Tom Brady is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. With seven Super Bowl rings, three MVPs and his name inked at the top of almost every NFL record book, Brady has been hard to slow down over the past two decades.
Halfway through the 2022-23 season, Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold a record of three wins and five losses. This is the first time since 2002 a Brady-led team has a record of under .500 at the halfway mark of the season. It is also the first time since that year that Brady has been on a three-game losing streak. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2020 and have retained almost every player from that championship team. The rushing game is nonexistent. The secondary is heavily injured. Receivers are dropping wide open passes. Luckily for Tampa Bay, their playoff hopes are still very much alive as they are playing in the worst division in football this season. Despite their blunders, Tampa Bay will be in second place after this weekend behind the winner of the Atlanta versus Carolina game.
Last season, Tampa Bay had arguably the most explosive offense in the league, scoring over 24 points in every game but three. This season, Tampa has only exceeded that number once. The coaching change could be to blame for this as the Buccaneers turned to Todd Bowles after Bruce Arians accepted a promotion within the organization. Arians, an aggressive offensive mind and decorated coach in both the college and professional level, took a team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 2007 to a cakewalk Super Bowl Ring in 2020. Bowles has been known to be more defensive minded, and his experience as a head coach is limited as, prior to accepting this position, he had only one winning season under his belt with the New York Jets in 2015.
The previous two games have begun to show this team’s true colors. This past Thursday night, the Buccaneers were dominant in the first half of their matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Leonard Fournette had a rushing touchdown, and the Ravens could only muster three points largely due to two red zone stops from Tampa Bay. Top receiver targets for Baltimore, Mark Andrews and Rashad Bateman exited with injuries and did not play in the second half. This did not stop Lamar Jackson from rallying Baltimore to a 27-22 win, in which the Buccaneers didn’t get back into the end zone until there were only 49 seconds left. It was too little too late. Still, Brady performed well. He had 325 passing yards, the late touchdown, and no interceptions.
Brady has nine touchdown passes to only one interception on the season, yet he has the lowest QBR of his career at 49.5. The eye test really tells the story, since in this game and Tampa’s abysmal 21-3 loss to the Panthers last week–in Carolina’s first game without Christian McCaffrey–Brady has shown weakness. He is overthrowing receivers, bouncing throws off the turf and missing his reads. Do the legendary coaches that guided Brady along the way deserve more credit? Is his age finally catching up to him?
Many wonder if he’ll ever retire, and with recent developments coming to light he has less motivation to do so. At the forefront of Brady’s age 45 season has been his antics outside of his play on the field. His divorce from supermodel Gisele Bündchen has gained international media coverage, and it seems every week there is a new compilation of Brady yelling at his teammates and coaches on the sideline. Is Tom’s head just not in the game? We may never truly know how Brady is handling this controversy internally, but what we have been able to prove this season is that Tom Brady is human.
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