Why The Bucs Are Dangerous

January 3rd, 2023

Health and Bucs offense.

Joe is going to guess readers of this site are like Joe. If you got a dime for every time you heard a radio or TV talking head say something to the effect of, “Nobody wants to play the Bucs in the playoffs,” you’d have enough cash for a week-long bender in Vegas.

Yes, nobody has a resumé like Tom Brady. And yes, Joe understands, as Brady proved Sunday, he can rise up and fry a defense.

As good as Brady is, he can’t always put a team on his back. We’ve seen this year that, at times, Brady is mortal.

Now the pride of Seminole High School, Jeff Darlington of ESPN, was at the Bucs game yesterday as he often is — at home or on the road. One reason for this is no one in sports media has inside access to Brady like Darlington.

So Darlington put out a Twitter thread yesterday about why, when you hear folks say, “Nobody wants to play the Bucs in the playoffs,” that may not be empty talk.

Darlington’s missive here is very, very interesting. When Brady reported for training camp, Joe got a lot of feedback from readers how, as one JoeBucsFan.com reader put it, Brady was so “gaunt.” You could see his cheekbones sticking out and his face was hollowed out.

Had Brady lost so much weight (due to stress over his divorce?) that he lost zip on his long ball and perhaps that’s why the Bucs were so reluctant to throw deep and not play no-risk-it; no-biscuit?

Bucs coach Todd Bowles had said he didn’t want to run that offense because he thought it wore out his players, even on special teams. Joe always thought that rationale didn’t hold water. Was this just a smokescreen to protect Brady?

“At some point for postseason” is rather vague. What does that mean? Ryan Jensen can play in the Super Bowl? In the second round? In the first round a week from Sunday?

Last week Joe spoke with a couple of offensive linemen off the record about Jensen returning. Joe asked what the plan was, for example, would Robert Hainsey move to left guard and Nick Leverett would be benched? Or would Hainsey be benched?

The linemen Joe spoke to had no idea. They claimed the team had told them nothing. Now Joe wasn’t born yesterday. It’s quite possible players weren’t going to mention anything about the plans. But if the Bucs hadn’t mentioned anything to the linemen Joe spoke with about the dominos that would fall if Jensen is back to starting, that tells Joe that Jensen’s return may not be imminent.

Joe buys this. The way Chris Godwin played Sunday, damn if he didn’t look like the old Chris Godwin of last year. Godwin against the Stinking Panthers was a total workhorse catching all nine of his targeted passes. Save for a fumble, Godwin got good YAC and had an excellent game, he was just overshadowed by Mike Evans.

And Vita Vea is a critical key. The Bucs, when they have both Akiem Hicks and Vea starting, are 6-1 this year. If one of the two is missing, the Bucs are 2-7.

So yeah, Joe believes Darlington makes quite a few key points. Perhaps, just perhaps, Brady was in a short-passing, power-running offense because he lost touch on his long ball and he’s just now getting the strength to resume throwing long with success?

30 Responses to “Why The Bucs Are Dangerous”

  1. Wokeizdunn Says:

    I don’t really subscribe to the theory about the strength and weight. This may be true for an 80 year old grandma who just ended chemo in beating cancer and has been building strength to walk across the room…but not for an NFL QB…even an 79 year-old like Brady. I think the issue has been more in his head than his body (for good reason), and there have been/are divides for different reasons among other players and coaches. And of course, let’s not forget what has been on the mark in comments and articles all year…the coaching, game planning, and play calling…sucks. Last Sunday wasn’t a great game save for Brady and Evans getting on the same page, but it was much improved…did they have a “Come to Jesus” with the coaching, etc? I hope so. There is that word “hope” again. Do I have confidence in these coaches? He11 no.

  2. geno711 Says:

    Good article Joe.

    I agree with Darlington’s assessment a lot. Especially with the ever-strengthening knee of Chris Godwin. For whatever reason, Brady’s deep ball was the best it has been all season (Strength of arm, offensive line time given?). Gives me hope.

    Week to week individual player matchups can sometimes just make the difference on whether a team wins or loses. I feel like one of the differences that happened last week was the Panthers playing C.J. Henderson instead of J.C. Horn but all of that counts in the end. (JC way better than CJ)

    I believe I saw a poster complaining about the quality of quarterbacks that the Bucs were playing. You only play whoever is against you that week and these are all pro teams with quality guys on every team.

    If we’d have told you back in August that Brock Purdy vs Jarrett Stidham would be one of the most competitive, entertaining games of the NFL season…

    Could you imagine the posters complaining if our defense allowed either Stidham or Purdy having that good of game!!

  3. bob in valrico Says:

    If you think about it, If you get good play from 2-3 starters in all areas it can translate to a run in the playoffs. For Brady to be effective DS 76 has to up his game to a level that complements Wirfs. And since Brady had so much time on quite a few plays we got better play out the rest of the O line. The RB’s may not get five yards a carry but if they can get some well timed receptions of five yards or more to supplement it gives the defense a lot to think about. We also had the most effective use our big play WR,s.
    On defense SMB elevating his game give us three good corners. A healthy Winfield gives Bowles options at both safety and slot. DE’s are starting to play solid defense.
    I am gonna give Will Gholston a special mention. While Vea Hicks prevent a
    push from the O line Gholston functioned like an extra linebacker with 5 tackles and two TFL’s.

  4. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Only an idiot Coach would tell the lineman that there could be a change coming until they know for sure. Think about it. Do you want a guy thinking about losing his job or changing positions. It would only cause unnecessary confusion. They need to focus on the task at hand. Cross that bridge when u come to it.

  5. AbucAway Says:

    Because they keep shooting themselves in the foot?

  6. Defense Rules Says:

    Just took a look at Brady’s passing for this season & was surprised by a couple of things that popped up. For example, Brady only threw deep 95 times this season (essentially 6 times per game average), and only connected on 40 of them (2.5 deep completions per game average) … 42% completion rate. A number of them however drew DPI penalties, which IMO are just as good as a completion. Those would’ve brought the completion rate up to almost 50%.

    Brady hooked up with Evans more than anyone else, but that’s because he threw to Mike more than anyone else. What was shocking was that he rarely connected with Miller or Perriman, despite numerous attempts. That’s probably why both of them have virtually disappeared from the offensive plan on game days.

    One of the things that still fascinates me is the run-pass ratio. Bucs ran 366 times this season (a number of those were kneeldowns admittedly), passed 717 times, and took 22 sacks. Thus the Bucs average run-pass ratio is 33.1% on the season (lowest in the last 4 years BTW). Our record when we’ve run at a higher percentage than 33.1% is 5-2; when we run less than that it’s 3-6. I personally think our best game of the season was the Seahawks game; we ran 44 times that game … 59.5% of the plays. Next best game offensively IMO was the Dallas game; we ran 33 times that game … 53.2% of the plays.

    Not at all saying that Bucs need to become a running team like the Titans or Panthers (hasn’t worked out well for either one of them). However, when the running game is at least adequate, it really helps the other aspects of the game & keeps us from being 1-dimensional (as well as keeping the defense ‘fresher’).

  7. NEfan Says:

    DR, isn’t that common sense? You just can’t keep pounding the rock if the O is always going to be in 2nd & long. If it worked remotely I’d say stick with it but negative yards are negative yards, this game is about winning anyway you can. I would be surprised if the league average is 50% for long ball competitions.

  8. Dapostman Says:

    One safety over the top and the Bucs will struggle like they have all season. They hit 3 lottery tickets against Carolina. Don’t expect that the next game.

  9. teacherman777 Says:

    Hopefully we draft the biggest, baddest, nose tackle in the next draft.

    Vita Vea needs a sidekick.

    We need to keep building a great D-line.

    And please draft a legit swing tackle.

  10. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    From what I’ve been told chronic ma$turbation can wear out an arm.

  11. Bucswin Says:

    Save it for the post season. Just get into the dance.

  12. Goatfarmer Says:

    “The Bucs, when they have both Akiem Hicks and Vea starting, are 6-1 this year.”

    That’s impressive and significant. Hey Todd — maybe get a look at some other guys for the interior DL against the Foulclowns. Make sure those two are the healthiest they’ve been all year, ok?


  13. Defense Rules Says:

    NEfan … Common sense? If it was so common, there’d be a lot more of it.

    You apparently missed the first point: Brady ONLY threw deep 95 times in 16 games. Given that we’ve already had 1,105 plays that means he’s thrown deep on only 8.6% of our possessions. That’s low & what’s missing is our true deep threats. Gronk’s gone, AB’s gone, Miller & Perriman haven’t been catching diddly deep, so it all primarily rests on ME13 (CG14’s getting a bit more into that lately). Evans & Brady have done reasonably well connecting deep as far as I’m concerned. The problem is that Mike can’t do it alone; he needs other deep threats to keep the defenses honest. At least 3 deep balls thrown to him were intercepted, but several others drew DPIs, so they kinda counter-balance.

    With the run game not working very well in most games (I’m trying to be kind), Brady has thrown a lot more short passes. Those are a lot easier to defend if the defense knows that’s your only option (can’t run; can’t go deep?). Looks like most all our receivers’ YAC is way down this year too.

    The other thing that I keep seeing is the lack of the ‘intermediate ball’ (10-20 yards past the LOS). Chris Godwin was a beast in that area, and actually so was Mike Evans. This year? Not so much IMO. I suspect it’s probably because Brady doesn’t have adequate time to set up & throw on far too many passing attempts, but who knows.

  14. Joe Says:

    Do you want a guy thinking about losing his job or changing positions.

    When Joe first read this, he thought, “True.”

    Then again, coaches use this a lot for motivation.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    It’s complementary football! Everything is symbiotic. It makes perfect sense when you factor our inability to run, throw deep, and throw intermediate, the offense is going to suffer.
    As DR stated, losing key players has had an enormous effect on our passing game. Gronk, IMO, was the biggest factor because teams HAD to respect his pass-catching ability. That’s, your intermediate passing game. And what happens when a team can exploit that area of the field? Defenses start cheating up…and the long throws become more available.
    Lastly, you HAVE to have the threat of a run-game. ~30% just ain’t going to get it. This is arguably the biggest reason for our struggles, IMO.
    If teams KNOW what you’re going to do, it’s much easier to defend.

  16. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    motivation is all you need to play better

    The FOOTBALL GODS did gift the Bucs a playoff birth cause of how bad this division is………….and that’s a fact.

    I think all the players realize that they now have a “second chance”……and they are going to play their best football period!!!!


  17. geno711 Says:

    In hindsight all the people pushing for getting J.C. Tretter were correct. I feel like our run blocking would have been so much better.

    In hindsight, the Bucs biggest miss this season was giving 10 million to Russell Gage.

    They compounded that later by giving 6 million to Julio Jones and 2 million to Kyle Rudolph.

    Whoever was pushing to get those guys, whether Brady, Leftwich, Licht or someone else, I would not want to trust their assessment going forward.

  18. Bucschamp Says:

    Is it too late to sign Gronk back?

  19. George Says:

    There was nothing wrong with Brady all year . The line play has terrible and that is on Licht.

    The O line played well on Sunday and Brady had the time to make deeper throws .

    This is not rocket science.

  20. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    We all know Julio Jones is done and retiring after this season is over

    Russell Gage just cannot stay healthy and has at times flashed…but not enough

    What Brady really needs are two RELIABLE Tight Ends……

  21. Kentucky Buc Says:

    One would be nice. Gage is finally healthy. Made some nice catches. He could be big moving forward.

  22. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I agree, a healthy Gage is crucial……..he seems to be open in crunch situations……Mike & Chris covered……

  23. JimmyfromNY Says:

    Do you know why the Bucs have a chance to win? Because they have the greatest of all time in the playoffs and absolutely no one wants to face him. I just saw this I don’t know if it’s exactly true he has more 10 point fourth-quarter come back this season than Aaron Rodgers has in his whole career. Absolutely incredible.

  24. rrsrq Says:

    Vea definitely had some sping in his foot to get to that loose ball, what will be CDIII status, we will need him vesus either, Cowboys or Eagles. I hope this is what we have been saving Julio for, January football, now you worrying about Godwin and Evans and here comes #6 (and #17). But mainly, here comes #12. ready and willing

  25. unbelievable Says:


    Except Purdy DID have that kind of day against us. In his first start no less…

  26. Ben Harvey Says:

    I dont mean to beat a dead horse but the rumors of Gronk making a return a couple weeks back but ultimately fell through got me thinking that perhaps he was waiting for the Bucs to clinch. Is it possible the Bucs sign Gronk this week?

  27. Tony Says:

    Of course the Bucs are dangerous. WE’VE GOT DONOVAN SMITH STARTING!

  28. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Exactly George!!

  29. james thweatt Says:

    Brady is the Goat. Remember one thing about the GOAT he is a totally different animal in the playoffs. Doesn’t matter what he did or didn’t do during regular season. Brady only has one mind set in playoff time and that’s to win another Ring.

  30. james thweatt Says:

    The BUCS can win another Superbowl with the talent they have. Brady is the main reason once playoffs starts he is totally different animal on the field.