Tom Brady is back in a groove.
Following a stretch where the Buccaneers went 1-3, Tampa Bay has won its last three games, culminating with Saturday’s 47-7 win over the Lions.
Brady, who struggled during the four-game stretch, has looked like the Brady of old in the three games since the Buccaneers’ bye week. He’s thrown for 934 yards and eight touchdowns over the last three weeks, including Saturday’s game in which he threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of play.
Saturday’s drubbing of the Lions also clinched a playoff spot for the Buccaneers, marking their first playoff berth since 2007.
Brady’s play in recent weeks has earned him praise that he’s used to hearing after weeks of people wondering if this was the end of the line for him.
Former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall believes Brady and the Buccaneers are peaking at the right time.
“The Tampa Bay Bucs can play with anybody, especially with how Tom Brady threw the ball in that first half (against the Lions),” Marshall said on Fox Sports’ First Things First. “…The truth is, this team is the real deal.”
The Washington Post’s NFL columnist Adam Kilgore agrees with Marshall.
“Tom Brady is a marvel — and he’s starting to be a scary sight for the NFC,” Kilgore wrote. He noted the season-long struggles between Brady and Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians as a factor in their potential downfall. But Brady’s excellence and Tampa’s offensive talent may be too much for other teams to handle.
“Brady has won at least 10 games in 17 seasons, and as the Bucs clinched a berth he has made the playoffs 12 straight years,” Kilgore wrote.” The Bucs’ season has been uneven at times. That shouldn’t obscure Brady’s excellence.”
“We shouldn’t have expected Brady and the Buccaneers to steamroll through their schedule,” Morton wrote. “Aside from a change at quarterback, the team incorporated new faces in key spots and relied on youth to play through growing pains while in the starting lineup.”
Morton also recognized the injuries to receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at different points during the season. Rob Gronkowski took some time to get back to the level he was playing at before he sat out the 2019 season. And of course, the midseason acquisition of Antonio Brown threw a wrench into everyone trying to mesh together.
With all the talent the Buccaneers offense has, Morton writes that “we might see Brady play at an optimal level through the postseason.” After Saturday’s dominant win, Morton proclaimed that “Tom Brady once again poses a threat to every team seeking the Lombardi Trophy.”
Sporting News NFL columnist Vinnie Iyer took a different look at Saturday’s blowout win. He wrote that Brady and Gronkowski “get the last laugh” over Bill Belichick.
“Brady, meanwhile, saw the red and pewter carpet rolled out for him in Tampa Bay,” Iyer wrote. “[Buccaneers general manager] Jason Licht is a strong candidate for executive of the year, but really, Brady also was a pretty good GM, much better than Belichick in 2020. His needs for a new right tackle and more running back depth were met. Even with the Bucs’ strengths at tight end and wide receiver, he convinced them that both Gronkowski and Antonio Brown were necessary additions, which has been proved fortuitous.”
Iyer also believed that the pair needed to get out of New England in order to “have fun playing the game again.”
“The Bucs are reaching their potential of a video-game offense backed by a well-rounded defense, just in time for the playoffs,” Iyer wrote. “There also are some young and hungry personalities around them, which have been ideal for rejuvenating Brady and Gronkowski.”
No one seems to disagree that the Buccaneers have built a high-potent offense this season. They rank second in passing yards and are fifth in points scored this season. However, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky doesn’t think that will be enough for Brady to bring Tampa Bay its second Lombardi Trophy.
“Tampa Bay has just been too roller coaster-y,” Orlovsky said on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Monday. “I would believe that Green Bay’s defensive front can get after Tampa Bay’s offensive line. I don’t see anyone going in to beat Green Bay.”
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