“Keep Swinging. Keep Mother-f—king Swinging”

January 6th, 2023

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The protection racket is a grim business.

For much of this season, the men paid to keep Tom Brady upright have heard and read a litany of their shortcomings. According to more than a few members of Buc Nation, Tampa Bay’s issues up front have been holding this offense back.

As the lazy narrative goes, Tom Brady was throwing quickly and throwing short because defenders were constantly in his grill. He wasn’t throwing deep because he didn’t have the time.

All that changed on Sunday against the Panthers.

On each of Brady’s three long TD throws to Mike Evans, no Carolina player came within a zip code of No. 12. His pocket was so clean, you couldn’t find a trace of lint. How about that? Just in time for the postseason, Brady has time to do damage down the field.

“We have a lot of pride,” says right guard Shaq Mason. “We take pride in protecting him. They got to him a few times, which we hate to see, but we’re striving to be better. We really haven’t gotten into our groove this year but we punched a ticket to the dance and now we’ve got everything in front of us.

Guard Shaq Mason talks to Ira.

“I don’t know why we make it so hard on ourselves, but we started the new year off right. The proof is in the pudding — if he gets a clean pocket, he’ll shred a defense. We know that, they know that as well. Overall, he had a good day at the office.”

The Bucs will kick off postseason play against the NFC East runner-up, either Philadelphia or Dallas. The focus will be on Tampa Bay’s offensive line because the Eagles and Cowboys rank 1-2 among NFC clubs in sacks.

Left guard Nick Leverett sets Ira straight.

With the benefit of an extra game, Philadelphia needs five sacks against the Giants Sunday to break the NFL record of 72 sacks set by the 1984 Bears.

“It’s a long, hard fight, but at the end of the day, we ain’t done,” says left guard Nick Leverett. “The first check is off the checklist, and we’re not done yet. Keep swinging. Keep mother-f—king swinging, no matter what. You get knocked down seven times, you get up eight. That’s been my mindset all year. It ain’t gonna be pretty but at the end of the day, keep swinging.”

While there’s no question Brady boasts an ultra-quick release, it’s nothing new. Mason saw the same fast trigger during his first five NFL seasons with Brady in New England. The fact remains that Brady tops the league by a wide margin with 716 pass attempts and has an NFL-low sack percentage (3.0) while taking every snap.

The All-Pro weighs in.

The question remains: does Brady deliver the ball quickly by design or by necessity?

“There were times Brady had all day in the pocket,” noted Panthers DE Brian Burns after last week’s matchup.

“Whatever happened the rest of the season, as frustrating as it was, it doesn’t matter now,” says Pro Bowl right tackle Tristan Wirfs. “We just make it hard on ourselves. I know all our guys up front take a lot of pride in pass protection because we do it quite a bit. Getting those huge plays was awesome. It felt like we hadn’t done that in a while.”

Wirfs and his linemates are charged with ensuring the safety of a 45-year-old quarterback. It’s a rather unique challenge that Wirfs may relate to his children one day.

“I’ll just tell them he’s an old dog,” he says. “I’ve loved every second of it. He’s a very special player, a very special person. He surprised me that his old ass threw, what was it, a 60-yard bomb?. Yeah, he surprises me. I love him to death.”

And it shows.

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Ira drives a 2020 Ford Escape (cherry red).

Ira with his good friend and JoeBucFan.com draft guru Sean Sullivan, general manager of Bill Currie Ford and host of the Best In Class podcast. Sean will help you personally in any way he can. Just ask!!!

12 Responses to ““Keep Swinging. Keep Mother-f—king Swinging””

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    It really doesn’t matter if anyone other than Brady thinks the Oline is providing enough protection…..it only matters what Brady thinks because he’s the one who reacts.
    I think he lacks confidence because our run blocking & play calling is so poor it puts us in 3rd & long situations….(likely passing)

    There are solutions to this….more play action on early downs…..shorter routes for receivers.

    Byron, do you be listening?

  2. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I love reading IRA’s articles.

    Tristan Wirfs will probably go down as one of the BEST draft picks in Buccaneers history……he just simply dominates the O-Line…..reminds me so much of Warren Sapp after we drafted him…..except without all the drama 🤣🤣🤣🤣.

    If Ryan Jensen comes back for the playoffs, then WATCH OUT NFL!!!!!

  3. #8's Ghost Says:

    Doesn’t getting knocked down 7 times & getting up eight times, mean you also got knocked down an 8th time?
    I’d prefer only having to get up 7 times please.

  4. PewterStiffArm Says:

    That’s my boy Ira, excellent article. There is a part of me that would rather face the Eagles than the Cowboys. I don’t like facing teams outside of your division for a second time in one year. We played the Cowboys the first game and they are an improved team. I don’t care if we could face the Eagles at home and the fact that they are the sack leaders, bring them on. It would be our quarterback against theirs, guess who I am picking. The Eagles have a great defense but I would put Tom and his experience against any scheme. Our friend Suh would love to step on Brady, Licht and Bowles.

  5. D-Rok Says:

    So the key to post-season success is giving Brady enough time to throw? As Mason said, give Brady enough time and he will shred almost any defense. Seems so simple, right? Just block longer and we win.

    Good article Ira and I’ve not ONCE ever questioned the heart of this O-line – they are fighters for sure, and I appreciate that. I just wish they were also maulers and pancake makers.

    GO BUCS!!!

  6. BillyBucco Says:

    Well let’s hope whatever “Personal” issues DS76 has are gone.
    Personally, I think it’s an excuse for playing bad, but he needs to step up and stop being a liability.

    It’s always been a laziness problem for him so it’s fixable.
    Playoffs are a different animal so look out if Jensen returns.

  7. Tim Says:

    It’s almost literally like they’re blocking for their dad, so to speak

  8. Goatfarmer Says:

    It helps to open your eyes while you’re swinging. Improves the chances that you actually cover the target.

  9. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Ira may be worthy of an Edward R. Murrow Award…like the Bucs…he appears to be playoff ready.

    Leverette has been clutch…3rd string, roster bubble guy to solid contributor. Trading for Mason has been huge…coming together at the right time. Wirfs is already building a perennial All Pro reputation.

    Bring on the descending Eagles I say…almost rather face them with Hurts wobbly than the Cowboys offense.

  10. Goatfarmer Says:

    I think I’m with Winny.

  11. SlyPirate Says:

    Losing Marpet, Jensen, and Gronk really showed how soft Smith is. We’re stuck with him one more year so we need to add some talent to LG.

    (BTW, Goedeke is hopeless)

    If I’m LIcht, I’m drafting: John Michael Schmidt out of Minnesotta in the 2nd and playing him at G. Dude is a beast and can play C.

  12. George Says:

    Excellent article Ira