2020 Week 1 Analysis Buccaneers at Saints (By Ross Jacobs)
-The media narrative after this game is that the Bucs played a sloppy game and got thumped by the Saints. There is a grain of truth to that, but I saw something different, and I have some suggestions I recommend readers take.
-What I saw this game was two very good football teams slugging it out. This looks to me like the Bucs and Saints will be fighting for the division crown all the way to the end. I think both teams are capable of winning 12 games, and it would not shock me if the Bucs were the better team by the end of the season.
-It's fair to say Tampa Bay played a “sloppy” game, but that shouldn't be surprising considering Tom Brady is trying to mesh with an entirely new offense and personnel group.
-The other part of that so-called sloppiness was an very underrated Saints defense. I think much of the media stills thinks of the Saints from 4-5 years ago that were all offense and no defense, but that's no longer the case. This is a strong group that doesn't have any obvious weaknesses. Cam Jordan is one of the best all-around defensive linemen in the league every year, and Marshon Lattimore is one of the top 3 or 4 cornerbacks. He seems to have Mike Evans's number too. This is the third time the last year or two that Lattimore has almost completely shut Evans down. Trey Hendrickson flashed some pass rush ability here. He whipped Bucs left tackle Donovan Smith a couple of times. If the Saints defense is available in your league I would suggest picking them up. Unless of course the Buccaneers defense is available.
-I know the Saints put up 34 points, but 14 of those points came off of turnovers, and holding the Saints to 20 points is quite an accomplishment. If the Bucs are available in your fantasy league go get them right now. That was the most high energy, hardest hitting group I've seen so far. Wow, were they impressive! We knew the Bucs run defense was excellent last year, but the secondary really seems improved too. Brees was having difficulty finding anyone open including the great Michael Thomas. Thomas could barely get away from Carlton Davis. The entire defense was flying around, playing physical ball. Brees is usually very hard to pressure because he gets rid of the ball so fast, but the Bucs got after him very well. Trust me, get in on this defense while you can.
-Brady and the offense sailed down the field on their first drive, and I thought they looked very impressive. Of course it became more of a struggle shortly after, but despite the big hole they really fought back pretty well and nearly made it a game towards the end. I credit the Saints defense for much of that, and I do think Brady will clean up the communication issues with his receivers. This unit looks like it could be a very good group soon.
-Ronald Jones got the start and the bulk of the carries for the Bucs, but new acquisition Leonard Fournette appeared to be the vastly superior back. It's likely just a matter of time until the starting job is his.
-Lattimore gave Evans fits as usual but I think Evans is the Bucs receiver to own. Scotty Miller is Brady's discount Edelman and will likely be a very solid ppr WR. He's going to get 4-5 catches and 50 or so yards a game. Chris Godwin is going to play the possession receiver role like Chris Hogan did for Brady in New England. Looks like he could be a big fantasy bust this year.
-Gronk only got a couple of targets but looked slow to my eyes. O.J. Howard is the better TE now, and I think Brady knows it as evidenced by their target numbers. Not sure Howard will get enough targets to be a top 5 TE in this offense, but we'll see
-Don't worry about Michael Thomas. He'll get his numbers against lesser defenses.
-Lucky for Kamara he got 2 TD's because his day was rather poor otherwise. Like everyone else on the Saints he wasn't finding any open space to work with. His numbers should tick up. If Kamara ever gets hurt Latavius Murray is a RB1. He's the superior runner between the tackles and still has excellent hands for the passing game when called upon.
-Jared Cook was a safety blanket for Brees here and got open better than anyone else on the Saints. He's a top 10 TE for sure.