Saints Offense vs Bucs Defense
With both Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders being out, the Saints have relied on Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris and Austin Carr to be their main receivers; even Marquez Callaway missed last week’s game against the Bears.
As a result, the passing game has been fixated on two players: running back Alvin Kamara and tight end Jared Cook. Nearly half of the team’s receptions came from those two players, and right now, Kamara is on pace to break the running back receptions record.
At the same time, relying on a running back and tight end isn’t a very stable way for offensive production. In the end, you have to be able to attack the perimeter, and having Thomas and Sanders back will make a significant difference.
Regardless, those two players played in Week 1 against Tampa Bay, and they combined for six catches and 34 yards. That speaks to the overall talent of the Bucs defensively.
This season, Tampa Bay ranks 2nd in yards/play allowed and 6th in yards/pass attempt. In Week 1, they held Brees to 6.4 yards/pass attempt and a 96.5 passer rating, which are far from the standard for the veteran quarterback.
In the past two weeks, head coach Sean Payton has adopted a much more pass-heavy approach. That’ll have to continue to be the case against the Bucs. They held New Orleans to 2.4 yards/carry in their first meeting and currently have the league’s best-run defense.
In other words, should Payton try to establish a ball-control offense, the Saints will fail miserably. Rather, they need to get Thomas and Sanders involved in this game early, in addition to Cook (5 REC, 80 YDs); they have to trust that good offense beats a good defense, rather than overthinking it.