Skip to main content

O'HARA'S SCOUTING REPORT: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Playing one half of a game of good football was enough for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to get a win they needed to make the playoffs, but it wasn't enough to satisfy quarterback Tom Brady.

If the Bucs need to get where he wants them to go – making the postseason and then making a deep run – they have to play well for a full game.

The Bucs did not do that in last week's 31-27 road win over the Falcons.

The Bucs had to rally from a 17-0 deficit at halftime to win. The Falcons still had a 17-point lead (24-7) midway through the third quarter, but they couldn't hold off the Bucs' rally.

The win made the Bucs' won-loss record 9-5 going into Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Bucs are in solid position to make the playoffs as a wild card, but they are unlikely to overtake the Saints for the NFC South title. The Saints are 10-4 and have beaten the Bucs twice.

Brady's thoughts were not on the postseason when he spoke to the media after Sunday's road win. His concern was squarely on playing well for a full game, not a half.

"We're going to have to figure out how to play our best for 60 minutes as opposed to 30," he said. "It's a good win for us. Everybody loves winning.

"But we also want to play better. We want to play our best. This next week gives us an opportunity to try to play our best. It's a tough week because it's Christmas.

"We have to focus on what we've got to do. We worked pretty hard to get to this point, but there's still a lot left ahead of us."

The Bucs have not been as dominant as many expected them to be when Brady signed with them as a free agent after 20 seasons with the New England Patriots. Other star players such as tight end Rob Gronkowski, running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Antonio Brown followed him to Tampa.

While Brady's presence alone at age 43 and the support he has around him would indicate the Bucs win on offense alone, defense is a Bucs strength.

Linebacker Devin White had three sacks and four tackles for loss against the Falcons, and there is strength up front in Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh, the former Lion.

The Bucs have been overpoweringly good at times, average at times – and flat-out bad at times. There were elements of all those extremes in the Atlanta game.

Brady passed for 70 yards and was sacked twice in the first half as the Bucs were held scoreless. In the second half he exploded for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and he was sacked only twice.

Fournette was held to four yards on three carries in the first half. In the second half he had 11 carries for 45 yards and two TDs.

The offense also seemed to change its focus in the second half. Brady went to more quick drops and quick throws to counter Atlanta's pass rush.

He did not totally abandon the deep ball. He connected with Antonio Brown on a 46-yard pass for the winning touchdown with 6:19 left.

It was Brown's first touchdown of the season. Brady was happy to see Brown produce in a big moment. Brady was instrumental in the Bucs signing Brown.

"He's done a lot of work to get to this point," Brady said. "I'm just proud of him ... how he prioritized different things. He's making a real contribution."

The only problem Brown has caused is a good one. There are too many receiving options to make all the receivers happy at all times.

"As a quarterback, it's tough sometimes," Brady said. "You've got a lot of guys open. As a quarterback, there's one ball. You can't split it into three or four.

"You've got to try to use your reads. Whenever those guys get opportunities to make them (plays), they make them."

Related Content