TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers might have pulled out a 48-40 road win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, but they won't win many games this season if their defense allows 475 yards and 40 points.
Entering Sunday, the Bucs were 0-35 in games when the defense surrendered 40 or more points.
Here's a look at areas where Tampa Bay struggled and how it can correct those mistakes when facing the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2 (1 p.m. ET, Fox):
Inability to stop Kamara in space
Last season's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara had just 29 rushing yards, but he was dangerous in space. He finished with 112 receiving yards, averaging 9.56 yards before first contact and 7.22 yards after the catch.
On the second play from scrimmage, the Saints utilized the option, with Kamara slipping past linebacker Kwon Alexander and running to the outside for a 35-yard pickup.
"They did show a lot more spread than we anticipated," Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith said. "I thought they did a really nice job of getting Kamara out and getting him mismatches."
Thomas thrived in the slot
This shouldn't have been a surprise. Thomas was targeted on 40.5 percent of slot routes last season, according to Pro Football Focus, and averaged 3.63 yards per route run out of the slot, the second-best in the PFF era.
Out of an empty backfield, Thomas got an 11-yard catch working against Hargreaves inside. On their third possession, Thomas again lined up in the slot and caught a short pass on a crossing route working against Carlton Davis for a 35-yard pickup.
"They were really working inside -- the choice routes to Kamara and the option routes to the receiver," said coach Dirk Koetter. "That was really their game plan. ... When we're in two-high [safety] coverage, they were working inside. We were in single-high [safety] coverages, they were working outside."
The Saints utilized an empty backfield more than any other team in the league this past week (17 snaps). They did it a lot last season, but even more so in Week 1. That's not a look the Bucs are likely to see against the Eagles though -- Phialdelphia only did it once against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 1.
Inexperience at cornerback
Davis was picked on a lot against the Saints. He was beaten outside working against Ted Ginn Jr. (he might have hesitated briefly when he saw the Saints stacking their receivers on the play) for a 28-yard touchdown on their third possession.
On the Saints' second possession, had Drew Brees not overthrown Kamara, who was working against Davis, they might have scored a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal. Brees completed 88.9 percent of his passes for a 146.8 passer rating when throwing to the right (Davis' side).
This will continue with Vernon Hargreaves now on injured reserve and Brent Grimes possibly missing more time with a groin injury. The Bucs added some experience this week by signing Marcus Williams, but how soon can he be ready to help lighten the load?
"I've just gotta learn the terminology, but the coverages and things like that, I think I can pick it up pretty fast. It's kinda similar to what the Saints and the Jets run -- a lot of man. Man is what I like to play as well -- press and in your face," said Williams, who said he can play off coverage as well.
Though the Bucs have been mostly an off-coverage team under Smith, they did press at the line of scrimmage at times in Week 1 and might have to do more of it to adjust to the strengths of their personnel.
Lack of pressure
Despite one sack on Brees, the Bucs could not get to the quarterback. They did pressure Brees on 17.4 percent of his dropbacks.
"We've got to get the quarterback on the ground. We had some opportunities and we missed them," Smith said.
It'll be tough again this week against the Eagles. Though the Saints' pass protection rate (percentage of dropbacks when the offensive line controls the line of scrimmage) is 51.5 percent going back to 2017, the Eagles' rate is 48.7 percent, which ranks among the league's top 10.
The lack of sacks on Brees is often attributed to how quickly he gets rid of the football. He averages 2.48 seconds before he throws. This week's opposing quarterback, Nick Foles, averages 2.58 seconds before he throws, giving defensive linemen a bit more of an opportunity to get to him.
Stopping the Eagles' gadget plays
The Eagles utilize numerous misdirection and trick plays to keep defenses on their heels (see: "Philly Special"and "Philly Philly"). Wide receiver Nelson Agholor lined up inside and outside (last season, he spent about 85 percent of his time in the slot). They've used him on end-arounds, tosses, hand-offs inside -- you name it. He had 33 receiving yards in Week 1, but also completed a 15-yard pass to Foles and had a 16-yard run.
Said former Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen: "Defending gadget plays, in my opinion, is fundamentally about discipline and not overcommitting to one thing and just staying within your rules. A lot of basic stuff you just need to focus on every day, every play. If you don't, teams can take advantage of it."