By Alex Flemming
TAMPA, FL – Tampa Bay might be allergic to all of the lights. Of the 7 primetime games on the Tampa Bay schedule, they currently stand at 1-4, and have a very difficult matchup looming against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tom Brady is amazing when its a regularly scheduled game, throwing for 20 touchdowns to only 4 interceptions. But when it matters the most, some of his worst performances have reared its ugly head. Not to say that there isn’t plenty of blame to go around. The loss to the Los Angeles Rams is just a microcosm of the 2020 season, bad script, unimaginative play-calling, lack of running game, and missed opportunities. Not to mention, father time.
Rams Perspective: The Los Angeles Rams did what needed to be done to pull out a key victory in their playoff pursuit. Stuck in arguably the toughest division in football; the NFC West, the Rams committed to the running game by handing the ball off 20 times against the Bucs defense. Although they only gained 37 total rushing yards, it kept the defense honest and at bay (no pun intended). This, allowed the passing game to flourish under Jared Goff. Goff, who threw the ball 51 times, completed 76% of his passes for 376 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. More importantly, it kept the Tampa offense off of the field and allowed their two top wideouts to abuse the Buccaneers secondary.
Cooper Kupp had a field day in the first half, amassing 9 catches for 109 yards alone. He finished the bout with 11 receptions for 145 yards. Robert Woods shined on Monday night. He totaled 12 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. Bigger issue that’s being ignored, Goff completed passes to 9 different receivers; Tampa’s secondary were guessing and adjusting all night.
Jordan Fuller, who isn’t know to be a ballhawk, had two picks against Tom Brady. Overall, 6 passes were defended by the Ram’s secondary. The Ram’s only recorded 1 sack on the evening, but was constantly hitting Brady and disrupting plays all night. The pressure from Micheal Brockers, Troy Hill, Micah Kiser and of course Aaron Donald, eventually forced Tampa Bay to abandon the running game.
The Rams also took advantage of mismatches in the linebacking core. Cam Akers used speed and angles to outwit the linebacker for his lone reception that earned him a touchdown. With Kupp and Woods winning their individual matchups, time of possesion became a factor in the game. First downs matter.
Bucs Perspective: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have some offensive issues. Particularly, on the offensive line. Losing A.J. Shipley is just one of many contributing factors as to why the Buccaneers had an underwhelming performance. Donovan Smith was getting pushed around, and the absence of Ali Marpet didn’t help matters. Ronald Jones amassed 24 yards rushing. Leonard Fournette- 17 yards. A version of a jet sweep from Antonio Brown gained 1 yard. Overall, 42 yards on 18 attempts; that’s not going to beat the upper echelon teams in the NFL.
The Rams secondary was quite fiesty with the Buccaneer receiving core. Godwin and Evans each had a touchdown; and 102 yards between them. Antonio Brown had 8 receptions for 57 yards, but nothing deep. Speaking of dee, Tom Brady only completed 1 pass deeper than 15 yards. He was 1/9 for the evening. The tight ends for Tampa had 5 catches for 48 yards. Rob Grokowski and Cameron Brate had 10 total targets between them.
Overall, Brady struggled in the pocket. From time to time overthrew his receivers, didn’t allow the running game to take its toll on the Rams defense, and took chances that a former quarterback would have been second-guessed for; but this is the G.O.A.T we’re talking about; he will receive the least of the blame.
The defense didn’t record one sack for the game. While the Bucs D did provide two turnovers, they were never able to stop Goff from going through his progressions, slowing down Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods, unable to get key 3rd down stops (Rams punted 5 times), or maintain key field position. The 9 tackles for loss are great, but that’s a disposition of being on the field all night.
In closing, Tampa Bay enters their bye week after a Sunday matchup with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes has no love lost when it comes to Tom Brady, Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the game today, and a cheetah will be loose in Raymond James Sunday. Andy Reid is a coaches Coach, and Clyde Edwards-Hellaire will test the run defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. A fifth seed grants you the NFC East in the playoffs. A 6th seed, currently gives you Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson. Regardless, Tampa Bay enters into week 12 with more issues, than answers. They say money can’t buy you love. Then it would stand to say, that ‘talent’, can’t buy you victories.