Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defense Faces Daunting Task with Saints

Tom EdringtonSenior Writer IOctober 17, 2012

Drew Brees is looking to extent his TD pass streak to 49 games.
Drew Brees is looking to extent his TD pass streak to 49 games.Harry How/Getty Images

Doesn't matter that they're 1-4.

They're dangerous, very dangerous.

We're talking about the New Orleans Saints, and it doesn't matter that they've got one win. They've still got Drew Brees, a bunch of offensive weapons and they're coming to Tampa off their bye week.

They're ready and rested, and if you aren't a little nervous about that offense of theirs, well, then maybe you ought to be.

Two weeks ago, Brees broke a long-standing NFL record. Johnny Unitas threw touchdown passes in 47 straight games. Joe Montana couldn't pass that; neither could John Elway or Brett Favre or Dan Marino or anyone else until Brees went 48 straight against San Diego.

There's a good chance he'll go 49 against the Bucs. It's just too hard.

"You're not gonna stop Drew Brees," warned Greg Schiano at his Wednesday press conference. "You need to do what you can do to slow him down."

Tough task.

As good a passer as Brees is, you have to stop his runners. The Saints can line up Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles or former Heisman winner Mark Ingram. How's that for a group?

"If you don't stop the run, if you don't they get you coming and going," was Schiano's additional warning.

Which brings us to Brees' receivers. His wide receivers are Marques Colston and Devery Henderson, who caught the record-setting TD ball in San Diego. But it is tight end Jimmy Graham who Brees loves to target. 

Graham is a question mark for Sunday. He's coming off an ankle injury and didn't practice on Wednesday, although he should play.

So here's the deal. This isn't the Kansas City Chiefs and Brady (The Mighty) Quinn.

These Saints, despite that 1-4 record, are still fourth in the league in total offense and first in passing.

This is a huge test. Huge test for E.J. Biggers who is now a starter in place of Aqib "Where did I put my Adderall?" Talib. Big test for rookie Mark Barron, who may be called upon to cover Graham.

Great test for the linebackers, who thus far have been totally up to the task. Lavonte David and Mason Foster have been spectacular, and obviously, they've rubbed off Quincy Black because he bears no resemblance to the bum that wore his jersey last season.

So here's the bottom line. If someone had come up to me before the season started and told me that the Bucs would be a game ahead of the Saints after five games, well, that would have sounded very exciting.

Reality pits a 2-3 team against a 1-4 team Sunday.

And there's always Drew Brees.