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Why Are The Tampa Bay Bucs Falling Apart?

January 3, 2022
The Bucs are falling apart

Unless you spent Week 17 of the NFL season in a remote cave on a deserted island, you likely heard about the whole Antonio Brown fiasco. As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers struggled on Sunday with the New York Jets, Brown apparently had enough. He stripped off his pads, t-shirt, and gloves and simply walked off the field…in the third quarter. 

While it’s unfortunate that a player of Brown’s caliber did what he did, the whole thing is indicative of something that is brewing in Tampa Bay. And that brew isn’t very good. It seems as though the Tampa Bay Bucs are falling apart. But why?

 

Peaked Already

Remember a year ago when there was some doubt early in the 2020 season about Tampa Bay? The Bucs lost three of five games in November last year and then closed the season with four straight victories. Then, they rolled through the playoffs all the way to a Lombardi Trophy. 

It could be argued that the Bucs have already reached their peak this season. They capped off four straight wins with 33-27 overtime victory over Buffalo to move to 10-3 on the season. Since then, it’s been downhill. The only saving grace has been the Bucs’ schedule.

Tampa Bay got blanked by New Orleans in Week 15 and have faced Carolina and the Jets in the past two weeks. They take on the Panthers again in Week 18 to close the season. The Panthers have packed it in for the season, but the Jets put up a fight on Sunday. New York led 24-17 up to the midway point of the fourth quarter. Super Bowl contenders normally don’t find themselves trailing 4-12 teams in the fourth quarter…unless they have issues.

 

Injuries

There’s no question the knee injury suffered by WR Chris Godwin was a big blow to the Tampa Bay offense. Despite playing just 14 games, Godwin will finish the 2021 season as the Bucs leading receiver. He caught 98 passes for 1,103 yards and five touchdowns. 

Brown (42 receptions, 545 yards, 4 TDs) was supposed to fill the void left by Godwin’s injury. That, of course, isn’t going to happen now. With the Bucs down 24-20 on Sunday, QB Tom Brady needed a receiver. It wasn’t Brown and it wasn’t Mike Evans, who has a team-high 12 touchdown catches. It was Cyril Grayson – WHO? – that provided the game-winning touchdown catch, a 33-yarder from Brady.

Not having Godwin hurts, but not having RB Leonard Fournette might hurt even more. Fournette is the Bucs leading rusher with 812 yards, but he was placed on injured reserve with a hamstring injury after the loss to the Saints. Fournette makes the ground game go and that helps Brady and the passing game. Without him against the Jets on Sunday, the Bucs totaled 62 yards rushing.

 

The Anonymous Cast

The 44-year-old Brady cannot do this by himself. Yes, Mike Evans can be a beast, but the rest of the receivers? Grayson? Scotty Miller? These are not names that strike fear into opponents. RB Ronald Jones is listed as questionable right now as is Ke’Shawn Vaughn. 

Here’s how bad it is in Tampa Bay. The Bucs punter, Bradley Pinion, is on the Reserve/COVID list. Brown’s antics on Sunday were just one piece of a much larger puzzle that is likely not to be completed this year. 

The Bucs Super Bowl title odds have dropped from +450 to +750 at top sportsbook BetUS.com – If you are still a believer in Brady and Bucs now is the time to lock them in!