doesn’t have to worry about making that next call. Monken was dialed in, aggressive and he was able to identify the Saints’ weaknesses and relentlessly abused it. Fantastic job all around by the Bucs’ offensive coaching staff. I’d also like to add, great job not going too conservative too quickly.
4) The Bucs running game wasn’t great, but it was effective enough in the early going to force the Saints to respect it and it allowed Fitz to attack the Saints secondary. Peyton Barber started hot before New Orleans knew the Bucs would be trying to bleed the clock and started keying the run.
5) Now there’s the defense. Yikes. Not good at all. I think I was most disappointed with the pass rush, who rarely got pressure on Brees, and he made them pay dearly. The Bucs defense struggled to contain all-world running back Alvin Kamara and for some inexplicable reason, kept getting caught in matchups where the LB’s were covering the Saints receivers. Still, say what you will about the horrible performance, they did get that scoop-and-score to help the Bucs really take control of the game and had that sequence in the third quarter that allowed the Bucs to balloon their edge to 24 points. It was certainly ugly and I’ll fully admit I had no faith in the defense stopping Brees and company if the Bucs had to give the football back to the Saints. Thankfully, the offense did what it needed to do to not put the defense in that situation.
6) Carlton Davis certainly had his Welcome to the NFL moments in this game. It was a rough start for the rookie, who got picked on by Brees in the first half. It’s okay kid, a lot of corners, even Pro Bowl ones, had these type of days against Drew Brees. Keep your head up, youngin. You’re going to be just fine. Considering the Bucs were without Brent Grimes and saw Vernon Hargreaves go out with an injury in the second half, it’s not surprising that Brees carved them up.
7) The Buccaneers matched their franchise record in points with their 48 point explosion in New Orleans. The last time the Bucs scored that many points was Super Bowl XXXVII. Unfortunately, Tampa Bay missed their chance to make history and break the 50-pt barrier when Chandler Catanzaro pushed a 44-yd FG attempt wide. It opened the door for the Saints to climb back into the game and made the final few minutes a little more chaotic than it needed to be.
8) Mike Evans was owned last season by Marcus Lattimore. Evans took it personally and made strides to improve his game. As Desean Jackson and Chris Godwin abused their Saints matchups, Evans finally got the better of Lattimore, finishing with a team-high 7 receptions, 147 yds, and a touchdown. Congrats, Mike. Hell of a game.
Bonus: It took exactly one half for the first “Should the Bucs even bring Jameis back?” question was uttered by the National Media. The same media who gave the Bucs no chance to win this game and just assumed the Bucs would begin the season 0-3. I prefer to look at it this way. Fitz is their back up. Imagine this offense when Jameis gets back. Who will stop it? Certainly not New Orleans.
DLT’s Emotional Game Tweet of the Week
— 👽JC De La Torre ☠️ (@jcdelatorre) September 9, 2018