Sep 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints strong safety Roman Harper (41) tackles Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) during the second half of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Saints defeated the Falcons 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s see, last week, an injury depleted defense full of younger talent held Atlanta to just 17 points, didn’t allow a 300 yard passer, a 100 yard rusher, or a 100 yard receiver. Pretty impressive indeed.
The Bucs offense does have a good bit of weaponry to assault the Saints defense with (Freeman-Martin-Jackson-Williams). Over the past two games, Josh Freeman has dropped back to throw 89 passes against the Saints (as opposed to only 40 rushes). Against the Jets, they took a more balanced approach, running 59 total plays (31 passes, 25 rush), but Doug Martin wasn’t able to get things going on the ground.
For my key here, the coaching adjustments that Rob Ryan makes throughout the course of the game is the biggest thing to look for, and the Saints being able to get off the field on 3rd downs like they did against Atlanta (3/11 – 27%). Something else to keep an eye out for is if Carl Nicks is able to play. We also just learned today that Jay Richardson was re-signed to the team, and I’d love to know or speculate where he lines up for Sunday, but he’s one to keep an eye out for (and everyone has to be seriously saddened that Andy Tanner was released). After his first game, teams will have to start accounting for where Kenny Vaccaro is on the field, and I would expect nothing less than to hearing his name several times during the game.