For the most part, all that’s gone wrong with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has little to do with Tom Brady. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch.
When Tom Brady abruptly announced his retirement on Feb. 1, it felt like football fans had been robbed.
Robbed of a glimpse on his victory lap. Robbed of knowing what may be his final touchdown.
Robbed of a chance to say goodbye.
Forty days later, NFL fans regained the opportunity to view Brady for what many anticipate to be his final NFL season. At forty-five years of age, Brady is doing what no one else has ever dreamed of doing.
He is still high-performing (sorry, Max and Mayor Lucas). He still throws rainbows, hitting the breadbasket in the corner of the endzone to Breshad Perriman. He’s still got it, but the tragic thing is, the Bucs don’t have it. At least not yet.
What the Bucs do have are unrelenting injuries that are hurting their offense week in and week out. Unnecessary penalties as second and third-string players iron out their chemistry. Costly turnovers, like the one that gift-wrapped a Chiefs touchdown in the first 46 seconds of their Week 4 game. And just because Mike Evans, Julio Jones and Chris Godwin are back doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon the run game.
In his third season with the team, the problems that plagued Tampa Bay in 2020 have come back to haunt Brady’s Buccaneers. And it’s frustrating to see, because theoretically, this team has the tools to win it all in 2022.
Tom Brady and the Buccaneers deserve better out of 2022
For anyone who genuinely believes that the best team should win, it’s disheartening to see a unit with so much potential go 2-2 instead of 4-0.
Missing three of their starting wide receivers was an obvious sore point in their Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but so was the training camp injury to starting center Ryan Jensen. A delay of game penalty cost the Bucs a chance to take it to overtime, and while many blamed Brady for taking the count all the way down, it’s not uncommon for quarterbacks to do that. What was uncommon was the extended pause that Robert Hainsey took to snap the ball.
“There’s a lot to it. Bad execution on offense at a time when we needed good execution,” Brady said after the game. “Penalties, turnovers, missed opportunities…” Brady continued, rattling off a list of what went wrong.
That moment epitomizes what the Buccaneers are working with at the moment. This isn’t to knock every player working hard to give it their all each week, but it seems to be a revolving door among starting players that is making it difficult for the team to execute. To put it casually, the Bucs just signed Cole Beasley off his couch because they’re that depleted at receiver. And it’s not even like this is a new story for the team, as they reserved seven spots for wide receivers on their 53-man roster because this happened in 2021.
Aside from personnel, there’s the fact that the Bucs’ delayed adjustments are costing them games. In Week 3, the Bucs shut out the Packers completely in the second half. Zero points. The Bucs offense that only scored a field goal in the first half scored nine in the second. As impressive as the halftime turnaround was, it was too little, too late.
In Week 4, the Bucs headed to the locker room facing a 28-17 difference. The Chiefs scored 13 total points in the next two quarters, while the Bucs scored 14 points. A much more even game, but not enough to end with a win.
The Bucs are not a bad team, but a shaky one that still needs to find its footing. A part of that is being able to depend on its talented starters, especially on offense. The Bucs just got Donovan Smith back to complement Shaq Mason and Tristan Wirfs, and Brady passed for 385 yards as a result. Thankfully, the Bucs defense is largely healthy, and they’ve proven their dominance with the right gameplan.
It takes time to figure it all out, which the Bucs proved in 2020 when the Wild Card team defied expectations and went on to win the Super Bowl. If anyone can do it again, it’s them, led by a quarterback who has defied the odds more than anyone in NFL history.
But they’ll need to be their best, and soon, because this isn’t just Tom Brady’s victory lap. It could be the last chance the Bucs see this kind of success for quite some time, so now is the time to make it count.