Keys to the Game: Saints vs. Buccaneers

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Offense

Sep 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram (22) carries the ball up the sidelines against Atlanta Falcons free safety Thomas DeCoud (28) during the second quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets runners (aside from Geno Smith) were able to manage just 44 yards on 22 carries last week. Now, before you blast me, Chris Ivory/Bilial Powell are not Mark Ingram/Pierre Thomas/Darren Sproles. However, the front 7 of the Bucs is very talented, and since this still remains an evenly spread rushing attack, I don’t look for a ton out of any one runner individually. I do believe this ‘hydra’ will find success, and the Saints will not stray from at least running the ball, last time these two met, the Saints ran it 25 times for 149 yards (Ingram actually went 14-90).

It sure was great to see the Payton/Brees combo reunite. It’s still crazy to think that we only put four receivers on the field last week, and Nick Toon wasn’t even targeted on any of his 14 offensive plays. I bring this up, because it speaks to the versatility of this offense. Drew spread the ball around fairly evenly, but Sproles & Graham proved to be his most targeted. I love the fact that Drew targeted rookie Kenny Stills five times.

Last week, the offensive play selection was extremely balanced. Against the Falcons, the Saints passed it 35 times, and ran it 29 times. Look for a similar attack Sunday, and I look forward to seeing how much Brees throws against ‘Revis Island’. The Saints will need to keep up pocket protection for Drew Brees, and I look for guys like Nick Toon & Ben Watson to be heavier in the mix this week, as the Bucs will look to shutdown Graham & Colston. However, when that doesn’t work, it’ll likely end up in Sproles or PT’s hands. Brees may not get all of his work done in the first half again, but he should have another very strong outing.

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