The Know Your Enemy series will be weekly series breaking down who has the advantage at each position group in all the Saints matchups this season. In week two the 1-0 Saints have their home opener against divisional foe Bucs who are also 1-0. In part one, I compare the offensive positions groups to see who has the advantage on paper.
Note- this comparison is based on players who are likely available for the game. For example, Chris Godwin is going to be out for a few weeks, therefore he will not be included. Whereas Donavon Smith could play so I will include him.
Evaluating The Saints And Buccaneers Offenses Ahead Of Week Two
- Jameis Winston
- Andy Dalton
- Taysom Hill (emergency)
- Tom Brady
- Blaine Gabbert
- Kyle Trask
If Jameis Winston plays how he did in the fourth quarter of Sundays game against Atlanta. Then this argument is close, that’s how good Winston was in the final quarter, week one against Atlanta. Brady didn’t have his best game against the Cowboys, but he didn’t need to with the Bucs running game working so well.
Behind the two starters, I would take Andy Dalton over Blaine Gabbert and I would take Taysom Hill over Kyle Trask. So as a group I’d say the Saints are better.
But I can’t give the advantage here to the Bucs, despite Brady playing generally poorly against the Saints since joining the Bucs. He’s still the goat until he proves he’s not.
Running Back (RB)
- Alvin Kamara
- Mark Ingram
- Dwayne Washington
- Tony Jones JR
- Adam Prentice (Fullback)
- Leonard Fournette
- Rachaad White
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn
- Giovani Bernard
Based solely on week one, this would be a win for the Bucs. For me, that’s not a big enough sample size just yet.
New Orleans still has a deep more at the top end group. Alvin Kamara should start to get going, with the offense in more rhythm. However, this has not been a good matchup for AK In the past, and for the Saints backs it won’t be any easier this time, with Vita Vea and Akeim Hicks clogging up running lanes.
But this is in part an on-paper exercise, with what we know from game action so far mixed in. Therefore, The Saints’ top two are better, with suitable depth behind them. Lombardi Lenny has played the Saints well previously, but I don’t think that’s enough for the Bucs RB group.
Wide Receiver (WR)
- Michael Thomas
- Jarvis Landry
- Chris Olave
- Deonte Harty
- Marquez Callaway
- Tre’Quan Smith
- Mike Evans
- Chris Godwin- out for this game
- Russel Gage
- Julio Jones
- Scotty Miller
- Breshad Perriman
- Jaelon Darden
This position group is close. Top end players throughout both lists. Players who could easily be second or third receivers on other teams are fourth, fifth, and sixth options on both of these teams.
Chris Godwin being out for this game slants this in the Saints’ favor for me. I think the top four of Evans, Godwin, Julio Jones, and Gage are hard to beat. Take Godwin out and I think the Saints’ top three are just a bit better. Now if you get future Hall of Famer Julio Jones, I might be wrong here. But the Julio the Saints have seen in recent years isn’t that player.
I think the Saints come out just ahead with the bottom three too. Harty’s return ability adds to the value. With Callaway proving he can be a solid number two receiver if called upon. The same can’t be said for Miller, Perriman, and Darden.
A close call but I think Godwin not being available moves the needle over to New Orleans.
Tight End (TE)
- Adam Trautman
- Taysom Hill
- Juwan Johnson
- Nick Vannett
- Cameron Brate
- Kyle Rudolph
- Cade Otton
- Ko Kieft
Both teams chose to have three TEs active in week one. With veterans Nick Vannett and Kyle Rudolph being sacrificed on the gameday active roster.
Is this a sign of things to come for both teams? Or was this simply something matchup related? We shall see going forward.
Does WhoDatNation have a new starting TE to cheer for? Juwan Johnson out snapped Adam Trautman by 20 and played 75% of the team’s snaps. He showed why I thought he would be a breakout player this season (more on that here- Three Saints Players That Could Breakout In 2022 (whodathype.com) he blocked well, especially on the two big Taysom runs in the first quarter, see for yourself below, look for number 83 helping to clear the way.
Taysom Hill Gets the Saints First Touchdown of the Season! | NFL Week 1 2022 Season – YouTube
That gets us nicely onto Taysom Hill, who does count in this position group matchup, he is a weapon in all phases of the game, including special teams, it wasn’t held on the play, he would have blocked a punt against Atlanta.
The Bucs on the other hand, look fairly pedestrian at the position. Cameron Brate led the team with 42 snaps (67%) followed by rookie Cade Otton who played 30 snaps (48%) and finally, Ko Kieft played 16 snaps (25%). From those snaps, the Bucs got one catch on three targets for seven yards.
Now the team did run the ball well so I’m sure the TEs were product in that part of the game.
With Johnson’s emergence and Hill’s all-round playmaking ability, I think the Saints take this group.
Offensive Line (O-line)
- James Hurst
- Andrus Peat
- Erik McCoy
- Cesar Ruiz
- Ryan Ramczyk
- Landon Young
- Calvin Throckmorton
- Lewis Kidd
- Wyatt Davis
- Donavon Smith
- Luke Goedeke
- Robert Hainsey
- Shaq Mason
- Tristan Wirfs
- Josh Wells
- Nick Leverett
- Brandon Walton
- Fred Johnson
On paper, this is a win for the Saints, mainly due to the significant number of injuries the Bucs have sustained at this position through the offseason. Losing All-Pro player and nuisance Ryan Jensen for a large portion of the season and losing his believed replacement Aaron Stinnie as well.
But the Bucs line held up pretty well against the Cowboys, who have a more than solid front seven. They only gave up two sacks and rushed for 4.6 per carrying on 33 attempts. Brady will also get the ball out quickly which will help this unit.
Now, compare that to the Saints line. Who gave up four sacks, to a front that apart from Grady Jarrett don’t have too much to deal with. Watching the game though, it looked much worse. The line for three quarters was in disarray in pass protection especially when the Falcons blitzed.
Head Coach Dennis Allen pointed out in a press conference yesterday, that there is a lot that goes into pass protection, not just the offensive line. Alluding to the fact that the issues in this game could have been some coaching errors as much as it was bad plays. There were still plenty of plays that had nothing to do with coaching, Cesar Ruiz I’m looking at you.
Rod Walker on Twitter: “Dennis Allen points out that there are a lot of elements in pass protection. Not always just an offensive line issue.” / Twitter
So, for now, I will give the benefit of the doubt to the Saints’ O-line. Now another bad performance this week against a very good Bucs front seven especially on the interior of the defensive line. The narrative around this Saints line could start to change from, ‘they need to clean up a few things and they will be fine to ‘maybe this O-line could be a problem.
So, the Saints offense comes out on top seeming to be better at four of the five offensive position groups. That doesn’t mean I think their offense is miles better than the Bucs. The Bucs just have Tom Brady and that is the biggest wildcard for this game. Do we see the Brady that dominates the NFL? Or do we see the Brady that’s struggled against New Olreans in all of their matchups since he’s arrived in Tampa?
This is part one, later in the week, I will do the same exercise with the defense. So, keep your eyes peeled on Who Dat Hype – Unapologetically Fearless Saints Coverage and my Twitter @SaintsReportUK for part two.
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