For the second consecutive week, Tom Brady and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looking for answers from an unexpected road defeat and a distressed infraction.
Preseason favorites NFC South dropped to 3-4 after Sunday’s 21-3 defeat to a Carolina Panthers team that was starting out as third-tier quarterbacks while being led by an interim manager.
The Brady-led bout failed to produce a touchdown a week after failing to reach the end zone until the end of the fourth quarter of a 20-18 defeat to then-Pittsburgh Steelers 1-4.
“It’s still there,” Brady said of Tampa Bay’s need for self-assessment. “We talked about the execution the other day and it still comes out. I think we all just have to do our job better.
“There’s no easy way to do it. They’re trying to stop us from doing our job, we’re trying to do it, and they’re doing a better job than we are. Every time you get three points, it pretty much adds up enough.”
Although the Bucs still reside in first place in what has been a feeble NFC South so far, they have now lost four of their last five games to put Brady in a spot he has rarely been in during his legendary 23-year career. The future Hall of Fame quarterback has lost no less than 0,500 seven games in the season since the 2002 New England Patriots started 3-4, and has never had a losing record at any point after eight games.
“We are not playing well,” admitted coach Todd Bowles. “We are not playing well as individuals, we are not playing well as a team, we are not training well. All around, we are not scoring enough in attack and we are not stopping them enough in defense.
“We have to wear this on our sleeve. They have to be grown men. We will see what we are made of, (we will see) how many people can endure adversity, and this is as dark as it is right now.”
While a defense that has now spent three straight games without forcing a turnover and conceded 173 yards in the run to the Panthers played a role in the difficult Tampa Bay stretch, much of the attention has focused on the continuing problems of the offense for consistently generate points. The Bucs held under 20 points for the fourth time this season in Sunday’s defeat; they scored under 20 just three times going 13-4 and earning the NFC’s second seed in 2021.
“We’re very capable of making plays, we’re just not making them consistently enough to score points,” said Brady, who averages just 6.0 yards per pass attempt during the current two-game losing streak. “We make a great play, we make a bad play, we make a great play, we make a bad play. In football it is not enough.
“You can’t play like that. You have to put together enough good plays to get the ball into the red area and score points.”
With a Thursday night home game against Baltimore on their schedule, the Buccaneers will have little time to try and find solutions to their current problems.
“We’ll see what we have in the future,” Bowles said. “See how many crumble in the dark and see how many people come forward and start playing better, and start training better.”