News & Analysis

NFL Week 1 PFF ReFocused: New Orleans Saints 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23

In a battle of the titans, the incumbent NFC South champions made a resounding statement out of the gate. While there were numerous mental errors that led to Tampa Bay‘s demise Sunday, Tom Brady struggled in his Buccaneers debut.

That's a credit to the Saints' defense, which took advantage of those mistakes to take hold of first place in the division through one week of action.

[Editor's note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle.]

Story of the Game

There were numerous miscommunications on offense for the Buccaneers, with the absence of a preseason making it difficult for their new parts to mesh. When it was all said and done, Brady went 23 of 36 for 239 yards, two scores and two picks (three turnover-worthy plays). Nothing ever quite jelled, and Brady never looked like he was in rhythm the way he often did in New England.

Chalking it all up to a new offense for Brady and not giving a good deal of credit to the Saints' defense would be misguided, however. This is one of the most complete defenses in the NFL, and it showed Sunday. New cornerback Janoris Jenkins made his presence felt early and often. While he gave up seven catches for 98 yards, he also had a crucial pick-six and another forced incompletion. New safety Malcolm Jenkins got involved, too, and didn't allow a catch on two targets while forcing an incompletion.

Drew Brees is lucky that the Saints' defense had themselves a day because he wasn’t on his A-game, either. Of his 160 yards, 61.9% of them came after the catch. Tampa Bay's physical cornerbacks gave the Saints' wideouts some issues, with both Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis allowing under 20 yards on the day.

Sep 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) under center against the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rookie Watch

Tasked with blocking the venerable Cameron Jordan for much of the day, first-round pick Tristan Wirfs passed the first serious test of his young career. He allowed only two pressures on 41 pass-blocking snaps and had another couple of losses that didn’t result in pressures. He vastly outplayed left tackle Donovan Smith on the day, which is simultaneously a good and a bad thing.

On the other side of the ball, Antoine Winfield Jr. had an encouraging first start, as well. He forced an incompletion in coverage and had one missed tackle on six attempts. He split his time fairly evenly between the box (28 snaps) and deep (34 snaps).

For the Saints, only edge defender Malcolm Roach (23 snaps) and tight end Adam Trautman (seven snaps) saw playing time. Neither made their presence felt in a meaningful way.

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