Inconsistent Bucs look inward with future hopes in balance

SANTA CLARA, California — Nothing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers did against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday was a humiliating 35-7 that knocked them down 6-7 and spoiled quarterback Tom Brady’s Bay Area homecoming. It didn’t go according to plan with the defeat — he played there for the second time in just 23 years.

Not the five goals conceding to a team led by rookie quarterback Brock Purdy in the first start of his career, or the 209 runs awarded to Christian McCaffrey & Co. – since coach Todd Bowles arrived in Tampa in 2019 after taking the lead once. second most goals. This team moved up to the #1 defensive position against the run.

Even once the Bucs reached the end zone – an 8-yard field goal from Brady to wide receiver Russell Gage – it was an accident as the intended goal was bounced off wide receiver Chris Godwin into Gage’s hands and it was necessary. comprehensive review by the authorities.

“We have to decide which team we want to be,” Bowles said. “We can’t be one group of Bucs and another group of Bucs. It has to mean something. … We either want it or we don’t. We can’t care more than anyone else. As a coach, you guys don’t go out on the field but we’ve fallen out of coaching, so we’re not exempt at all. In the game, too. We’ve been beaten. As a team, as a group, we have to get on our knees and decide what to do. Destiny is in the next few weeks.”

7-0 against rookie quarterbacks making their NFL debuts, Brady suffered the third-biggest defeat of his NFL career.

“They kicked our ass,” he said frankly.

Despite being under .500 a game, the Bucs have a one-game lead in the NFC South with four games left. They are the eighth team in NFL history to lead a league and hold a losing record after Week 14, according to ESPN Statistics & Info.

The offense, however, showed no signs of recovery with an average of 16.69 points per game, 29th in the league. And the defense – which needs to be perfect to account for the lack of scoring – could be even more inadequate after defensive tackle Vita Vea (calf stretch), corner brace Jamel Dean (toe) and outside defender Joe Tryon-Shoyinka (hip). ) all left with injuries. After the match, Vea and Dean were in walking boots. That’s on top of Pro Bowl nickel player Antoine Winfield Jr., safety Mike Edwards, and cornerer Sean Murphy-Bunting, who is currently sitting due to injuries.

The Bucs have only won two back-to-back games this year.

“We can’t be up and down like we’ve been all year,” Cam Brate said. “It’s tough man. It hurts. And it’s a little embarrassing for everyone to get the result we got today.”

That was the game they played on Sunday. Security Keanu Neal sacked Purdy in the first game of the game, but was called out due to unnecessary harshness. The Bucs wanted to score on the board with Ryan Succop’s 55-yard field goal when they first got the ball, but that was too short. On their second drive, Brady threw a 68-yard field goal at wide receiver Mike Evans, but was recalled for a holding penalty on left interception by league-leading Donovan Smith, who currently has 11 penalties in the season after picking up two. More Sunday.

“They’re devastating because we play Niners and Bucs,” Bowles said of the penalties. “We can’t beat two teams. We beat ourselves. Thank them. They beat us too. They have a good plan, but we beat ourselves. We make it harder.”

Frustration is also increasing.

With 5:10 remaining in the second quarter and the Niners leading 21-0, outside defender Anthony Nelson slammed the ball from wide receiver Deebo Samuel and inside defender Lavonte David recovered the ball, but Brady failed to hit Godwin or Evans. end zone.

“We don’t just make games,” Evans said. “We don’t make the games we used to do in previous years consistent. I don’t know what it is. We don’t connect like we usually do.”

Brady added: “I gave Mike a t—y shot. At the end of the day, it was a terrible shot, so I have to make it.”

When pointed out to Evans that the shot would be a touchdown and performed almost perfectly, Brady replied, “Yes, but … Yes, but … A lot has happened this year.”

Players say it’s not a function of not working together or lack of repetition. Brady rarely took the day off after Bowles initially said he would do it on Wednesdays. Julio Jones has been back since Week 8. Gage returned last week. The only receiving weapon missing was Breshad Perriman.

“We practice a lot together. We all practice a lot together,” Evans said. “It’s not training. I don’t know what others are, but it’s not training. We came here. We’re just so inconsistent and we’ve had a very unfortunate season so far.”

Brate added: “This year has been tough. The matchday execution wasn’t where it should have been. Obviously we’re a different team than we’ve been in the last few years – different strengths and weaknesses – we just need to find a way to move the ball consistently on Offense. It’s been a struggle for us. We just have to figure out how to do it.”

Protection remains an issue, but it gets worse without All-Pro right-hand tackle Tristan Wirfs, who missed the second week in a row with an ankle sprain. Although the offensive line didn’t give up a sack, Brady had a season-high hit eight times. Pressure rating was 23.2% (season’s third highest) and off-target percentage was 26.4% (season’s worst).

Agreeing with Bowles’ message, Smith said, “This is very frustrating. We need to find an answer and fix this ASAP. Anyway. Including me.” “He’s right. It’s all on us. From the very beginning, we were always told that this is our team and that we will go as far as we want. It’s time for us all to act, everyone in their lockers.” room.”

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