Where do we start off after a performance like that? The latest edition of Monday Night Football featured Tampa Bay for the second week in a row against the Los Angeles Rams. This was a good back and forth game all throughout, however, there were a few key drives in which the tide shifted. Turnovers by both quarterbacks will be the standard talking points, but there’s a different angle I will take for their latest matchup. Just a field goal is what separated these two teams in a 27-24 win for the Rams, which is good news for the Bucs.
For starters, I would like to give full credit to the Rams. They had an excellent game plan defensively and they executed it. They stuffed the run early and made Tampa throw the ball downfield all throughout the game. Bruce Arians stated he would not abandon the run so early again like he did against the Saints, but I can’t say that he stuck to his word. The Rams, since week 4, have been the most consistent defense in the league.
With that being said, Tom Brady has played against plenty of great defenses in his career, and it was not a surprise to anyone when he struggled on Monday Night. He looked off and missed on some throws that he usually hits on. He had two picks that were extremely bad, and another near pick that Mike Evans saved him from. There was also a potential fumble he had in the endzone that was ruled an incompletion, similar to the tuck rule. If they were to rule that one a fumble, the outcome of the game could have looked a little differently.
My thoughts on this are simple and can be seen all over the league: every play does not have to be a homerun play. It seems as if every play is called with the intention of scoring a touchdown, which just is not realistic. You can see this in Philadelphia with Doug Peterson and Carson Wentz. Wentz leads the league in turnovers, and still the run game is not established and it’s shot play after shot play. It looks great when it works, and leaves you scratching your head when it does not, which is more times than not when you go up against elite talents such as Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey.
Leonard Fournette dropped a few check down and screen passes that stalled out some of the drives with these costly mistakes, but the Rams did not seem worried by this. Since the Bucs have so many weapons offensively, defenses have to pick their poison when they defend. It has seemed that the RB duo led by Ronald Jones has been the poison most defenses have been picking lately.
Another reason in which you would want to continue to run the ball even when it seems as if things are not working is to keep it in the defensive coordinator’s head when he calls plays. If the Bucs continue to abandon the run early when things aren’t going well, they will continue to force Brady to throw the ball 45+ times which is not what needs to be done if this team wants to win. The amount of times throwing the ball isn’t the issue, but having some of these throws be shorter in distance is what Brady is more used to doing.
This may be a schematic issue for him, or just that he was missing his best offensive lineman Ali Marpet for the third straight week due to concussion. Maybe they were just outplayed by the better team, which is the more likely option as of now. We will see if they can run it back in the wild card round of the playoffs, but if not, then the Rams were just better all around.