Saints vs. Buccaneers: Week 2 impact players to help ‘right the ship’


Sunday marks the 47th time in history that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints clash. The Saints lead the series 29-17, and have won seven straight contests against the Buccaneers, including four straight at home. Needless to say, this looks to be a classic trap game for the black and gold.

It’s been a long time since the Saints have won a home game. An impressive Week 8 Sunday Night Football win over the Green Bay Packers seems so long ago. As the team looks to avoid the dreaded 0-2 start, there are several players who will need to play a level up during Sunday’s game with Lovie Smith’s squad to bring a victory home for the home team.

Cam Jordan

Cam Jordan had a very strong showing against the Arizona Cardinals, but just couldn’t seem to wrap up Carson Palmer. This is the week where you can’t afford to let Jameis Winston break out. The Saints defensive line has to put pressure on the rookie quarterback, and Jordan will be the most important part of getting after Winston. Let’s not be confused, Jordan’s $60 million contract doesn’t pay him to make almost sacks. This team needs Jordan to return to his 2013 Pro Bowl form, and it has to start Sunday.

Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan, like several Saints players, have been on a ‘come and go’ basis on the 53-man roster. After the Saints struggled heavily with the four wide receivers they entered the Cardinals game with, they obviously felt it necessary to bring back Morgan as their fifth receiver. He’ll be inserted into the lineup immediately, as per head coach Sean Payton, and hopes to rekindle some of that old form he used to have. I don’t believe that Morgan is just a one-dimensional deep threat like was in 2012, and all you need to be sold on that is review the game against the Baltimore Ravens from last season. Morgan should see plenty of action, but I believe his presence helps the Saints offense tremendously by stretching the field.

Kenny Phillips

Kenny Phillips will be playing in his first NFL game since 2012, and he’ll be the starting free safety when the team suits up. Phillips, who saw extensive action in the preseason, has a glorious opportunity to reinvigorate his career. Phillips has abilities as both a ‘thumper’ and ‘ballhawk’, so it’ll be interesting to see how he’ll fare in full speed action. The Bucs have big receiving threats with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Mike Evans, and Vincent Jackson. Where Phillips ultimately helps over the top will be what to watch for.

Max Unger

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints center Max Unger (60) walks alongside running back Mark Ingram (22) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This is where you see the true impact of what Jimmy Graham was traded for. The Saints interior line suffered last year at the center position, and it showed. The offense had difficulty controlling the likes of Haloti Ngata, Ndamukong Suh, and a guy they’ll see a lot of on Sunday, Gerald McCoy. In last year’s home game, McCoy was a giant nuisance (actually thorn) for the offensive line. He finished with a +8.9 grade on 84 snaps, tallying 4 hits and 5 hurries on quarterback Drew Brees. Max Unger will be tested, and how he responds against McCoy will be what to watch for. Why? It gives pocket protection for Brees, which means he can go through his progressions. Time is something Brees could have used more of last season.

Damian Swann

Damian Swann was picked on extensively by Carson Palmer, but actually had some impressive moments during his rookie debut. Swann, like the vast majority of the Saints youthful roster, will need time to grow and develop. Without the likes of Keenan Lewis for this game, Swann will find himself handling secondary duties with Delvin Breaux and Brandon Browner again. I’m interested to see how Rob Ryan and Dennis Allen position Swann, who’s 5-foot-11, against the taller Bucs receivers.

Josh Hill

Josh Hill only participated in 18 snaps last week, while Ben Watson churned in 68 on offense. Hill has somewhat become the forgotten man after being tabbed and praised as the primary beneficiary from Jimmy Graham’s departure. So far, everyone has been sadly mistaken. I’m not suggesting that Josh Hill is your red zone solution for the Saints offense, but last year saw Hill finish with five touchdowns last year. Of those scores, four were in the red zone. Granted, using two tight end sets could help the Saints, as Graham likely ran as a decoy in some scenarios.

Who do you see as an unsung hero that will help the Saints power their way to a Superdome victory on Sunday?