Buc Up…with Rob Kriete – SEPTEMBER 12

-Finally, Week One of the 2020 NFL season is upon us. Patrick Mahomes is already looking like the best player in the league while adjusting to the Texans zone-defense and throwing three TDs in the NFL 2020 opener. He is on the young-side of great while we get ready for a Hall-of-Fame matchup between Tom Brady and Drew Brees this Sunday.

– Tom Brady has the most wins as a QB in NFL history with 219 with Drew Brees 4th all-time with 163.

-The Saints are a tough matchup for Tampa Bay in Week #1. Not only are they on the road against a New Orleans team that has won the NFC South the past three seasons, but the Bucs also have an untested “new” offense led by Brady. I expect the Saints to pump in noise in what will be a fan-free Superdome adding to difficulties for the Buccaneer offense.

-Rob Gronkowski, new Bucs TE, speaking on the challenge for the Bucs entering Week 1, “It’s definitely going to be a challenge going into New Orleans. They’re a great team, they have great players, they have another great quarterback, too, in Drew Brees. They have a good defense, a good offense, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s definitely another challenge for Tom, for myself [and] for this team. All we can ask for is to just go out there and give our best and not really look at anything else. Like, ‘Oh, I have to go out there and win for this or that.’ No. We just have to go out there, give it our best, give it our all and give it our best fight that we can possibly give when we get out there to New Orleans.”

-New Orleans is the only NFL city I have visited where regardless of where you are when the Saints score a touchdown, you can hear a cacophony of cheers coming from the many various watering holes. (That is how you crowbar in cacophony, a word I love.)

-As predicted here, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. will be starting for Tampa Bay in Week #1.
Winfield, who can stuff the running game while playing deep, will be counted on to help a secondary that was too generous to opposing quarterbacks in 2019.

-The Tampa Bay defense did improve dramatically in the second half of last season and was the 8th best defense in the NFL over the last eight weeks of 2019.
Building off that, Defense Coordinator, Todd Bowles, spoke on how much better his defensive players understand the defense this year instead of the first matchup with New Orleans in 2019. Bowles stated, “As far as understanding it, they know it a little better than they knew it a year ago. Obviously, with experience comes time, so they understand it a little better. We’re still getting some kinks out here and there, but I think they have a good understanding of what we’re trying to do.”

Nov 10, 2019; Tampa, FL USA; Fans celebrate the success of Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) during an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium. The Buccaneers beat the Cardinals 30-27. (Steve Jacobson)

-Shaquil Barrett, OLB, not only led the league with 19.5 sacks in 2019, he destroyed the Buccaneer’s franchise record of 16.5 that Warren Sapp set in 2000.

-Prediction of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34
New Orleans Saints 31

-Steve Jacobson provided all photos in my “Buc Up” column.  Thanks, Stevie J!