When Bruce Arians retired so that Todd Bowles could take over as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he did so realizing that having a playoff contender led by Tom Brady was setting up his successor for immediate success in his well-deserved second chance to lead an NFL team.
That’s not untrue, but two weeks into his tenure, it’s Bowles’ defense that’s carrying the Bucs to victory, while Brady and the Tampa Bay offense continues to sputter.
To be fair to the GOAT, his unit has dealt with tons of personnel turnover and plenty of injuries already this season, which is no doubt impacting their ability to execute on game day.
All three interior spots on the offensive line have new faces, and two of the ones missing were Pro Bowlers in the injured Ryan Jensen and retired Ali Marpet. Brady was without starting left tackle Donovan Smith on Sunday, as well, and even backup Josh Wells went down with an injury in the first half, forcing third-stringer Brandon Walton to finish the game as Brady’s blindside protector. Chris Godwin and Julio Jones were out with injuries Sunday, and Mike Evans got ejected. By the end of Sunday’s game, Brady’s receivers were Russell Gage, Breshad Perriman, Scotty Miller, Jaelon Darden and undrafted practice squad rookie Kaylon Geiger.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
So, while Brady and the offense is still trying to find their footing, it’s Bowles and the dynamic, dominant Tampa Bay defense that has been setting the tone through two weeks.
Both of Tampa Bay’s victories have come on the road against NFC opponents, including their most bitter division rival. Through those two games, Bowles’ defense has given up just 13 points.
In Week 1, the Dallas Cowboys marched 54 yards on the opening drive of the game, finishing with a field goal. They didn’t score again for the rest of the game, and never made it past Tampa Bay’s 31-yard line all night long. In Sunday’s 20-10 win over the New Orleans Saints, the home team once again managed a field goal on an impressive opening drive, and didn’t score again until the final minutes, when the game was already well in hand for Tampa Bay. A garbage-time touchdown from the Saints barely kept the Bucs from going back-to-back games without allowing the opposing offense into the end zone.
Bowles defense racked up six sacks and five takeaways Sunday, with four of those turnovers coming in a nine-play span that completely turned the game around. With the offense banged up and frustrated, the defense came up with big play after big play, including a 68-yard pick-six from safety Mike Edwards that sealed the victory.
(AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Being an effective head coach is about making sure your players are prepared for the opponent, with the confidence and mental toughness to overcome any adversity that comes their way. Bowles’ Bucs have been dominant on his preferred side of the ball (he’s still calling the plays, too), and the offense has been able to shake off their struggles and make clutch plays in the second half that give the defense just enough breathing room to lock up the win.
Things might get more challenging for Bowles and the Tampa Bay defense over the next two weeks, as they host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in Week 3, then Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas Chiefs in Week 4. But don’t forget that Bowles’ defense has dominated both before, that was with Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.
At some point this season, the offense is likely to smooth out the rough edges, get healthier, and start humming like they have for most of the last two seasons with Brady at the helm. Once that happens, and it’s combined with Bowles’ suffocating defense, the Bucs might be unbeatable.
The Bucs might have the GOAT, but they’re winning because their new head coach has already put his own emphatic stamp on the team’s identity.
Sign up for the Bucs Wire newsletter to get our top stories in your inbox every morning
Sign up for our newsletter and get every update delivered to your inbox!
Please re-enter your email address.
You'll now receive the top Bucs Wire stories each day directly in your inbox.
© Copyright Bucs Wire 2023
Powered by WordPress.com VIP
Please enter an email address.
Thanks for signing up.
Please check your email for a confirmation.
Something went wrong.