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Week 1 Game Recap: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, New Orleans Saints 40


What you need to know

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Rookie RB Ronald Jones was inactive for week 1. Justin Evans returned a Mike Gillislee fumble 34 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Desean Jackson left late in the game with a concussion, and has entered the leagues concussion protocol. Tampa Bay scored on 6 of their first 7 possessions. Kicker Catanzaro was 6 for 6 on extra points, and 2 of 3 on field goal attempts.

New Orleans Saints

This was supposed to be an easy win for the Saints. A kickoff game against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers who were starting a washed-up backup quarterback against a high-powered offense and stingy defense looking to avenge their playoff loss to the Vikings. However, the game did not go as planned and despite Drew Brees looking like an early MVP candidate, the Saints were taken to the woodshed and gave up the most points of the weekend. Tampa Bay hung 48 points and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns against a defense that ranked near the top in almost every category last season. Alvin Kamara could not find any success on the ground despite a few goal line carries and Drew Brees had to air out the ball all game while playing catch up. The defense had no answer for Fitzpatrick and was burned by big play after big play. The Saints will look to rebound next weekend against the Browns at home.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, 66 offensive snaps, Pass: 21 - 28 - 417 - 4 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 12 - 36 - 1
Fitzpatrick lit the Saints defense up on their own turf, out dueling Drew Brees as the Tampa Bay receiving game showed off its many weapons. Fitzpatrick was extremely efficient with his top receivers, as Evans(7 of 7) and Jackson(5 of 5) both converted all of their targets into catches, including several long touchdowns. Fitzpatrick's deep ball was incredibly accurate throughout the contest, and he did a great job of moving around with his feet to buy time in the pocket and even scramble for positive yardage on several occasions. He scored on his second pass attempt of the game, finding Desean Jackson down the right side of the field from a shotgun formation. On Tampa Bay's next drive, Fitzpatrick set the offense up in the New Orleans red zone with dime passes to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. After driving down inside the five yard line, Fitzy faked a handoff from a goal line set and rolled right, lowering his shoulder and powering through a tackle attempt for a touchdown. Fitzpatrick found Chris Godwin while scrambling right late in the second quarter for his third touchdown of the day. The receiver fought through press coverage and secured a perfect back shoulder pass from Fitzpatrick. The fireworks continued later in the third quarter, as Fitzpatrick found Evans deep down the right side of the field, burning his only defender for an easy 50 yard score. Fitzpatrick hooked up with Desean Jackson again for a 36 yard touchdown early on in the 4th, laying up a beautiful ball on a deep post. The Tampa Bay offense looks to be in capable hands until Winston's return from suspension.

RB Peyton Barber, 48 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 69 - 0
Barber had a solid but unspectacular game as Ryan Fitzpatrick and the receiving core lit it up. Barber drew the start, breaking his longest run off left tackle for a 23 yard gain in the first quarter. The Bucs kept running just enough to make the play action effective. Barber had a goal line touchdown vultured by Fitzpatrick in the 1st, as the QB faked a handoff and a rolled out on a bootleg, punching the ball in himself. Barber got a couple more carries inside the five yard line later in the third quarter, but was unable to find the end zone. The Bucs used Barber to grind clock in the 4th quarter as they held off Drew Brees and the Saints offense. Barber wasn't target in the passing game, but backup Jacquizz Rodgers only logged 3 touches to Barber's 19.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers, 15 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - 1 - 0, Rec: 1 - 2 - 0 (1 targets)
Rodgers mixed in to relieve Peyton Barber occasionally. He saw his first action at the end of the second quarter, catching a short screen pass for a minimal gain on his first snap. Rodgers finished with 3 touches to Barber's 19.

RB Shaun Wilson, 2 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 6 - 0
Wilson played special teams and logged one carry late in the game for a six yard gain.

WR Mike Evans, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 147 - 1 (7 targets)
Evans had a monster day as Fitzpatrick tossed dimes all over the field . Despite drawing the coverage of Marshon Lattimore, who gave him fits in both matchups last season, Evans converted all seven of his targets into receptions. He hauled in a back shoulder throw from Fitzpatrick down the right sideline late in the first quarter for a big gain on his first target. Fitzpatrick found Evans on a deep post route in the third quarter for a big gain that set the Bucs up inside the New Orleans five yard line. Evans left the game briefly in the 3rd quarter, but returned to score a 50 yard touchdown, lining up wide right as the only receiver his side of the formation and burning Lattimore with ease. Evans escaped the game unharmed and could absorb some more targets if Jackson misses time.

WR DeSean Jackson, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 146 - 2 (5 targets)
Jackson had a big day that started early. He hauled in Fitzpatrick's first pass attempt for a short gain on an out route, then scored two plays later. For his first touchdown, Jackson lined up just off the offensive line, then took off on a fly route down the right side of the field. His defender totally lost him, and Fitzpatrick laid the ball up for an easy score. Jackson flexed a couple of yards off the line of scrimmage and burned his defender right down the middle of the field for a 36 yard touchdown early in the 4th quarter on another dime pass from Fitzpatrick. The two hooked up on another deep ball down the right sideline on the Bucs' next drive, with Jackson going down after the catch. He left the game and was later diagnosed with a concussion. Jackson was a perfect five of five on his targets before leaving the game.

WR Chris Godwin, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 41 - 1 (4 targets)
Godwin worked in the third receiver spot with Humphries, depending on the offensive personnel grouping. He started his day with a beautiful diving catch up the right seam near the end of the first quarter. Fitzpatrick found him again on a skinny post early in the 2nd. Godwin fumbled at the end of the catch and run but was able to recover the ball. Godwin made a strongly contested catch just over the front pylon of the end zone late in the second quarter for the Bucs' third touchdown of the game. He split out wide right of the formation, putting a double move on his defender before hauling in the score. Despite the hot start, Godwin was only targeted once in the second half. He could see more targets next week if Jackson misses time with his concussion.

WR Adam Humphries, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 27 - 0 (5 targets)
Humphries played his usual role as slot man in multiple WR formations. He was quiet in the first half but contributed a few catches in the second half. Humphries did have a huge gain on a screen pass that was called back at the end of the first half for a holding penalty. He had his biggest gain on a nice catch-and-run in the third quarter that netted 20 yards. Humphries may see some extra targets next week if Desean Jackson misses time with a concussion.

TE O.J. Howard, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 54 - 0 (2 targets)
Howard's targets were limited as receivers Jackson and Evans drew most of the looks from Fitzpatrick. Howard had a big 35 yard pickup early in the second quarter, outrunning his defender down the right sideline after high pointing a Fitzpatrick pass over two defensive backs. Howard split off wide right of the formation on the next offensive drive and made a leaping catch over is defender for another big gain. Howard was only targeted the two times, but had nearly twice as many offensive snaps as fellow TE Cameron Brate.

TE Cameron Brate, 24 offensive snaps (2 targets)
Brate wasn't used much in the passing game as Fitzpatrick was dialed in with receivers Evans and Jackson. Brate nearly made an amazing high-point catch near the end zone in the second quarter, but he was forced out of bounds by a defender. It was his only target of the day. OJ Howard had nearly twice as many snaps as Brate.


New Orleans Saints

QB Drew Brees, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 37 - 45 - 439 - 3 TD / 0 INT
After playing second fiddle to the run game last season, it was the Drew Brees show this week as the Saints were playing catchup all game. Brees was attempting to match Ryan Fitzpatrick who was torching his own defense and found a rhythm with top receiver Michael Thomas. Brees surpassed 400 yards passing, did not throw an interception, but could not muster one final touchdown drive to try and tie the game. 25 completions and almost 300 of his yards came in the form of 29 passes to Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The run game was all but abandoned due to an early deficit and Brees went about extracting large chunks of yards with every pass. Brees first touchdown came on a beautifully thrown ball to Ted Ginn Jr. Brees laid the ball deep down the right sideline for a 28-yard touchdown. Ginn simply ran past his man for an easy touchdown. The second touchdown was a 6-yard slant to Michael Thomas into the end zone. Brees put the ball right on the numbers for another easy touchdown. His third and final touchdown came on a short swing pass to Alvin Kamara who sprinted into the end zone for another easy score. Brees also added 2 two-point conversions to try and even the score. Brees may have had his best game in the past two seasons, but he was outdueled by Ryan Fitzpatrick and got no help from his own defense. Brees will look to get back on track against a Brown's defense that created 6 turnovers against Pittsburgh.

RB Alvin Kamara, 52 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 29 - 2, Rec: 9 - 112 - 1 (12 targets)
It is hard to get anything going on the ground when your team is down, and the opposition seems to be able to score at will. Kamara was able to cash in on some easy goal line touchdowns as well as one through the air within 10 yards. The vaunted rush attack that kept teams at bay last season was never able to get going as they collectively rushed the ball 13 times for 43 total yards. Kamara found success rushing the ball off the ends for 5 and 1-yard touchdowns and a two-point conversion right up the middle. Kamara also made his presence felt in the passing game catching 9 of 12 targets for over 100 yards. He also took a quick swing pass into the end zone, again striking from the outside. The Saints will need to do a better job establishing the run next week against the Browns to have a more balanced offense. Kamara will continue to see the bulk of the work while Ingram is serving his suspension and while Gillislee is recovering from his disastrous fumble today.

RB Mike Gillislee, 7 offensive snaps, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0
This is a game that Gillislee will soon want to forget. The backup running back fumbled one of his three carries and the ball was picked up and returned for a touchdown by Tampa. Thankfully the Saints had abandoned the run and he did not get a chance to touch the ball again. Gillislee is a temporary backup while Mark Ingram is serving his suspension.

WR Michael Thomas, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 16 - 180 - 1 (17 targets)
This is the kind of game that fantasy owners dream about for Michael Thomas. Not only did he finally get over his end zone allergy, but he also hauled in 16 of his 17 targets for almost 200 yards. He did cough up the football once, but he made up for it with sheer volume. There seemed to be no one that could cover Thomas today. Tampa tried zone coverage, one on one with their best corner, and even put a safety over top to help and he just could not be stopped. Brees and Thomas found a weakness in the defense just behind the corner and in front of the safety and were able to exploit it all day. Whenever Tampa seemed to key in on it, they would simply move Thomas to the other side or run a route to the inside to keep the defense honest. His touchdown came on an easy 6-yard quick slant where he was not even touched going into the end zone. The rest of his yards came in 10-15-yard chunks aside from one 35-yard reception where he broke free down the side line. Thomas had a hard time finding the end zone last season, especially in goal to go situations. With the run game currently in flux, Thomas should see a lot more opportunity to catch the ball. This was a monster game for the top Saints' receiver and he has another great matchup next week against the Browns.

WR Ted Ginn, 50 offensive snaps, Rush: 1 - 5 - 0, Rec: 5 - 68 - 1 (6 targets)
The ball was flying all over the place this week and Ginn managed to cash in. It was Tampa Bay who had receivers haul in touchdowns of 50+ yards, but Ginn showed he has not lost a step when he ran past his man for an easy 28-yard touchdown. On the first play of the second quarter, Ginn simply ran past his man and Brees laid a beautiful ball right into the bread basket for an easy touchdown. Ginn caught 5 of his 6 targets but was competing with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara who accounted for 2/3 of all completions and most of the yards. Ginn is a threat over the top on every single play and it was a little surprising they did not take more shots down the field with him, especially when they were trailing late in the game.

TE Ben Watson, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 44 - 0 (4 targets)
The ball was flying all over the place today, but Watson did not play a major role in that. He was targeted 4 times and hauled in every ball that came his way. He was limited to under 50-yards and almost half of his total came on a single play. Brees launched a pass 19 yards down the sideline and Watson came down with it falling forward for another 2 yards. Watson did not play a major role in the red zone and Thomas and Kamara took most of that work. Brees has historically done well with very athletic tight ends but it may take some more time to build chemistry and get Watson going.