-Week One overreactions are an NFL tradition. This team stinks, that team is unbeatable, so-and-so is going to the Super Bowl. After the Bucs' season opening lost and their first game with quarterback Tom Brady at the helm, Tampa Bay is no stranger to the flurry of hot takes. But NFL.com's stat extraordinaire, Cynthia Frelund, is here to dispel any takes that Brady doesn’t have it anymore.
"There are many reasons that this is a totally ridiculous assertion, in my humble opinion. Yes, he had a rough debut for the Bucs vs. the Saints, throwing two interceptions (including a pick-six) in a 34-23 loss, but one thing that doesn't seem to be included in the hot takes I've heard coming out of that game is that New Orleans' defense is better than some people estimated prior to Sunday. That's an aside, though. As for insights on Brady, Next Gen Stats shows that he was far more effective vs. the Saints when he had a time to throw of 2.5-plus seconds. He had a passer rating of 61.4 and threw both of his INTs when he had less than 2.5 seconds to throw. When he had 2.5-plus seconds to throw, he passed for a touchdown, averaged 2.7 more yards per attempt (7.8 versus 5.1 when he had less than 2.5 seconds) and his passer rating was 101.9. Efficiency on quick passes has been a hallmark of Brady's career to date, which leads me to believe this one game will go down as an anomaly that time and reps with his new teammates will cure. Further, both INTs occurred when the Saints dropped seven or more defenders into coverage, per NGS. Brady has a long track record of diagnosing and beating coverage, further cementing my belief that we're witnessing a learning curve as opposed to a real trend."
If we can further that a bit more, the reason Brady did so much better with more time to throw is simply because he isn't used to this offense yet. It hasn't become second nature and perhaps requires a little bit more thought than he was used to after spending two decades in the same one. As the team continues to get game reps with each other in which everything is sped up, Brady's need for more time should go down.
-In fact, that's exactly what Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich had to say when asked what the Bucs need to do to avoid miscommunications during the game, such as Tampa Bay's first interception, which was intended for Mike Evans. It was an option route where Evans had to make a choice based on the defensive coverage he was seeing. On Thursday, Evans took full responsibility for misreading the coverage they were playing. The result was a ball thrown to a spot beyond where Evans had stopped. But things like that should work themselves out as both quarterback and receiver jell.
"Repping it, talking about it because every time these instances happen, it doesn't result in a bad play," Leftwich said. "Sometimes you have an opportunity where you can learn from something that didn't result in a bad play. I think both of those guys (Tom Brady and Mike Evans) have learned from that – we all learned from that. It gave me a great opportunity to teach through that play and use that play to teach through. That's football [and] that's always happened, even if you had all the OTAs and you had all the summer – if you still did all that, this early in the season you're still having these type of conversations because things somehow just happen in the game. Things come up different in the game and when they do, you try to learn through the instances and teach through team."
Brady then echoed the sentiment.
"I think that's part of just working on things, being on the field at the same time and just communicating through them," said Brady. "It's like anything – the longer you're together, the less you'll have to say certain things because you will already have experienced them, you will have talked about them and worked through them. There's a lot of black and white in football, and then there's a lot of grey. The problem is when there is too much grey – 'I thought one thing, you thought another.' Whoever is right or wrong, it doesn't matter. The reality is bad plays happen. When bad plays happen you put yourself in a non-advantageous position so we've got to eliminate as much as we can – 'I thought this, you thought that. You thought this, I thought that.' One time you're right, one time you're wrong. The reality is, the other team can't come away with the ball. That's going to keep us from scoring points. Keeping us from scoring points is going to keep us from winning games. You keep us from winning games – the whole issue is we're here to win games. That's why we're playing football. We've got to put ourselves in a good position on every play to figure out exactly where we're going to be, so we can all play with confidence and anticipation. You can practice and then I think that leads to great execution. You have confidence in one another, and once you have confidence in one another, you can really anticipate and you will make good plays."
Another thing that was potentially holding Evans back was a nagging hamstring injury that had kept him out of practice for the majority of the two weeks leading up to the game. He admitted he was a little behind in the game plan as a result. He was also playing through a lot of pain. He was told his injury couldn't be aggravated, but it would still hurt.
Sure enough, come gameday Evans was still feeling the effects but said as the game went on his hamstring loosened up and coupled with the adrenaline, the pain was faded into the background. Coming into this week, he feels a lot better.
"I feel good," Evans asserted. "I felt good enough to play last week, so that's no excuse. Obviously, I could've played better. This week I feel a lot better. Nobody ever plays at 100 percent anyway, especially if you're a good receiver. Nobody plays all the way at 100 percent. I'm close enough."
The offense wasn't the only unit to have homework this week. Despite a solid opening performance by the Bucs' defense in which they held the league's all-time leading passer to just 160 yards, 2019's leading receiver to just 17 yards and one of the most dynamic running backs in the league to a career-low 1.3 yard per carry average and 16 total rushing yards on 13 attempts, Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles is still looking for his players to improve.
"We can do a lot of things better," said Bowles. "We have to get turnovers, obviously. We can pressure the quarterback more, we can tackle better – there's a lot of things when you lose a ballgame that you have to get better at and we understand that as a group."
Bucs Tweet of the Day: Louder for the people still in the back.