ReFo: Buccaneers @ Saints, Week 5
Starting the season 1-4 doesn’t preclude making the playoffs, but only 5 teams have made the playoffs in their current format after such a start. With the Saints and Buccaneers both at 1-3 heading into this one, it was about as must win as it gets for two teams with playoff aspirations. In the end it was the heavily favored Saints that came out on top in overtime 37-31, but regulation ended with both teams kicking themselves for wasting golden opportunities to put the game away.
Drew Brees started off the mishaps by running into the back of left tackle Terron Armstead before flailing a ball into Danny Lansanah’s hands for a pick-six. The Bucs would counter with one of the worst drives in NFL history. After a touchback Tampa Bay managed to lose 20 yards by executing the following sequence: holding, fumbled snap, delay of game, false start, run for no gain, sack for a safety.
The Saints would blow one final chance when Marques Colston couldn’t hold onto an easy catch with 35 seconds left in Bucs territory after contact from Major Wright. In the end though, the Buccaneers futility against the run proved to be their Achilles heel. The Saints marched down the field on the lone overtime possession and kept their playoff hopes alive.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Performances of Note
Gerald McCoy, DT: +8.4
Breakdown: Going through the analysis of the game it felt like the Buccaneers were consistently getting pressure on Brees when he was forced to move to his second and third reads. It wasn’t until after the game that it hit me that it wasn’t the Bucs getting consistent pressure, it was Gerald McCoy. Clinton McDonald’s +1.0 was the only other positive pass rushing grade on the entire Tampa Bay defense. McCoy totaled three hits and seven hurries in 57 pass rushes with Brees averaging a swift 2.47 seconds per attempt. It was a truly dominant pass rushing display.
Signature Play: McCoy’s +16.9 pass rushing grade this season is over twice as high as the second best grade for a defensive tackle.
Michael Johnson, DE: -7.0
Breakdown: This is the exact opposite of what the Buccaneers had in mind when they signed Johnson over the summer. The hard edge that Johnson routinely set in Cincinnati looked more like tissue paper on Sunday in New Orleans. The Saints tight ends had their way with the defensive end all day long on runs designed to get to the boundary. Johnson didn’t make a single tackle, but instead missed three.
Signature Play: At 11:28 in the overtime period, Johnson appeared to quit on the play after Josh Hill got a solid initial punch on a pin-and-pull play.
Vincent Jackson, WR: +3.5
Breakdown: There’s the Vincent Jackson we’ve come to know and love. After five drops in his first four games, Jackson hauled in all eight catchable targets Sunday and broke a career high four tackles. It’s clear that when things break down, Mike Glennon likes to give Jackson a chance to make a play and Jackson rewarded that faith against the Saints.
Signature Play: On the first play of the fourth quarter, Jackson saw his quarterback scrambling to his left and in trouble. The wide out turned tail and ran straight down the middle of the field and Glennon hit him over the outstretched arms of Rafael Bush for a 34 yard gain.
New Orleans Saints – Performances of Note
Patrick Robinson, CB: +2.9
Breakdown: After losing his starting job to Corey White (-3.5), Patrick Robinson spent Sunday manning the slot for the first time in his entire career. The former first round pick looked like a natural in his 26 snaps allowing a single catch for nine yards on three targets with an interception and a pass breakup. Robinson certainly played well enough to retake his old spot, but with the results he produced it might be wise to continue to get him snaps in the slot.
Signature Play: With 8:47 left in the second quarter Robinson was matched up with Louis Murphy in man coverage. The Saints brought a six-man rush leaving Robinson on an island against Murphy running a go route. Robinson turned and located the ball perfectly, leveraging Murphy against the sideline and making a diving catch for an interception.
Jahri Evans, RG: -6.0
Breakdown: The complement to McCoy’s monster day is unfortunately the former all-pro right guard. Evans was powerless against the defensive tackle’s array of pass rushing moves. Of Evans seven pressures allowed, two came within two seconds of the snap. You can’t chalk it all up to McCoy, though. Evans worst pass blocking attempt came on Clinton McDonald with 10:19 left in the fourth quarter when a simple swim move put McDonald into Drew Brees’ lap.
Signature Stat: Evans now has the third worst pass blocking efficiency of all guards.
Pierre Thomas, RB: +3.9
Breakdown: Routinely underrated because of his lack of fantasy production, Thomas showed us Sunday what a quality tailback looks like. He caught all eight targets for 77 yards and broke four tackles on four carries for 35 more yards on the ground. His performance is all the more impressive when you consider he played just one third of the Saints 93 offensive snaps in the game.
Signature Stat: Thomas averaged 4.25 yards after contact and broke six tackles for an elusive rating of 212.5.
PFF Game Ball
It was a nearly flawless day for game ball recipient Pierre Thomas who had his highest grade since Week 2 of the 2012 season.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner