Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Saints

January 18th, 2021

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Youth wasn’t just served Sunday evening — youth ruled.

Everywhere you looked, a recent Buc draft pick was making a critical second-half play as the Bucs emerged as the only road team to win in the divisional round.

Tip your hat to Antoine Winfield and Tyler Johnson for key contributions as Tampa Bay reeled off the game’s final 17 points. Not too shabby for the 2020 draft class.

And who can forget about the No. 5 pick of the 2019 draft? From start to finish, Devin White ruled as the best player on the field, making the Saints pay dearly for his perceived Pro Bowl snub.

If this indeed marked a teary farewell for Drew Brees, it was an ugly sendoff. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer for sure, but on this night, Brees looked like a poor man’s Mike Glennon.

Sean Payton would have been better off starting Jameis Winston because Brees was no match for the aggressive scheme Todd Bowles implemented.

“Coach Bowles said we were gonna be feisty,” White said, and feisty the Bucs certainly were, forcing turnovers while forcing Brees to throw into windows that looked more like portholes.

If this game doesn’t help Bowles land another head coaching job, nothing will.

The Bucs will take a 6-game winning streak into Green Bay and it’s no coincidence that Tom Brady has thrown only one pick in that span – an interception that wasn’t even his fault. As Brady said after the game, when you finish plus-4 in the turnover differential, you’re not going to lose many matchups.

The Bucs capitalized on the takeaways and the advantage in field position to end a 5-game losing streak against their division rivals. With Brady expected to return in 2021 and the Saints likely to feature a new starter under center, Tampa Bay should be favored to end a 4-year reign atop the NFC South by New Orleans.

Here’s how the Bucs strode into the Big Easy and made things so hard for the home team:

* Given the circumstances and the quality of the opponent, this was the best game by a Tampa Bay secondary since the Super Bowl victory 18 years ago. Led by Carlton Davis who had a magical night in making Michael Thomas disappear, virtually every pass was contested except for the 56-yard gimmick throw by Winston. When the defensive backs weren’t making Brees miserable, Lavonte David and White were draping themselves over tight ends and running backs. Brees finished with a passer rating of 38.1, which hopefully will be the game-time temperature at Lambeau Field.

* Winfield, the precocious second-round pick out of Minnesota, may have provided the game’s signature play late in the third quarter.  Ahead 20-13, New Orleans was facing 3rd-and-2 from the Saints 45 with all the momentum. The Bucs sideline had no energy as Brees completed an 8-yard pass to Jared Cook, but Winfield punched the ball loose and White recovered, leading to a tying score.

* It’s easy to forget about Johnson’s remarkable reception early in the fourth quarter, but you shouldn’t. It was huge. Brady was looking at 3rd-and-11 from his own 20 when he floated a ball to his right. A well-covered Johnson made a lunging sideline catch that would have made Cris Carter proud. That dazzling grab led to a go-ahead FG.

* Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones combined for 125 yards on 30 carries against a very stingy rushing defense. That production made Brady’s play-action fakes more effective and kept Tampa Bay ahead of the chains as the Bucs converted 8-of-17 on third down.

* The offensive line in general, and Donovan Smith in particular, enjoyed another solid effort. Smith has been eager to atone for that rough outing against Trey Hendrickson in Week 9. Revenge was sweet as Hendrickson failed to make the post-game stat sheet. On the other side, Tristan Wirfs manhandled Cameron Jordan … again.

* White registered 10 solo tackles besides the fumble recovery and a late interception that sealed the deal. He’s confident, perhaps even cocky, but Buc fans don’t care as long as he backs it up. At the moment, his game is speaking more loudly than his mouth.

* Tampa Bay improved to 8-2 on the road, a testament to this team’s mental toughness. The Bucs never lost their poise Sunday, even after a long punt return provided the Saints with some early juice. Five of the 20 first downs registered by New Orleans came courtesy of Tampa Bay penalties, but overall the Bucs played with better discipline. Holding the Saints to a field goal on their first possession generate a positive vibe.

* Can’t say enough about how Bowles empowered his defense with a game plan shaped to this particular matchup. He ordered tight man coverage, figuring Brees lacked the arm to beat Tampa Bay deep. No more passive zone defense, hoping to keep everything in front of you. Admittedly, soon to be league MVP Aaron Rodgers is a different animal, but for one night, this young secondary was a sight to behold.

* Brady didn’t have to be great, and he wasn’t. Still, he didn’t give New Orleans any short fields with giveaways. He protected the football, as he does so magnificently, and as a result, the Bucs enjoyed an average drive start at their own 41, compared to an average New Orleans drive start at the Saints 28. In a game this tight, field position mattered.

* Does anyone really believe inclement weather at Lambeau might be an issue for Brady, who played two decades in Foxborough? The Bucs made the Packers look really bad three months ago, to the point where Aaron Rodgers appeared to quit. Brady might not quit until he’s 50. The Bucs are now one win away from making Super Bowl history. They’ve got a youngry defense and they’ve got No. 12.

Live underdog? Heck yeah.

It’s Ira! Stop in and ask for Ira’s good friend Sean Sullivan, the Bill Currie Ford general manager, for a JoeBucsFan discount. He will help you personally in person or by phone and email

36 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Saints”

  1. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Sorry I drank too much today to numb the potential loss, we won!, to read this. Go Bucs! The defense surprised me! The offense missed on some plays. Go Bucs! Go crown royal!

    I’m calling into sick tomorrow haha

  2. NotTampaTom Says:

    Reall happy for Winfield Jr, D White, and SMB. Their futures are so bright, they need sunglasses

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Holding the Saints to 6 points early was a huge key to victory…

    That and the “possessed” Devin White…….Green Bay hopes he has an exorcism before he steps on the field against them.

  4. SlyPirate Says:

    Let’s give a shout out to the often-overlooked guys that came up big:

  5. firethecannons Says:

    The defense was awesome, like the Sage said, every pass was contested and our guys wreaked havoc on the saints. So awesome to see us win and see Saints lose–its like a twofer. Also see Brees lose with 3 picks to the Bucs on his last game–for a true Buc fan — it doesn’t get better than this.

  6. FortMyersDave Says:

    Nice article to end this evening on Ira! The Bucs could not script it better than tonight. The offense had some drops and they still put up 30 thanks to a few short fields because of the aggressive D. Feels a lot like closing out the Vet 18 years ago!

    BTW: Vegas giving the Bucs some love: opening lines are Green Bay -3.5 or -4.

  7. Bangkok Buc Says:

    Joes…..After Brady’s TD sneak late in the game, he tried to give a ref a “high 5” as he jogged by. Wonder of that was a little mock for some of those bogus calls during the game. Anyone else see that the way I did?

  8. Bucsd04 Says:

    Youngry……Raheem Morris gem.

  9. Rod Munch Says:

    With as fun as this was, it’s about 100x less exciting than beating the Eagles and shutting down that dump of a stadium in Philadelphia. I wish podcasts were a thing then since I’d have listened to those Philly trash crying after the game probably 1000x times. Watching home teams lose big games at home is so much fun – as long as it’s not Tampa.

  10. Coburn Says:

    One catch everyone is forgetting about was Miller time. That one was pretty big too

  11. BUC CHEEKS Says:

    Love this team!!!!!!!! LFG

  12. RussianCoverage Says:

    It’s yungry.

  13. 813bucboi Says:

    if this game doesn’t get BL an HC job, I don’t know what will…lol…and I’m happy…lol…


    great team win


  14. orlbucfan Says:

    LVD led the defense in his quiet way. Now, on to Lambeau, on the one perfect game the Bucs played.

  15. BradyBucs Says:


    BL is a terrible playcaller when it comes to common football statistics and probabilities. Calling two long passing plays on 3rd and short was DUMB. We were fortunate those bad calls didn’t keep us from winning. He did the same last week.

    We absolutely can’t give Rodgers the ball back on very makable 3rd downs. We have to keep possession and convert those 1st downs.

    So BL is not exactly working magic.

  16. Pete I Says:

    This slips into the #3 biggest Bucs win in History…at least for me. Behind the obvious Super Bowl win and Eagles NFC title game in Philly – the exercising of this demon was a big deal. And once again Jameis “Meaningless Stats” Winston lived up to his meaingless stat capability as 1-1-56-1-0 was a glittery and yet ultimately meaningless addition to the stat column.

  17. Bob in Valrico Says:

    Agree with Brady Buc, Can’t remember a time when A deep ball call has not
    resulted in a three and out on our first possession. Better odds on second and short and if you don’t make it you still have another down to get the first down.
    He should let Brady and and the team settle into offensive rhythm. BL needs
    to thank defense for giving offense so many short fields. Everybody loves what Gronk brings to the table, but in this game he did not show the speed or agility to get to some of Brady’s deep shots. Then again if Brady had had put a bit more air underneath his passes to Gronk and Godwin , there would have been better chances for TD’s ,IMO.

  18. Court XXXVII Says:

    BradyBucs, I agree: BL did not work magic. But TB x 2 (Brady plus Bowles) worked magic, and that was a beautiful thing — Brady as our field general and master elevator of expectations (and of careful passing); and Bowles as our (honestly) unexpected play-planner genius; a coach who adroitly addressed and exploited the evening’s biggest match-ups. We were not outcoached on D!

    This game was such a gravitating event. A gift to decades of starved Bucs fans. The Saints in their house. A game where Jameis would annoyingly throw a highlight TD — but still lose. A game where our youngest players would dominate. Who would have ever, ever guessed that it would be them, our often frustratingly-confused defensive squad that would thoroughly dominate and that our “embarassment-of-riches” offensive weapons would take a back seat. Totally unpredicted and totally thrilling. What a glorious and juicy win. Here’s to one of the best “Victory Mondays” in the Bucs’ existence. Enjoy, my friends.

  19. Jmarkbuc Says:


    Yup 👍

  20. Anonymous Says:

    Yes, I saw Brady try to high five the ref. I’m glad because u r right, they made some bogus calls. The first flag of the game was bogus against Whitehead. Also, the refs failed to flag the saints for holding n use of hands under the neck almost taking our lineman’s head off.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    Awesome recap Ira. Most of the articles I just read penned by ‘others’ lavished praise on the offense for winning the game, but it was the defensive play & especially takeaways that spelled the difference in this game. Turnover Differential of PLUS 4 for the Bucs is incredible (first time we’ve done that since beating the Dolphins back in 2017 by a score of … yup, 30-20).

    The way this game started, I was concerned that this was gonna be a re-run of our last meeting. Offense TWO 3-and-outs to start the game, followed by those TWO long punt returns in the 1st qtr (one called back thank heaven), didn’t bode well. But our defense held them to 2 FGs & that set the tone for what followed IMO. Awesome defensive effort; kudos to Todd Bowles for creating & calling an aggressive game-plan that kept the Saints off-balance all night.

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’ve gotten to be quite confused over some of the plays….whether they are called by BL or Brady just decides to go to a receiver downfield…..It’s hard to tell…..My assumption is that it wasn’t the first option for Brady.

    Teams we play never throw deep on 3rd & short……

    Also, last night our defense was penalized on several 3rd downs….extending Saint drives…..thank God for the turnovers.

  23. mg Says:

    Congratulations to all you life long Bucs fans.

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    813bucboi … I will give BL credit for one thing: he FINALLY learned that NFL rules allow you to run as well as pass the football. Last night’s offensive strategy was the polar opposite from what BL dreamt up in either of our prior 2 meetings this year. It even resembled a BALANCED ATTACK for once … Praise the Lord!

    Brady threw 33 times (completing 18 for 54.5%) and we ran 32 times (not including the kneeldowns at the end of the game). THAT’S an excellent BALANCED ATTACK in my book. Fournette was the offensive star of the game IMO with 63 yds rushing & 44 yds receiving, but RoJo was a huge contributor with his 62 yds rushing. Kudos to our OLine for some very good run-blocking and for only allowing 1 sack.

    I do agree with BradyBucs that those 2 deep pass attempts on 3rd-and-short early in the game really sucked. It showed a lack of patience that we’ve seen on too many occasions. It also showed me that BL & BA don’t REALLY trust the running game to come through on those critical short yardage situations. We’d be much better off if they did.

  25. Jim Says:

    Ira, you forgot Scottie! A terrific route and big, tough reception at a critical point in the game…

  26. Defense Rules Says:

    @TBBF … “Also, last night our defense was penalized on several 3rd downs….extending Saint drives…..thank God for the turnovers.”

    Yea verily TBBF. I remember one of the announcers last night mentioning that the Bucs had given the Saints 5 first downs as a result of penalty calls (we only had 7 penalties total last night).

    And yes, if it hadn’t been for the turnovers, I doubt that we would’ve won that game. Saints only punted twice, and they scored on 4 drives. The 4 Saints turnovers that ended drives not only kept the Saints from scoring, but also gave our offense incredible field position that subsequently ended in us scoring. That to me was the story of the ball game.

  27. Darin Says:

    About time he realized brees wasn’t gona beat anyone deep. I’m hoping Bowles already knew and was saving that plan for the playoffs. We already know he knows how to play Rodgers. Time to go do it! Go Bucs!

  28. JohnBoy Says:

    While nothing will likely ever compare to Ronde’s Philly pick 6, which literally saved the game, the late interception had a very similar feel, as it followed a decade plus of futility.

  29. Bird Says:

    11. This goes out to the trolls. The losers. Guys that actually call themselves bucs fans when they are just a fan of one former player. You guys were so wrong. It was so obvious what the right moves was. And then you proclaimed super bowl or bust . How about nfc championship in lambeau field. This excitement has been missing on this team for 15 years. Yet you root for the team to lose so you can say i told you so. Just want to reach out to some of the trolls and say 😂

  30. Bobby M. Says:

    Any given week any of these playoff teams can beat the other. The season keeps getting better, on top GB.

  31. Reach87 Says:

    Great team (team game) win. FYSA, rarely do the Bucs call one play in the huddle. Even last night you heard (if you were listening) Coach say there were 3 options on the 3rd and 1 that worked. We have a QB and team that can accept and execute audibles depending on what the QB (and often the center, who helps call protections) actually see after the headset is turned off. Watch and listen…it happens in every NFL game. Go Bucs!

  32. Reach87 Says:

    Sorry, my point is that the Bucs(team game) called a good enough offense to beat a pretty good defense last night. The offensive team has been good enough to win 13games this year and get us to the championship game. Yet you lot criticize the OC. Funny. Sad. Go Bucs!

  33. 813bucboi Says:

    BL calls the plays….Brady makes the read….

    Both times on 3rd and short Brady had the fournette open in the flat….Brady choose to go deep….

    The thing that almost cost us the game was Brady missing GRONK a couple times….

    Once again BL makes you haters look like clowns…..continue to eat crow


  34. 813bucboi Says:


    You’re clueless

    Out of all the plays BL called you pick out 2 plays….lol…

    What about the 2 passes to GRONK that Brady missed?…

    Not even Brady is perfect….



  35. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    Love your takes Ira …. It’s a fresh professionalism for this site!! No park benching, bird feeding, Helmut tossing…. crap!! Just stats, truth and years of football knowledge!! Glad you write for this site!!

  36. unbelievable Says:

    SMB turned his play around big time.

    Still made some errors, and we were lucky Brees didn’t attempt a single long pass. That won’t be the case with Rodgers, so our defense will have to continue to elevate their play this weekend. I like them in man coverage so much more than zone.