Did Todd Bowles Underestimate Dak Prescott?

September 11th, 2021

Todd Bowles

A lot of fingers were pointed at the Buccaneers’ secondary during and after the Bucs’ 31-29 thriller against Dallas at The Licht House on Thursday.

Deservedly so.

The Bucs’ pass defense was roasted by a quarterback coming off multiple injuries, a guy who hadn’t played in any kind of game since October and was lined up behind a depleted offensive line.

So what happened to the Bucs’ secondary?

Perhaps the loss of safety Jordan Whitehead before the game and cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting in the first quarter was just too much to overcome against a stout receiving corps.

But Joe can’t go there completely, and Joe agreed with Michael Clayton when he fingered the secondary as the Bucs’ weak link last week. That’s no insult on this loaded roster, though the GraveDiggers would disagree.

Tom Brady’s good friend and former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis bellowed on SiriusXM NFL Radio yesterday about how Dallas just set a new NFL standard for facing the Bucs —  screw the running game, even if you have Ezekiel Elliot, and just come after Tampa Bay’s pass defense.

Weis stated the obvious saying Dallas did very well attacking the Bucs’ “weakness” (his word) in various ways.

But more interesting to Joe was Weis maintaining the Bucs likely underestimated Prescott’s ability to play without rust and be mentally and physically sharp.

That affects playcalling and personnel usage, of course. So Joe actually hopes Weis is correct, that Todd Bowles wasn’t 100 percent prepared for what was coming.

It’s logical and it would bode well for the Bucs’ bouncing back very strong against Atlanta, which also is likely to throw the ball 50 times.

56 Responses to “Did Todd Bowles Underestimate Dak Prescott?”

  1. Buczilla Says:

    After Dak thrashed our defense, I’ll bump him up to above average, but I gotta see him play more before I’ll consider him a franchise QB. We all know that our secondary can play better, but they were putrid against Dallas and regressed big time over the summer.

  2. BerrickDrooks Says:

    idk why he kept blitzing 5 when we were getting killed with the dink and dunk …

  3. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    I wouldn’t say Bowles underestimated Dak. Our secondary is average and their O Line had an A+ game, washing guys down and bunching up our pass rush. The Cowboys are talented on all levels and well coached. Respect what they did and learn from it. I love Trask (Hainsey will determined down the road) but I’ve questioned the draft if we are going for two! Add some talent in the secondary! The only scare i have from the game is the amount of unnecessary snaps our veterans took. We must get off the field on 3rd down and control the time of possession better.

  4. crazybucs_CL Says:

    is nothing special about Todd B. He is just another coordinator that can be beaten like most of average DC in the NFL.
    they almost didn’t touch DP all game long….., and so much for being top D on “stopping the run” … they through for over 400 yard, and scored 29 points.
    Far from top defense on the league, more like …. most of the teams….
    ..is NOT “underestimating”, is just who they are.

  5. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Other than Vita, where was the DL and our vaunted pass rush?

  6. Darin Says:

    Not a great plan at all by Smitty…I mean Bowles. He thought keeping them in front would mean turnovers by end of drives. Everyone in Tampa has seen that movie before. He called some bad games last year too. But came thru when it mattered most!! Turnovers in Buc territory played a big part too. And Dak played great gota tip the caps. A wins a win tho every other team has talent and they’re all bringing their A games.

  7. Medicated Pete Says:

    The Grave Diggers dug their own grave (don’t give yourself a nickname when you’ve played 8 good games as a unit). The Grave Spinners

  8. QBKilla Says:

    When facing the Cowboys top trio of receivers, every secondary in the league is a weakness.

  9. crazybucs_CL Says:

    Bowles is NOT Monte Kiffin, and his defense is NOT Monte’s defense…. not even close. I expect 90% of the wins to be TB12’s wins with high points scoring…maybe few games, not many, can be win by D. Same as last year. 🤷‍♂️

  10. SOEbuc Says:


    Yeah dline better come to play week 2.

  11. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    I suspect they did expect a more balanced rushing attack with Zeke. I for one was surprised. Without pressure, our secondary is average at best. Add on that practically every pass downfield is a PI call just waiting to happen in todays NFL…

  12. PassingThru Says:

    The Dallas OLine deserves props, they did a good job neutralizing the pass rush. They even covered for the absence of their Pro Bowl RG.

    What was disconcerting was the lack of adjustments made. Bear in mind that the depth chart of CBs was already paper-thin prior to the loss of Murphy-Bunting, but once he got injured things took a turn south. That lack of personnel handcuffed Bowles who dialed back the pass rush, but what really allowed Dak to get hot was the amount of padding being given to the Dallas WRs. My best guess was that they were in “bend but don’t break” mode of defense.

    Dak was allowed to heat up, but those turnovers on offense really helped Dallas and kept the game unnecessarily close. That wasn’t underestimating Dallas, that was playing Russian Roulette.

  13. Im not tired anymore we Super Bowl Champs!! Says:

    We all know our weakness was the secondary yet we did nothing in the off season. So now we need to scheme better. Go Bucs!

  14. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Dak Prescott makes alot of secondaries look bad. The Bucs made 2 critical turnovers and had over 100 yards in penalties- clean that up and Bucs win by 15-20.

  15. Bojim Says:

    Agreed Alan.

  16. Conte Piscateli Says:

    I do believe the Bucs were expecting a bit more of a commitment to run by Dallas to protect Dak. Fact is their o line is top shelf and receivers are very good. First week of the season means you don’t have a ton of tape to prepare game plans. Our defense was best last year in the playoffs with game plans built to disrupt those teams offensive and it was beautiful. Don’t be surprised if we struggle with the Saints and Falcons the first time we play them this year. New quarterback and coaching staffs will lead to new game plans from both those teams

  17. Destinjohnny Says:

    Todd got out coached

  18. Dewey Selmon Says:

    Dak and the Cowboys did what Kansas City tried and failed in the SB. If KC had a decent OL the outcome might have been different. probably not though. last year was destiny.

  19. alton d green Says:

    I agree with most of you about Todd B. He waits too long to make adjustments, if at all. But here’s one little point. They’d better fix that pass protection or they will not repeat. They could be watching the playoffs from the couch. But just remember where we were last year. I’ve see Tom carry a defense many times. All he does is outscore the other team. BUT we need to catch the damn ball and stop fumbling

  20. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    a guy who hadn’t played in any kind of game since October and was lined up behind a depleted offensive line.

    Seems like Bowles isn’t the only one who underestimated Dak…

    He had a great game….and he’s not the first one who used quick short passes to beat our DBs……they have great WRs who got open….

    Good thing we have an offense & a kicker.

  21. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Since Bowles has been in Tampa, it seems as if there’s confusion in the secondary early in the season. I was hoping that it was a thing of the past, with all of the DB’s playing in the system for multiple years. Contested catches are one thing, but it seemed like Dallas players were wide open a lot, which makes me wonder if the “confusion factor” raised its ugly head again.

  22. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Did Todd Bowles underestimate Dak?

    He sure did.

    But so did Ira and one of the Joes.

  23. Biff Barker Says:

    The biggest surprise was our turnovers.

  24. NaplesBucsFan Says:

    BIFF BARKER…100%!!!!
    We gifted them to possessions inside our 30 and when the game could have been iced in the 4th, we gave them another present!!!! The D was gassed at that point in the game and I applaud them for getting the stop so Dallas ONLY got a FG.
    Our O doesn’t play Santa and that game would have gone very differently!!!

  25. NaplesBucsFan Says:

    Admittedly, the D was exposed when the pass rush couldn’t get there…but show me a team without an effective pass rush that could stop those Dallas receivers…most of the passes were 10yds or less meaning the ball came out quick and decisively.

  26. DaBux Says:

    Gravediggers must be Latin for “butter us we’re toast” because man oh man did Dallas and Dak make them look BURNT.

  27. DBS Says:

    By the second quarter everybody in the stands and at home knew they were not committed to the run. Our secondary other than a few good games has been the weakness. Anytime there is no pressure they get roasted and picked apart. We have no top tier CB’s on this team.

  28. BuccaneerButters Says:

    I sure underestimated Dak. After the first hard knocks episode, and the injuries with him and the line, I was expecting a multi sack night from several guys. Boy I was wrong, I ate crow. I admitted it. Just glad we won. I’m sure we’ll tighten up, looking forward to next week.

  29. Mickman Says:

    This has nothing to do with Dak. The only reason the game was even close was because of the 4 turnovers. Otherwise the game would have been a win by at least 10 points.

  30. Colonel Angus Says:

    Typical post week 1 overreaction, aka overreaction Monday (except we played Thursday because we are the Champs!). Bowles and this Defense will get it corrected. And the Cowboys have a top tier passing attack when Dak is healthy. No need to panic yet. Now if we are giving up the booty come October, then we can panic a little. We still have Brady to outscore the opposition.

  31. Joe in Michigan Says:

    DoooshLaRue Says:
    September 11th, 2021 at 7:05 pm
    Did Todd Bowles underestimate Dak?

    He sure did.

    But so did Ira and one of the Joes.
    Like you underestimating the starting LT on a Super Bowl winning team? 🤔

  32. unbelievable Says:

    I think that would be bordering on negligence, if true.

    But I don’t believe that’s the case here. It’s week 1. No one is a finished product yet.

  33. gp Says:

    Our defense is the best against the run by design. This makes our opponents offense one dimensional, again by design. That dimension just happens to be Dallas’ strength. Add to that the multiple turnovers and short fields and the result will be points. We definitely were playing off in the secondary to prevent any big chunk plays. Dallas moved the ball well between the twenty’s but when the field got short there was very little for Dak to aim for, the coverage got that tight.

    In short, the final score reflects the turnovers much more than poor play in our secondary.
    Can they get better/Do they need to be better? Absolutely! Just don’t put all the blame for Dallas’ point on their shoulders.

  34. firethecannons Says:

    The defense was put in bad field position multiple times. 2 fumbles and int in the red zone.

    Just read gp post above–agree completely. Hoping to see Todd Bowles tighten it up next game. The penaltes was what also killed us. It would of been way different game without the two fumbles and int.

    Amari Cooper is one of a kind , very under rated. He will have a blow out year if they stay healthy.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    Zeke is one of the better running backs in the league and Dak looked like a better QB than we have…at least Thursday night he did! We won as Brady said sometimes you gotta just get the win!! First game …we take a few days off and come back to put in work to get win #2! GO BUCS!

  36. fern Says:

    1st game of season everything falls into place week 4 you will see.

  37. Mike Johnson Says:

    I don’t like Dallas. But give’em credit. Dak and his boyz played a near perfect game. We were lucky to come away with this one. They were ready and had an excellent game plan. I think Bowles was as ready as he could be. Like Mike Tyson says, Everybody got a plan until they get hit in the mouth. We won. But Dallas actually looked pretty good. Cowboys were ready. We just had better special teams and a kicker…and Brady.

  38. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh Lordy, the sky is falling. Woe is us. Chicken Little’s at it again.

    I’m convinced this defense can play a LOT better than what we saw Thurs night. Four turnovers by our offense certainly didn’t do them any favors, and in reality Dallas got 12 of their 29 points off of 3 of those 4 turnovers. Cowboys got a TD & a FG off of 2 short fields after the first 2 TOs, but we let Dallas drive 60 yds for a FG to go ahead after Godwin’s fumble in the 4th qtr. Not a good look.

    Personally I was impressed with Prescott’s play, his OLine protection, and with his receivers. As long as Dak stays healthy, chances are pretty good that Dallas will have a winning season.

    I wasn’t impressed overall with our DLine play though, although Vea did a nice job and Shaq had a decent game with 1 sack, 3 QB pressures & a hurry. Suh & Gholston were both almost non-existent for some reason (in Suh’s case, maybe it had something to due with being on the COVID list?).

    What I still don’t get though is why we blitzed 61 times & only had 1 sack to show for it. Dak was obviously chewing us up underneath though (White was targeted 7 times with 7 completions, while LVD was targeted 6 times with 6 completions). Good strategy it seems like. Hope none of the other teams we play noticed.

  39. Buccos Says:

    Everyone is undefeated week 1. Everyone thinks this is their year and they will win the Super Bowl. Just winning in week 1 is a great accomplishment and puts us ahead of where we were last year. We are going to get everyone’s best shot. Our secondary already proved itself last year. They didn’t get much help from the pass rush. Dak was getting the ball out quick. Brady is still undefeated against the Cowgirls so I’m not sure how Dak could be considered a better QB. Respect is earned not given.

  40. gotbbucs Says:

    Early in the year offense is always ahead of the defense. It’s like this every year. The first 6 or 7 games of the year you see these big offensive numbers and high scores and usually by the end of October the offense comes back to earth and the defenses start getting in rhythm.

    Bowles tested Dak early and Dallas was smart enough to get the ball out of the QB’s hands and into the hands of their talented recievers. Pass rush just didn’t have time to get home.
    Second half we went back into a more coverage defense and let the front four start doing their thing and the rush started getting home.
    You’re not going to shut good offenses down in the middle of the field all the time, but when they got backed up they forced field goal attempts instead of TD’s, and that was the difference in the game.
    We still won the game with a -3 turnover ratio and giving up close to 500 yards of offense. Realistically, without the Jones fumble, Godwin fumble, and Fournette bonehead interception that’s easily a two+ score win. Defense gave up yards, but kept the damage minimal.
    A win’s a win. Turn the page to Atlanta.

  41. Wesley Says:

    They’re definitely our weakest link.

  42. Tackleblockwin Says:

    Did Bowles underestimate Dak?

    No he did not. And he called a pretty good game. We must consider what he had to work with (injuries) in the secondary. He prevented the long air yards. Our DBs did not have a great night, but they prevented the long TDS. We made Dallas work. He also did not underestimate Dallas’s WRs. We had 4 freakin turnovers, 3 that mattered on offense and still only allowed 29 points. Dallas had to work very hard for those points. We did not tackle well either.

  43. AtlBuc Says:

    They cannot count on us turning the ball over four times every week. Take those turnovers away and it’s a blowout

  44. Pine Hills Says:

    I seem to remember dozens of geniuses, two named Joe and one named Ira ,et al, tell me and my unwashed fellows that the NFL rules are heavily skewed towards the Long passing game.
    Lo and behold!!!
    Bucs still won.
    Now would you be so kind as to pass the soap

  45. Anonymous Says:

    Newsflash…. You don’t get style points for victories. The team you are all critiquing won. At this point that’s all that matters.

  46. BillyBucoff Says:

    I wonder how many times today Atlanta players think about Tampa next week before they even play?

    Just can’t see this team being any good.
    Problem is as mentioned our LBs didn’t break up a single pass and Pitts is dangerous.

    Bowles needs to adjust quicker regardless of our turnovers.
    He blitzed into throws all freaking night.

    We gotta start baiting teams into runs with OFF BALL LBs and 3 safeties.
    We missed Jordan Whitehead for sure.

  47. Wild Bill Says:

    Hey the Cowboys used the Brady style game plan and Bowles never adjusted. Dak got the ball out quick before the constant blitzes could sack him. Bowles never adjusted and left our dbs hung out to dry. Cowboys knew they are our weakest link and exploited it. So will more of our future opponents watching that game film. We don’t have shut down man coverage dbs. Quick passes negate strong pass rushers and expose average dbs. Dallas played a strength to weakness game plan and it worked very well. But the Bucs fumbleitus also kept the Cowboys in the game. Sloppy start for the Bucs.

  48. Mike Says:

    In watching that game, I was very disappointed in how J. Dean played. It seems if you run with him and break off your route, he is slow to react, and in some cases, doesn’t even seem to give much effort to try to close the gap on the receiver once they break, like the touchdown in the end zone he gave up. It was very poor effort on his part for sure. I hope that the Bucs coaches reamed him for that because it’s completely unacceptable.

  49. OrlandoBucFan Says:

    It may be that the Bucs underestimated Dak and the Cowboys due to Dak’s lack of playing time because of an injury and the Cowboys being down an offensive lineman. Apparently, Dak did not miss a beat. Before he went down last year, in games 2-4, Dak threw for over 400 yards in each of those games. In game 4 against Cleveland, he threw for over 500 yards, and that was against a team that would go to the playoffs. I am going to withhold judgment on the Bucs defense for now. We probably underestimated the Cowboys, but more importantly, they have a really dynamic passing game. It may be the best we face all year. We won not playing our best. If we clean up our act and reduce the turnovers and penalties, we’ll be just fine.

  50. Explodin’Turds Says:

    Everyone did.

  51. TOM Says:

    Look. Yes our CB’s except for Davis are average at best. As far as blaming losing Bunting, well to me he wasn’t doing much before his injury & his replacement wasn’t any better. Edwards did fine replacing Whitehead. And to me Prescott throwing screens & short passes has to show me more.

  52. bucsince79 aka bumaneer Says:

    1st game of year. Dak was $$ & has 3 very good receivers. KC passed the bal all game in the Super Bowl! How did that work out for them? We didn’t get enough pressure on Dak & he carved us up. They were very weak in the red zone. We won the damn game & it’s a big W…

  53. DavidBigBucFan99 Says:

    Did you see who’s defense was worse than ours? With far fewer snaps our offense still scored more and won. Though the defense struggled to stop them much, they did make Dallas work harder for their points and to me that’s still promising. We clean up the penalties and turnovers then we’ll be fine until we play a team with a good defense and offense. Atlanta is going to do the same thing next Sunday so you might as well be prepared for it. As long as the offense puts up 35 points we’ll have a chance to win.

  54. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Todd Bowles did not underestimate Dak Prescott, he overestimated his ability to get to him!
    ANY decent NFL Team will carve up a defense, if given enough time to pass.
    W/O our terrific pass rush, our middle of the road secondary was exposed for what it is.
    This is what happened to us against the Cowboys.

  55. Wild Bill Says:

    Bowles never adjusted his defense for the short quick pass game. No excuse because he sees Brady do the same thing all the time. Should have rushed five and played the pass.

  56. fish Says:

    I dont understand the soft coverage. that game should have been man press with 2 deep safeties. our pass rush never got to dak because he was able to throw the ball so quick. press the WR’s and give our dline a chance to get to dak. also i feel like with this crew we can still do decent against the run in our nickel package.