Image Credit: (Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
Since it is now week 9 I have decided to do a new writing series I like to call The Panic Button. This will focus on teams that are pushing the panic button this season as they are having a disappointing season right now and I give multiple reasons why it is time to panic. For this one I decided to focus on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who lost in Week 8 to the Baltimore Ravens 27-22. Last week was very concerning, but with the Buccaneers at this spot, it is absolutely time for this team to press the panic button and there are many reasons why.
The Notable Decline of Tom Brady
As a fan of the New York Jets, growing up I use to despise Tom Brady and hated every time he destroyed my favorite team. However as I grow older, I have grown to respect Brady for what he has done on and off the football field. Tom Brady is one of if not the greatest football player that has ever played, ever.
However, one thing that we can agree on is that Brady has not been himself this season. He has suffered massive levels of regression this season and it is getting sad to see. You can blame the bad o-line (We will get to that), but Brady has a ton of weapons to utilize and has often overthrown or underthrown them. It reminded me a bit of Brady’s last season in New England as ignoring the record Brady had more bad moments than great ones.
Also it is clear that Brady’s personal life has had an effect on him as well. Many say that it does not matter, I really disagree with that statement.
The Injuries on the Interior O-line
Yeah you know that this was going to be talked about regarding the Buccaneers. Their offensive line has been an absolute mess and they are desperately missing both Alex Cappa and Ali Marpet who departed the team during the offseason. Cappa is in Cincinnati and Marpet chose to suddenly retire at the end of the season.
Those are big losses, but during the season the Buccaneers have had an insane amount of injuries on the o-line. Aaron Stinnie was expected to be one of the replacements and even showed flashes in the 2021 season. Well things have not gone to plan as Stinnie suffered a Torn ACL and of course ended his season.
Ryan Jensen was a great center for the buccaneers and even signed an extension with the team. Jensen during practice suffered a season ending knee injury during training camp which is a loss the Buccaneers never recovered from. Robert Hainsy was supposed to be the guy, but he has struggled due to a nagging ankle injury and it looks like he is still hurt. Also Hainsy is more of a Tackle then a guard as well which also hurts.
Luke Goedeke is currently dealing with a foot injury and he has been out a few weeks. Even when healthy Goedeke has been terrible. Shaq Mason is also banged up as he is dealing with an ankle injury and who knows if he is 100% right now. These injuries have been a big issue not only on the running game, but with Brady. He is just getting hit so many times and it gets to points where he is clearly under pressure in the pocket.
Injuries at Secondary
The one big disappointment for the Buccaneers is how bad their secondary has been performing mainly due to the amount of injuries they have had. S Antonie Winfield has been playing hurt and is dealing with a concussion. CB Carloton Davis is dealing with a hip injury that has been an issue for a bit. CB Sean Murphy-Bunting has not been great and he is currently dealing with a quad injury. Even when healthy Murphy-Bunting has not performed well and the Bucs were trying to trade him during the Trade Deadline. Unfortunately for them nobody wanted to get him. Logan Ryan who the Bucs signed due to the injuries has not worked out and he currently is on on IR due to a foot injury and who knows when or if he will be back this season. The secondary has been beaten up and they don’t have a lot of depth to replace these injured players.
Shaq Barrett out for the season
Shaq Barrett was one of the main pieces to that Tampa Bay defense when they won Super Bowl 55. With all the struggles that they have had, the Buccaneers need him to perform well.
Well, now he is out for the season. Plus when you tear your achilles that is a very serious injury that will affect the career of Barrett. In my opinion excluding back/neck injuries a Torn Achilles is the second worst injury for a player to have in the NFL. This was a tremendous loss to a Buccaneers team that desperately needs talent to stay healthy to get them into the playoffs.
I have said this since the beginning of the season and during the NFC South War Room Podcast. One of the only downsides of the Buccaneers for the season is if they would struggle with coaching once Arians retired. Boy was I right, as the Buccaneers severely are missing Bruce Arians as the head coach of this team. When the Buccaneers decided to promote Todd Bowles as the head coach instead of Byron Leftwich made no sense to me at all. Remember at the time Leftwich at the time was a candidate to be a head coach last offseason. Promoting Bowles was a big risk, especially with how disastrous Bowles’s coaching tenure was with the New York Jets. With a 2nd chance at a head coaching role from what I have seen, he has learned nothing from his mistakes in New York. I have had many say to me, oh Todd Bowles just did not have talent during his time with the Jets. Well he has that Talent in Tampa Bay and he still is horrendous as the head coach. The Buccaneers have looked unprepared and undisciplined the entire season. Plus this team just can’t adapt to any situation at all. No disrespect to Bowles as he is a brilliant minded defensive coordinator, but he does not have what it takes to be a head coach in the NFL.
Who also likely does not have it as a head coach is Byron Leftwich as the playcalling has been abysmal and very stale lately. I have to ask, What happened to utilizing the running backs? I get the o-line is hurt, but excluding Leonard Fournette who has been mediocre this season, the Buccaneers have barely used anybody else. Rachaad White has not done much 8 weeks in the season. Gio Bernard I forgot was still a Buccaneer and he has been hurt. Also where the heck has Ke’Shawn Vaughn been? Remember him, the 3rd round pick the Buccaneers chose in the 2020 NFL Draft. He has been the running back that the Bucs forgot as I barely saw him on the field this season. Coaching matters in the NFL and it is clear that this team is poorly coached on offense and defense.
What will Tampa Do next?
Honestly, I really don’t know what the Buccaneers will do next. If I was Tampa Bay I would definitely tank the season as it is clear that the Buccaneers need a long term option at QB and 2023 is a deep QB class. However I doubt they will tank as Brady just wants to win now with what little time he has left. One thing that is a must is for Tampa to make a trade for an o-lineman as Brady is getting beaten up this season (Spoiler Alert: They did nothing). Even if Brady is not back next season, it is a wakeup call and Tampa should prep the o-line for next season. One thing is for sure, it is Panic time in Tampa Bay and I wonder how the Buccaneers will respond next.