By: Tom Matthews
After going 6-2 the first 8 weeks, the Buccaneers are now sitting at 7-5. Brady has been missing too many down the field throws and has not been very efficient on 3rd downs. Throughout the whole process, the media and fans had one question. Why are the Buccs running the ball less? For nineteen years in New England, the Patriots ran the ball and Brady fed off the play-action routes. That seemed to be working with the Buccs team as well. The run/throw was balanced and Brady took occasional shots down the field. But, at some point, the “occasional shots” turned into “more often” and more throws started to be incomplete. More interceptions started to come out of plays. Yet, they have stuck with the game plan.
The concerning part about all of this was when Arians was recently asked about the play calls and how they were not working, and if he had plans to use the style of offense that worked for Brady back in New England. He responded with, “Brady has been picking the plays for a while now.” While most of the turnovers were on Brady, Arians’ response left many wondering a few things. Why would a person like Tom Brady move away from something that worked for him for many years and keep calling plays that are continuously failing? Also, if Brady is making the calls, as the head coach, you have every right overrule Brady and have him call the plays you believe will work better. In the win over the Giants in week 8, the Buccs struggled to run the ball, but they kept attempting to run throughout the game. After the game, when Arians’ was asked why he kept the game plan, he responded with, “we had to keep running so we can do play actions, which have worked in our favor.” At what point did you think it is not wise to have one of the best RBs in the league this year (Ronald Jones) in the backfield for most of your plays. Last we checked “no risk it, no biscuit” was Arains’ moto and not Brady’s. 2 weeks ago, the Buccs fell 17-0 against the chiefs in the first quarter and was struggling to make a come-back when Fournette dropped a 5-yard pass on a 3rd and 2 forcing the Buccs to punt the ball on 4th down. Punting on 4th and short when trailing by 17 does not exactly sound like a play call Brady would make. The play calls Brady would make were seen in the 4th quarter of the same game when they were still trailing by 17. Quick outs, run games, play actions, and occasional shots down the field. These calls cut the 17 point deficit into a 3-point game. As much as we all believe the Chiefs played better than the score suggests, the way the 4th quarter was going, one thing was obvious to both the Buccs and the Chiefs. If the Chiefs wanted to keep the 3 point lead and not lose the game, they better run the clock out and not turn the ball over to Brady. Brady had put up 14 points on back to back drives proving his old methods still work.
Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer all have one thing in common. Their highest interception seasons were all under Bruce Arians. Tom Brady, after twenty years in the NFL, is now on pace to throw the most interceptions he has in a season. Maybe the “no risk it, no biscuit” mentality is not the best to have all the time.
The Buccaneers finally had a bye last week and are set to face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday battling to keep their wild card spot. If the Buccs want to win, then hopefully, Arians and Brady have had enough time to look at their films, understand where adjustments need to be made, and come out strong for the following 4 games to finish 11-5 and carry the momentum into the playoffs. The Buccs need to learn to play to their enemies’ weakness and to their players’ strength rather than force-feed the ball.
Here is a tip from yours truly and Sandra Bullock from the Blind Side, “Run the dang ball!!”