Far too often, the truly great players in sports believe they have one more good season in them. One last hurrah, one last afternoon in the sun to hear the adoration from a full house. Michael Jordan thought that too. In a Washington Wizards uniform, fans looked at him and remembered what was, and with a shake of the head, looked at what he is now.
Quarterback Tom Brady is now in the unenvious position of being a legend who stuck around one season too long. No longer automatic as he was in New England, he now finds himself in unfamiliar waters. Fans of number 12 do too.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a preseason favorite to win the NFC and possibly even lock down an MVP Award. Seven weeks into the 2022 season, one of the NFL’s two oldest starting quarterbacks looks less like an MVP candidate, and more like the one of oldest starting quarterbacks in the league. With a record of 3-4, and coming off of an embarrassing loss on the road to Carolina, the writing is on the wall.
The Bucs rank 25th in the league with an average of 17.7 points per game with Brady averaging a remarkably mediocre six yards per attempt, and has a QBR ranking of 14. With the calendar showing November a week away, the always present time clock is ticking louder for Brady. His fatal flaw when making a bad decision to return for one last hurrah and content for a Super Bowl, has those odds now at two percent according to FiveThirtyEight. With Tampa Bay still on top of a stunningly average NFC South, a playoff run is still possible. When Brady took a long view of the division being winnable, and a good shot at a Lombardi Trophy, he could not have imagined that one of those “stunningly average” teams in the South would be his Buccaneers.
It’s a two-fold issue in Tampa. They have no run game to speak of, ranking a paltry 23rd in the league. Brady has been effective when the Bucs use play-action to cover for an ineffective running game. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich needs to open up a rushing attack that is the exact opposite of what former head coach Bruce Arians used.
Tom Brady throws his tablet in frustration. pic.twitter.com/d6QTX8dRyV
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 18, 2022
It’s become a sad watch as “Tommy Terrific” has become prone to temper tantrums, and dressing down his teammates in front of a national TV audience. He’s not happy, and the cracks in a once impenetrable armor are showing cracks.
Tom Brady with some words to his offensive line. pic.twitter.com/qBqjD7vfKg
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 16, 2022
The regret of coming back in 2022 won’t fade anytime soon. It will hang with him until the final gun of the final second of his last professional football game. Behind closed doors, alone with his thoughts, no one will be happier to see the close of the 2022 season than Tom Brady. The Hall of Fame is secure, as are all the rings and MVP honors that he’s earned along the way, as is his legacy as the top NFL quarterback of his generation. But this lost season in Tampa Bay won’t be easy to forget. He lost his pose, his swagger, and a little something from all the memories he’s provided. Unfortunate, yes, but often a lesson even the great ones need to learn. Brady learned that the hard way.