It’s time for Scott Reynolds’ 2-Point Conversion post-game column, which features two statements, two questions and two predictions based on the latest Bucs game.
Tampa Bay improved to 4-1 by beating Miami, 45-17, at Raymond James Stadium. The Bucs pulled away late thanks to a pair of fourth quarter touchdown passes from Tom Brady to Mike Evans. Brady threw five touchdowns, including two in the first half to Antonio Brown, and passed for 411 yards, which was his most in his two seasons in Tampa Bay. The Bucs offense rolled up 558 yards in the win, as both Evans and Brown went over 100 yards receiving.
2 BIG STATEMENTS
Table of Contents
STATEMENT 1: The Bucs Offense Just Isn’t Fair
It’s just not fair.
When Tampa Bay’s offense is clicking, the Bucs are just about unbeatable.
There are so many weapons Tom Brady has at his disposal that it’s almost impossible to defend when it’s in rhythm. That embarrassment of riches at Tampa Bay’s skill positions was on display in Sunday’s 45-17 win against an overmatched Miami Dolphins team.
“Prior to the third quarter, Richard [Sherman] came over and said, ‘I’ve never been a part of a team with so much talent,’” said Leonard Fournette, who had 107 total yards and a touchdown. “And I’m telling him, ‘Man – excuse my language – but this shit is different. We can score at any time.’ You have multiple, in my opinion what I consider Hall of Fame players – Pro Bowl players – all over the field. That’s not to mention we’re missing Gronk (Rob Gronkowski).”
Bucs WRs Mike Evans, RB Ronald Jones II and Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
Brady threw for 411 yards – his most in red and pewter so far – and five touchdowns. He’s now thrown for five touchdowns three times since he’s been in Tampa Bay, including back in Week 2 against Atlanta this year. Brady hit running back Giovani Bernard with a 10-yard scoring strike in the first quarter, and then found Antonio Brown and Mike Evans for a pair of TD tosses apiece.
“Each one of the guys can be the reason we win,” Brown said. “We’re all unselfish. We know the greater cause is winning. Our business is winning.”
Winning is the Bucs’ business – and business is good.
Tampa Bay improved to 4-1 and scored more than 30 points once again, after dipping below that scoring benchmark for two consecutive weeks in a 34-24 loss at Los Angeles and a 19-17 rain-soaked win at New England.
Brady had the Bucs humming in the red zone (4-of-5 for 80 percent, not counting a kneel down) on Sunday after struggling in that area of the field last week when Tampa Bay was just 1-of-4 (25 percent) in the red zone versus the Patriots. The Bucs were much better on third downs too, converting 8-of-11 (72.7 percent), while the Dolphins struggled (2-of-6 for 28.6 percent). That’s the second-highest mark in franchise history (77.8 percent vs. Miami – 9/21/97).
Brady and his stars – AB, Evans, Bernard, Fournette and Chris Godwin – and contributors in Ronald Jones II, O.J. Howard, Tyler Johnson and Cameron Brate. The Bucs offense generated 558 yards of offense on Sunday – and that’s without future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski.
The Bucs didn’t commit a turnover on offense for the third straight week and had a reasonable six penalties for 47 yards against Miami, which is another positive sign for Tampa Bay’s high-octane scoring machine.
The Bucs are now averaging 33.4 points per game after averaging 30.8 points per game in 2020, which was second in the league behind Green Bay (31.5 avg.). Tampa Bay is the second-highest scoring team in the league behind Dallas (34 avg.).
Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Antonio Brown – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
When the Bucs hit their magic number – which is 30 points or more – they are virtually unstoppable. Dating back to 2019, Tampa Bay has won 19 straight games when scoring 30 points or more under head coach Bruce Arians. Tampa Bay’s last loss when scoring 30 points was a 40-34 overtime loss at Seattle on November 3, 2019.
With Brady at the helm, the Bucs have scored 30 points or more 15 times in 25 games, including the postseason. That’s impressive on one hand, yet predictable on another given the sheer arsenal of talent Brady has at his disposal.
Philadelphia is coming off an impressive 21-18 road win at Carolina on Sunday, but lost its two previous games, 41-21 at Dallas and 42-30 against Kansas City. If Brady and the Bucs continue to handle business in Philly, Tampa Bay could score 30 points again on Thursday night.
And win – again.
Philly can’t cover all of Tampa Bay’s weapons. Few teams can.
STATEMENT 2: Brady Is Looking – And Playing – As Good As Ever
Bucs quarterback Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. doesn’t look 44 years old.
He certainly doesn’t play like it, either.
At an age where virtually every other NFL quarterback has long been retired, Brady is … playing his best football?
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
Can that be?
The last time Brady threw for five touchdowns at least twice in the regular season – as he did against Miami on Sunday and Atlanta in Week 2 – was in 2007. That’s when he accomplished that feat three times en route to passing for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns for the Super Bowl-bound Patriots.
Brady has passed for an NFL-leading 1,767 yards and 15 touchdowns through the first five games of the season, which is second to Patrick Mahomes (16). He’s averaging 353.4 passing yards and three TDs per game through Week 5. That puts Brady on pace to throw for an astounding 6,007 yards and 51 touchdowns this season. Both figures would be Bucs’ single-season records and personal bests for Brady, who passed for 4,633 yards and 40 scores in his first season in Tampa Bay last year.
Not only is Brady in the running for a Pro Bowl berth this year, he’s also in the conversation for NFL MVP honors – at age 44.
Brady, who is coming off knee surgery following the team’s Super Bowl LV win, is moving around so much better in the pocket this year – and also outside of the pocket. While he’s always reluctant to run, Brady scrambled for 13 yards and a first down right before halftime against Miami. He joked about it after the game.
#Bucs QB Tom Brady on having yet another running play.
That 13-yard scamper was Brady’s longest run from scrimmage since his 17-yarder in 2019 in New England. Playing with a torn MCL last year, Brady’s longest run with the Bucs was just four yards.
No one will confuse Brady with Lamar Jackson – or even elusive quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes. But his increased mobility since the surgery has Brady dodging more sacks and escaping the pocket more often this year to make a few more throws on the run.
More throws equal more yards and potentially more touchdowns.
More touchdowns by Brady equals more wins for the Bucs.
2 PROBING QUESTIONS
QUESTION 1: How Many Sacks Did The Bucs Miss On Sunday?
Technically, Tampa Bay missed five sacks of Miami quarterback Jacoby Brissett, according to my game film review. The Bucs dropped Brissett three times, but could have finished with eight if the team’s pass rushers could have gotten him to the ground.
“I told our pass-rush they need to get in the weight room,” Arians said.“Shit, they had [Brissett] wrapped up about five times and couldn’t get him on the ground. Jacoby’s strong. We harassed him, but we need to get those sacks and finish those things.”
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
Rookie outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka missed out on two sacks in the first quarter. On his second attempt, which was his closest, Tryon-Shoyinka didn’t rush with the right leverage and he dove and missed the 6-foot-4, 235-pound QB. But he did force Brissett out of bounds a yard shy of the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Lavonte David was closer to Brissett on that play, and got credit for the sack. So that’s not one of the missed sacks.
Brissett pulled his hamstring on that play, which greatly reduced his mobility for the rest of the game. Yet the Bucs only recorded two more sacks and missed out on four others – even with Brissett wounded and less mobile.
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett had a game-high 1.5 sacks for the Bucs on Sunday, but he and Jason Pierre-Paul couldn’t drag Brissett down in the third quarter. Anthony Nelson also had Brissett in the grasp, but couldn’t bring him to the ground.
In the fourth quarter, Pierre-Paul couldn’t sack Brissett once again, possibly due to a club that he wore on his injured hand. And Barrett and Ndamukong Suh also missed an opportunity for a fourth quarter sack.
What could have been a massive day for the defense in terms of sacks was just average. Pierre-Paul had an excuse with his hand wrapped up like a club, and he should perform better without that next time. The other Bucs defenders don’t have that excuse and need to do a better job wrapping up.
QUESTION 2: How Long Will David Be Out For?
If it is a high ankle sprain, as Arians suggested after the game, it could be a four-to-six week injury for inside linebacker Lavonte David.
Bucs ILB Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
“We don’t know anything about Lavonte yet,” Arians said. “It appears to be a high ankle sprain but we’ll wait and see.”
David, who had his leg rolled up on by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, is certainly going to miss Thursday’s game at Philadelphia and likely the following week at home against Chicago. The earliest I would guess he could return to action would be the Bears game on October 24, or perhaps on Halloween in New Orleans. The Bucs have a bye the following Sunday in Week 9, so it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see David return to action at Washington in Week 10.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Monday afternoon that David in fact suffered a lower ankle injury, and is listed as week-to-week, which is much more favorable news.
Veteran inside linebacker Kevin Minter replaced David and had three tackles, but also missed a few tackles. He’s not as fast or as athletic as David, which could present some problems for Tampa Bay in coverage this Thursday and beyond. Also with Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts being a threat to gain yards with his legs on designed QB runs and scrambles, the Bucs will miss David’s speed on the field.
2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
PREDICTION 1: Godwin Goes Off On TNF
Bucs WRs Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown – Photo by: USA Today
The Bucs had a pair of 100-yard receivers on Sunday in Mike Evans (6-113-2) and Antonio Brown (7-124-2), while slot receiver Chris Godwin had a quieter performance with seven catches for 70 yards. Godwin is tied for the team lead with Evans in receptions with 29, and his 366 yards is second on the team. But Godwin only has two touchdowns, which trails Evans (four) and Brown (three), and hasn’t scored since Week 2.
Both New England and Miami clogged the middle of the field with zone coverage over the past two weeks, which has stifled Godwin’s production. That type of coverage has favored Tampa Bay’s outside receivers, often leaving Evans and Brown in single coverage. Philadelphia often matches slot receivers in man coverage with linebackers or nickel corners, so there is the potential for Godwin to have a big night on Thursday. Expect Godwin, who was born in Philly, to go off in his hometown and have his first 100-yard game since Week 1 and score at least one touchdown.
PREDICTION 2: Bucs Remain Perfect In Prime Time
Outside of the injury to Lavonte David, the Bucs appeared to come out of Sunday’s game relatively unscathed. The Eagles are now 2-3 and are coming off an impressive road win at Carolina, 21-18. Thursday night’s game won’t be as easy as the 45-17 win over Miami, but Tampa Bay will win its third prime time game of the season and improve to 5-1.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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