In one of the craziest days in the history of the franchise, the Bucs beat the Jets 28-24 on Sunday. Two players had a private flight delayed and didn’t get there until noon, Antonio Brown quit on the team and left in the third quarter, and the Bucs didn’t have their first lead of the game until 15 seconds remained. It was a highlight play as well, as Tom Brady hit Cyril Grayson Jr. for the go-ahead touchdown.
Here are the most disappointing players and moments from the game.
WR Antonio Brown
I say this with no hyperbole: this was one of the most bizarre things I have ever seen in football. Brown straight-up quit on his team and left the field early in the third quarter. Following an outburst, Brown tossed his shoulder pads to the seat, threw his undershirt and gloves into the stands, then walked shirtless to the end zone. He waved to the crowd before heading into the tunnel. That’s his last game with Tampa Bay. Bruce Arians said after the game that Brown is no longer a Buc. I’ve never seen a player just leave in the middle of a game, especially while the offense was on the field. Brown’s tenure with the Bucs was a wild ride.
Bucs Coaching Staff
Bruce Arians, Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles should all shoulder some blame for a lackluster performance in the Bucs’ win. Arians had some questionable decisions, especially late in the game. He decided to kick a field goal to make it a 24-20 game instead of going for it deep in Jets territory. You still needed a touchdown anyway, and if you don’t convert there, the Jets are still backed up in their own territory. Arians also made a puzzling decision to go for two after getting the go-ahead touchdown with 15 seconds remaining. They converted it on a Le’Veon Bell run, but had he been stopped, then the Bucs would only have a two-point lead. Meanwhile, the Jets still had two timeouts and needed just a field goal to win rather than a tie.
Leftwich runs an offense that has little creativity and can be predictable at times. The Bucs rely heavily on their talent winning battles because they are more skilled. But the offense wasn’t winning their matchups due to so many injuries. Leftwich constantly ran the ball on first down without much success. He continued to do that even with Ronald Jones out of the game. There hasn’t been enough play action or finding other ways to get their best players the ball either.
Bowles had another game where the blitzing wasn’t getting home and the Bucs continued to play soft coverage. Zach Wilson hasn’t had the best rookie season, but he was carving up the Bucs in the opening half. They couldn’t get off the field on third down and their once intimidating run defense has crumbled lately. I understand that the Bucs were without important players on defense, but the Jets were missing even more and moved the ball down the field easily.
Bucs Run Defense
There have been multiple failures by the Bucs run defense of late. They’ve been the best run-stopping defense over the last three seasons, yet they didn’t look like it on Sunday. The Jets gouged the Bucs in the ground game, to the tune of 150 yards on 26 attempts. The worst part of it all was that Jets ran on them from beginning to end. It started when Michael Carter ripped off a 55-yard run on their first drive, right after the Bucs made it a 4-point game late. New York moved all the way down the field mainly running it down the Bucs’ throats. Make no mistake about it, Tampa Bay got the stop on fourth-and-2 because the QB sneak was a bad play call. The Bucs didn’t do anything special.
LB Kevin Minter
A big reason why the Bucs couldn’t stop the run was because Minter was missing tackles. Minter looked slow and a step behind on many plays. Even after the defensive line would get a good push up front, Minter wasn’t there to clean it up and get the stop. It was the same in his pass coverage as well. The Bucs sure do miss Lavonte David. Minter finished the game with five tackles.
C Ryan Jensen
Bucs fans love Jensen for his aggressive nature, and it’s usually a good thing for Tampa Bay. It wasn’t in this case, though, as Jensen was penalized for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Bucs’ first drive of the second half. It set them up with a third-and-20, essentially ending the Bucs chances of scoring on the opening drive. Jensen knows that he’s a target for the refs and can’t put himself in those situations.
CB Pierre Desir
Desir got some extended playing time due to Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting’s wild ride to the stadium today. With a huge opportunity in front of him, he didn’t deliver. Desir had a really bad missed tackle that would have been a tackle-for-loss on a run play. Also, he was picked on in the passing game as well. He recorded five tackles on the afternoon.
P Sterling Hofrichter
It was his second game as the punter for the Bucs, and in three punting opportunities, Hofrichter didn’t kick the ball particularly well on two of them. Kicking from the 48, he barely got the ball inside the 20, landing at the 17. Then he had the whole field ahead of him on his next kick and only punted it 39 yards. Not the best game for the interim Bucs punter with Bradley Pinion out.