Thought and scribbles from the Buccaneers Debacle in Cleveland.
After the Browns had battled back to tie the game 17-17 late in the fourth quarter, coach Todd Bowles mismanaged the clock down the stretch, refusing to call a timeout until there were just eight seconds left in the game.
Bowles Leaves Two Timeouts On The Field
The Bucs got the ball back with 32 seconds to go, and Brady passed to Rachaad White for a one-yard gain. No timeout
The Bucs go to a no-huddle, and Brady hit Julio Jones for 26 yards to take the ball to the Browns forty eight-yard line with eight seconds to play. Finally, Bowles decides to use one timeout. Bowles should have used a timeout or two when the Browns were driving for their final touchdown.
Bowles tried to explain away why he pocketed the timeouts. “It could’ve been an interception as well. We said if we didn’t get yards on the first play, we wouldn’t call timeout. We would probably let the clock run. If he saw something, he could throw it. But we didn’t get any yards on the first play. We got 1 or 2 yards with Rachaad, and we were backed up.”
Bowles also admitted that they were playing for overtime, as he felt good about how the defense was playing. “We felt good going into overtime the way the defense was playing.”
This was the first time Tom Brady lost a game when his team had the lead with two minutes or less to play in regulation. Brady was 218-0 in his career, with the lead in the final two minutes before Sunday.
Some old bad habits reared their ugly head in the loss. There was poor special teams’ play and poor tackling by the defense. And the run defense decided to take the week off, allowing the Browns 189 yard on the ground.
The ability to convert on third down was again a problem for the offense as they were just 4/15 on third down conversions.
The Tom Brady Factor
Tom Brady was again just a bit off, with his receivers missing a couple of long balls to Mike Evans and throwing short a couple of times.
Overall, Brady’s numbers were decent, completing 29/43 passes for 246 yards and two touchdown passes. But he has been unable to put the team on his back and take them to a win as he did against the Rams earlier this season.
Brady has said the same thing after each loss this season. I’m tired of hearing the same BS. Why aren’t the problems on offense getting fixed? Why is there no fire and no sense of urgency with this team? As the leader of this team, why didn’t Brady take charge in the last 32 seconds and change the call? It couldn’t have ended any worse.
Bowles Struggles Continue With Clock Management
The Bucs and the coaching staff had two weeks to prepare for this game. You wonder what they were doing those two weeks.
After the game, Bowles talked about the disappointing loss. “This was tough. We had so much in all three phases that lost this ballgame.” Bowles also spoke about the poor return coverage on special teams, the poor tackling, and the offense going 4/15 on third downs.
Nowhere does he mention that the coaching staff, and himself, as the culprits in the loss. He did not talk about how he could have managed the clock much better by using the timeouts in the last two minutes, putting the team in a position to win.
This is nothing new for Todd Bowles. He was not known as a coach with excellent clock management ability when he coached the New York Jets.
The other concerning issue with this Bucs team is that they are playing with no emotion or sense of urgency at times. But, again, this is a reflection of the coaching staff.
It looked as if Mike Evans could have made more of an effort to catch a couple of balls thrown his way that ended up incomplete. Although when Byron Leftwich is calling the plays, it can leave you feeling a bit uninspired.
Mike Evans Adds To His Career Numbers
Mike Evans added to his Hall of Resume as he caught two balls for 31 yards on nine targets. Evans is only one of six players with 10,000 receiving yards in his career, and at least 75 touchdown catches.
This was a game the Bucs had no business losing, but when Todd Bowles is your coach, the unthinkable can happen. The Bucs are now 5-6 and remain in first place in the NFC South, with Atlanta losing to Washington 19-13.
With this loss, the Bucs have had three of the worst losses of the last decade this season. And all have been on the road. 21-3 at Carolina, 20-18 at Pittsburgh, and now 23-17 at Cleveland in OT.
Tristans Wirfs Injured
More significant than the loss to the Browns was the loss of Tristan Wirfs to an ankle injury. The injury occurred when Wirfs was blocking Jadeveon Clowney, and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu went airborne and landed on Wirf’s leg. Wirfs is expected to be out for three to four weeks.
We can look forward to Josh Wells at right tackle for the next month. YIKES!
This team is not good right now, and I don’t see them getting better anytime soon. They have shown us that the opening night win against Dallas and the game in Germany against Seattle were a mirage. They fooled us into thinking they were better than they were.
This game with the New Orleans Saints now takes on added significance Monday Night. It will be the first of many must-win games for the Buccaneers as they wind down the season.