Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Saints

October 1st, 2023

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That late-game hug shared by Todd Bowles and Jason Licht said it all.

There was still time left on the Superdome clock, but this result was cooked like New Orleans gumbo because the visitors were the far superior team. The Bucs were better on both sides of the ball in a 26-9 triumph that leaves them as the only 3-1 club in the NFC South.

Tampa Bay players and coaches can enjoy the bye week knowing this franchise has emerged as one of the league’s biggest surprises. The Bucs are 2-0 on the road and only the unbeaten Eagles have had their way with a young, hungry team that has yet to hit its stride.

The Bucs overcame 11 penalties and a hamstring injury to Mike Evans, who was off to a nice start against nemesis Marshon Lattimore. If Evans, Jamel Dean and rookie Calijah Kancey can suit up against the Lions in Week 6, Buc fans may have something special on their hands.

It’s a long season and things can go sideways in a hurry, but Bowles has the look of a contented professor proud of his pupils. Licht has the look of a GM who is starting to believe Baker Mayfield represents the steal of the offseason.

It has all come together rather nicely in the wake of Tom Brady’s departure. Dave Canales remains true to his emphasis on offensive balance while a fast, physical defense leads the way.

It’s called complementary football — a term that didn’t fit the offensively challenged 2022 Buccaneers. If you think Bowles might allow this stellar start to go to his head, you don’t know Todd Bowles. He’s already thinking about Jared Goff, Aidan Hutchinson and a 3-1 Detroit team that looks downright dangerous.

Here’s how the Bucs notched their third consecutive win against the Saints:

Special day for the Bucs’ special safety.

* Plenty of game balls to go around, but the first one needs to be sent in the direction of Antoine Winfield Jr. Reverting him back to his pure safety position has worked wonders for No. 31, who bedeviled New Orleans all afternoon to the tune of 9 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. That doesn’t even count his savvy deflection of a pass deep down the middle intended for Chris Olave. How’s this for production through four weeks — 30 stops, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries. He’s on his way to an All-Pro season.

* The bad news? Alvin Kamara caught 13 balls. The good news? All those receptions translated into only 33 yards. Lavonte David and Devin White took turns containing one of the NFL’s most versatile backs.

* Speaking of containment, Derek Carr’s 20-yard pass to Michael Thomas marked the only New Orleans snap that gained more than 13 yards. Meanwhile, Mayfield registered five completions of at least 18 yards.

* Chase McLaughlin’s 51-yard FG, right down Broadway, would have been good from at least 60 yards. No wonder Bowles made the switch from Ryan Succop.

* With Evans sidelined, Chris Godwin came up big with 114 yards on 8 catches. Very few receivers in this league have more reliable hands.

* Canales keeps stressing balance and he keeps backing it up. Sunday’s scorecard: 33 runs and 34 passes.

* Mayfield has been masterful in buying himself time when protection breaks down. A slide step here, a shimmy there and voila, the defense is in trouble. “He made some great plays worthy of him being a former No. 1 overall pick,” said a frustrated Cam Jordan. “Kudos to him.”

* The arrival of Canales has made a significant impact in moving the chains. Tampa Bay converted 8-of-15 on third down Sunday and is now at 47 percent for the season. Last year’s conversion rate was 37 percent.

* Carr threw 37 times yet gained only 127 yards. The pass rush was consistent and the secondary closed in a hurry, displaying much better tackling than Monday night against A.J. Brown and the Eagles.

* Buc fans knew Mayfield had enough arm to get the job done, but there were questions about his toughness and composure. Not anymore. He took some shots from a solid defense and never flinched. It hasn’t taken him long to win over his teammates … and his head coach.

“The guys love to play for him,” Bowles said. “He works for us.”

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

  1. Brandon Says:

    Mayfield just had to be average for this team to contend for the playoffs and be slightly above average to win 10+ games. He has been better than advertised. There isn’t much to dislike about his game. His one mistake wss a bad throw but a good decision. That’s way better than a bad decision. He’s clearly an upgrade thus far over what we had at the position last season

  2. Crickett Baker Says:

    One of the best parts was Winston throwing a pick on his first throw! The game was really fun, and almost every player played great.

  3. AMI_Chris Says:

    Bucs look strong, especially in a weak division. Defense played great. Worried about the o-line, though. Brady would have been sacked ten times today.

  4. Chris Says:

    This team has potential. You can just feel the momentum. A better vibe than last year, and definitely a different vibe than most people had predicted. Win the division. Get in the playoffs. Get everyone healthy, and you never know what could happen.

  5. Citrus County Says:

    I’m waiting for Mayfield to show up wearing a Bucco Bruce pirate hat with a dagger between his teeth.

  6. Crunchbuc 76 Says:

    I guess Candy ass Kancey and She Vocea Dennis enjoyed their lunch watching on the very expensive sofas. Anytime now ladies…

  7. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    GO BUCS. F cam jordan.

  8. Sly Pirate Says:

    – or –
    Hall, Goedeke, Zyon, Camarda
    (RWhite, Otton … TBD)

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    The ATM pick was a cherry on top of the Superbowl Gumbo (to distastefully mix individually tasty metaphors…)

    Hey, Jaboo, check yo’ sheets!

  10. Bucs'n'Bucks Says:

    What a great game!! Everybody showed up and did their part. So fun to watch this team prove everyone wrong. And the extra week off to heal is going to make the Detroit game epic!

  11. ModHairKen Says:

    Who had questions about his toughness and composure? Slovenly sportswriters who take years to get their HOF nominees in?

  12. ATLBuc Says:

    Ira don’t forget about Winfields tackles for lossez

  13. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Seen a lot of Mayfield these past few years up here in Ohio. Positives,lots of escapability in the pocket, thrives in out of structure plays. Big arm. Negatives, he thinks he can hit every tight window (like todays int) and hasn’t mastered the touch pass. Thats why seeing him loft that TD pass tells me Canales is working a little magic in the Bay

  14. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Really like what I’m seeing. Man this offense could be lethal when firing on all cylinders and that also includes if they get a run game going to compliment ME13 n CG14. Defense even with its injuries looks good but aints offense isn’t all that great but they are no slouches either. Man if kancey gets back and we get more of a pass rush boy this defense will be scary. Like what I see from zyon too and izen. They are developing nice

  15. Buc Fan in CO Says:

    Did Ira just pass up an opportunity to call this team “youngry”??? LMAO

    And apparently Doctor “Crunchbuc 76” (is that a cereal brand? WTH dude?) wants injured players to suit up and play, medical staff assessments be damned! Just stop, man. Let the professionals do their jobs.

  16. Love and Warrick Dunn Says:

    They are playing well. No reason to force back players until the doctors and trainers clear them. Anyone think that we beat Philly last week by playing two uber green rookies, coming off injuries? Pointless negativity. GO BUCS!

  17. Pittbucfan Says:

    Get Bake signed for at least a couple more years. I’ve watched him play here in Pittsburgh for da brawns especially when he came here and killed the stillers in the playoffs. Cleveland screwed him and their fan base for that joke they have now. It should be apparent now his heart and smarts. Phuck the Caleb talk. The dude we have can ball out. GO BUCS!!

  18. Pittbucfan Says:

    And btw, my wife and I spend a lot of time in the northeast part of Ohio. I can attest in my opinion the dude can ball. Cleveland Browns, y’all are dumb. As they say her in Pittsburgh, Cleveland will be Cleveland. Can’t wait to wear my Bucs Mayfield jersey in Cleveland this winter.

  19. nick houllis Says:

    Trade K.Trask to the NY Jets for B. Hall, that will cure our running game!!

  20. Defense Rules Says:

    Nice picks for the ‘Top-10 Takeaways’ Ira. Only one I’d take any issue with is #9: ‘The pass rush was consistent’. Yes they got to Carr 3 times, but I didn’t think that it was consistent at all. He had a bunch of time to throw on quite a few plays, but did very little with the time (lots of bad throws & dropped balls).

    The second part of that same statement … ‘the secondary closed in a hurry … is spot on, and that’s was kept Kamara in check in the passing game all day. Along those same lines though, I thought our Secondary & LBs were giving a lot less cushion to receivers, and the results were impressive.

    I’d add 1 more takeaway on the game: Bucs had far more penalties than we’ve been having (11 penalties for 91 yards), but thankfully they were spread out & didn’t burn us very badly. I guess playing the Saints brings out the worst in us, because we’d been doing great on penalties until that game.

  21. Bucsfanman Says:

    Baker is a gamer. It’s refreshing to see that kind of gritty play from your QB.

    That defense!!!

  22. Voice of Truth Says:

    Joe dropped the facts yesterday on the officiating crew – they throw the most flags in the league and it showed

    Hopefully we don’t see Hochili Jr and his band of overreactors again this season

    Hat tip to Todd, didn’t think he had it in him but it looks like he does

    BA was a veterans coach, we know he didn’t like rookies

    Seems Todd is a good blend that the vets do like and he has an eye for kids with talent he can carve out roles for

  23. orlbucfan Says:

    DR: With all due respect, you know that every time Bucs play in NOLA, the refs go after them. Hochuli is a joke in zebra land. Recall the days of cheatin’ Payton plus refs? Glad that yahoo is gone. Loved it when the Fish crushed him with 70 points. Glad I could only listen to the last 4 minutes cos I would have had smoke coming out of my ears over the crummy refs. Thanks, Ira for the recap. 3-1, how sweet it is!!!!!!!

  24. Arn platz Says:

    It may sound cliche but this team is firing on ALL cylinders. This is a complete team