TAMPA, FL – Still in full uniform, even after several of his teammates had already left for the night, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady stared dejectedly on the floor of his closet Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium.
With his arms bent and his face flushed red, Brady still wore the sting of a 27-22 Buck’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens – their fifth loss in the past six games – that dropped him to 3-5 as a rookie for the first time in his 23-year NFL career.
Backup Blaine Gabbert sat at his side, offering words of comfort, while fellow quarterback Ryan Griffin and quarterback coach Clyde Christensen took turns patting on the back.
“I know he’s really hard on himself,” said Tristan Wirves, facing Brady’s locker. “We’re all really hard on ourselves. We’re going to do everything we can to fix this thing because it’s not a pleasant feeling at the moment.”
“Nobody is pointing fingers at Tom Brady,” said Mike Evans, one of the recipients. “It’s a whole team. A team game. The best team game. It’s not just one player. It’s never been like that.”
Moments later, Brady took the stage.
“I don’t think you can erase what happened in the past eight weeks,” he said. “We have to dig deep, see what we’re up to, come to work, try to improve ourselves and give ourselves a better chance of winning.”
At 45 and in the final year of his contract with the Buccaneers, this could be his last NFL season, having already retired once for 40 days this season. It’s a fact that all his teammates are aware of, which made the Boss streak of losses in 2022 devastating.
“I hope he plays for as long as possible,” said Wives. “I’d love to play with him forever. I love Tom. I hope everything is as well as possible for him, if it’s his last year, or something else. We’re just trying to ball, and it’s frustrating when things don’t work out.” And you don’t have the answer in front of you.”
Evans added, “He’s the best ever. I mean he hates losing. That’s all he knows is winning and being 3-5 isn’t good enough, so we have to change it up and soon.”
They haven’t been able to put points on the board all season. They managed to score in a 1-yard touchdown run on the opening drive—the first TD opening drive of the year—and took a 10-3 lead in the first quarter. But they wouldn’t find the end zone again until 53 seconds left in regulation, when Brady found Julio Jones on an 8-yard strike. It was their first game of the season as Jones, who was supposed to play a big role in their attack, has missed the past three games with a knee injury.
On the defensive front, things collapsed in the second half after outside quarterback Chuck Barrett left the game with an Achilles tendon injury, which sources told ESPN the team feared could end their season. The Bucs gave up three times after that, and the offense just couldn’t keep up.
“It’s definitely tough,” said full-back Lafonte David of losing matches with Brady. “Just the things he’s won during his career. The kind of guy, the kind of guy, the kind of football player, the kind of leader – definitely tough. He feels the same feelings we do. Sure we have to try to change that thing because we have the guys to do that. But we have to. It comes from somewhere.”
The Bucs will have a long weekend to regroup, and coach Todd Bowles said the team will look into potential changes.
“We’ll be talking about everything this weekend,” Bulls said. “When you don’t play well, it’s all on the table for us, and we’ll discuss it as a crew.”
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