Nonetheless, too early to gush over the Bucs and absorb the drama they’ve created for themselves over the subsequent two video games and, extra vital, the sport after that?
Under no circumstances.
It’s onerous to even say no one noticed it coming, as a result of clearly Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter spent coaching camp and the preseason pumping up Ryan Fitzpatrick, the very definition of an NFL journeyman quarterback, for his stint changing Jameis Winston throughout the starter’s three-game suspension. He made it clear Winston wasn’t assured to mechanically get his job again when he returned. It was as a lot about how comfy he was with Fitzpatrick and, in fact “Fitzmagic.”
Fitz introduced the Magic to the opener. He obtained right into a shootout with New Orleans’ Drew Brees within the Superdome, and gained. A person who has gone on some epic interception runs throughout his profession on quite a few groups threw none Sunday. He went for 417 yards and 4 touchdowns on 21-of-28 passing. Within the 9 Bucs possessions excluding the tip of halves, they scored seven occasions, missed one subject aim late within the recreation and punted simply as soon as.
The Saints could not cease them, and contemplating the back-and-forth nature of the primary half and the late cost to make the sport shut, they wanted to cease them.
“It is enjoyable to be on the market pondering you are gonna rating on each possession,” Fitzpatrick mentioned. “And it had nothing to do with who we had been going in opposition to, it was simply the boldness we had going into the sport.”
Pretty much as good as Winston typically has been, the sense that the Bucs might rating at will has not been a relentless presence. It’s delusional now to suppose Fitzpatrick hasn’t earned much more of Koetter’s belief now, even when he falls on his face the subsequent two weeks.
Fitzpatrick’s main targets had been those the Bucs introduced collectively to be Winston’s targets: DeSean Jackson, Mike Evans and O.J. Howard. Between them, they’d 347 yards in receptions, with Jackson catching two lengthy landing passes and Evans one.
“They feed off it,” Fitzpatrick mentioned. “All people feeds off the vitality. I believed you can see that as we speak. It was contagious on the market.”
Protecting it contagious gained’t be simple subsequent week, when the Bucs play at residence in opposition to the Eagles.
Then once more, it wasn’t speculated to be this simple this week.
For the Saints, tightening up the protection — or not less than eliminating the form of errors that canceled their journey to the NFC title recreation final 12 months — was a serious offseason aim. They flopped. The offense did its half, apart from the Mike Gillislee fumble that was returned for a landing and dug New Orleans a good deeper gap. However the gallant comebacks from Brees had been speculated to be diminished to a minimal.
For Saints coach Sean Payton, it recalled an much more painful time than final January’s loss in Minnesota, and for good purpose: “That’s not the kind of recreation that fits us, and that’s the kind of recreation we performed in years previous, after we’ve been a .500 workforce.”
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In the long term, it seemingly gained’t imply something to the NFC South race — the Bucs should show much more than this, and the Saints are nonetheless a strong Tremendous Bowl favourite regardless. Payton has time to repair this.
The Bucs are those on the clock. Two extra video games even intently resembling this one, and Winston walks instantly again right into a cleaning soap opera.