Things are not looking good for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lately.
They’ve suffered two straight losses to drop their NFC South lead to one game.
Losing to the New Orleans Saints is understandable because they have a solid defense and a head coach who finds ways to win.
The Saints have also been the Buccaneers’ nemesis since last season.
Tom Brady’s entire media availability lasted 1 minute, 43 seconds. You can hear @gregauman ask him to stay longer. I asked if he could take us through how he was feeling. “I like to win,” he said. pic.twitter.com/DHXxvg021N
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) November 14, 2021
However, losing to the Washington Football Team is unacceptable.
Tampa Bay has the better roster on both sides, and Washington even lost Chase Young to injury.
Worst, that game came after their bye week, giving them more energy to play.
Instead, their match against Washington revealed glaring concerns that might impede the Buccaneers’ hopes for consecutive Super Bowl titles.
3. Their Defense Is Sleeping
The Buccaneers dominated the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV because of their pass rush.
Fast forward to the Washington game, and the Buccaneers registered five sacks.
Tampa Bay executed three-person rushes in some snaps while defensive lineman Vita Vea spied on Heinicke instead of getting a sack.
Washington receiver Terry McLaurin on the physicality of the Buccaneers defense: "They were hittin…hittin, hittin" pic.twitter.com/RAL5VEA6qE
— Post Sports (@PostSports) November 14, 2021
There were also instances when Vea dropped in coverage which is uncharacteristic for his skill set.
Yet the secondary is still the Buccaneers’ most significant concern on defense.
Since the #Bears scored three points against the Buccaneers' defense in Week 7, the Saints scored 29 points against the Bucs' defense with Jameis Winston/Trevor Siemian and Washington scored 29 with Taylor Heinicke, so …
— Mark Potash (@MarkPotash) November 14, 2021
Heinicke missed only six passes (26 of 32) for 256 yards and a touchdown.
He also set up Antonio Gibson for two rushing touchdowns.
Men would rather run against the Buccaneers defense than go to therapy
— Transitory (@DanielSingerS) November 14, 2021
Washington also converted 11 of 19 third-down attempts.
The Buccaneers’ defense showed serious flaws in a 19-play, 11-minute drive by Washington that sealed their comeback hopes.
2. The Run Game Is Non-Existent
Three weeks ago, the Buccaneers gained 182 rushing yards on 31 attempts against the Chicago Bears.
But in their two recent losses, their run game went nowhere.
The Buccaneers had 71 rushing yards and zero touchdowns in 14 carries against the Saints.
That number dropped to 53 against Washington, with Leonard Fournette leading the way with 47.
Legend has it Tom Brady is still throwing check downs to Leonard Fournette at FedEx Field
— MikeB (@TB_MikeB) November 14, 2021
Tampa Bay ran the ball only 13 times against their NFC East opponent.
In contrast, Washington had 94 yards and two touchdowns from the ground.
Establishing their run game provides balance for their offense and gives their receivers more room to operate.
They must find a way to revive it to maintain their devastating attack from all areas on the field.
1. Injuries Make Them Vulnerable
Aside from Murphy-Bunting’s, Davis’, and Sherman’s injuries, the Buccaneers also deal with significant absences on offense.
Before, the team could afford to lose those players because they had many weapons.
Bucs’ HC Bruce Arians ruled out Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski for Sunday’s game vs the WFT. Chris Godwin will be a pre-game decision.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 12, 2021
Now, it’s a necessity to have them back because Tampa Bay’s offense looks limited.
Brown and Gronkowski are reliable third down and red zone targets which Brady dearly missed against Washington.
Brady’s connection with his long-time tight end is deep in that they know what to do even without saying a word.
The Buccaneers need all the advantages they can get for the homestretch to guarantee their postseason return.