Tom Brady rants, no one raves about Bucs offensive line

The quarterback blows up at his line during Sunday’s game and Todd Bowles says everything will be considered to improve blocking.
Published Oct. 17, 2022|Updated Oct. 17, 2022

TAMPA — Tom Brady’s voice raises several octaves when he is excited and his tongue can be sharp. He used it to pierce a few ears Sunday when he confronted the offensive line at Pittsburgh during an expletive-filled sideline rant.

“You’re much better than the way you’re ... playing!” Brady shouted at center Robert Hainsey, tackle Tristan Wirfs and other linemen. The tirade was captured by Fox cameras.

“I don’t know if it’s motivation, but I do think it’s a bad day when there’s more F-bombs than touchdowns,” Brady said Monday on his weekly Let’s Go! podcast.

“That was not one of my better days. They used to kind of keep from showing you those moments, but now it’s kind of for the world to see, so that’s just the way it is.”

Coach Todd Bowles said Monday that he will do anything to help the Bucs improve and move opponents in the kind of short-yardage situations they have failed at this season.

Rookie guard Luke Goedeke, the Bucs’ second-round pick from Central Michigan, has seemed to struggle the most, particularly in pass protection, against Pro Bowl defensive tackles such as the Falcons’ Grady Jarett and the Steelers’ Cameron Heyward.

“We’ve got the guys we’ve got and we’re happy with them,” Bowles said. “We just have to be better, play-wise. We’ve got to execute better. ... If we’ve got to change some things from an offensive scheme standpoint, we’ll do that. If we have to do something from a player standpoint, we’ll take a look at that as well. We’re trying to find the best solution, how we can get better in those areas.”

The Bucs expected growing pains after center Ryan Jensen sustained a significant knee injury the second day of training camp and was placed on injured reserve. The Bucs had already replaced retired Pro Bowl guard Ali Marpet by trading for Patriots guard Shaq Mason. Goedeke added to those changes and left tackle Donovan Smith missed two games with a hyperextended elbow.

The Bucs don’t have a ton of options on the roster. Nick Leverett has played at both guard and center. Brandon Walton, who started his first game at left tackle this season, practiced mostly at guard in training camp.

“We look at that every week with everybody, not just Luke,” Bowles said. “He’s not going to face any less competition; there’s going to be Pro Bowlers every week. It’s not just going to be four weeks, it’s going to be 16 weeks and he understands that. ... Can he get a lot better? Yes, he can get a lot better. But we’re happy with the things that he’s doing. He’s given up a few plays here and there but I wouldn’t single him out to be replaced, so to speak.”

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The Bucs’ biggest failures have come in short-yardage situations. They had second and goal at the Pittsburgh 1-yard line and failed to get into the end zone. Leonard Fournette was dropped for a 3-yard loss and Brady was sacked on the next play, forcing the Bucs to settle for one of four Ryan Succop field goals.

In the third quarter, the Bucs had first and goal at the Steelers’ 4-yard line. Brady threw incomplete and Wirfs was penalized for being an ineligible man downfield. Fournette lost 2 yards on the next play. Brady then fired incomplete twice to Russell Gage.

In addition to short-yardage situations, the Bucs have been bad in nearly every offensive category. They are last in the NFL in rushing, 20th in scoring, 22nd in total offense, 22nd on third down and tied for 21st in red-zone efficiency.

“I think we’re all playing less than we’re capable of and we’ve all got to look at ourselves in the mirror and figure out why,” Brady said Sunday.

It won’t be fixed in a day, Bowles suggested.

“Red zone, we get down there — and we had the ball down there several times — and either we get a false start or we get a penalty that pushes us back, or we miss a route here and there, we miss a block here and there,” he said. “Like I said, it’s a different guy. It’s the freakiest thing because that’s all we do in practice. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t carry over to Sunday.

“Short yardage is another topic we’ve got to get better at, offensively especially. ... We’ve got to understand what we’re doing to get 1 yard; then it becomes a toughness thing down there to get the yard.”

Bowles, who still serves as the defensive play-caller, said he has no plan to spend any time in the offensive meeting room with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“I always offer my opinion from a defensive standpoint, but I’m not an offensive coordinator to sit in there,” Bowles said. “We talk about that stuff all the time. That’s my job, to make sure they know that. But I’m a defensive guy; I’ll be in the defensive side of the ball.

“I think we can all get better, as a team, as players and as coaches. I think everybody’s been equally the same, which is not good enough.”

Until it is, Brady has plenty to rant and little to rave about.

“If I don’t feel like we’re living up to the expectations and playing up to the expectations that we’re capable, then (a tongue-lashing) is my job,” he said on his podcast.

“I’m the quarterback. I’m not expecting the right tackle to do it, I’m not expecting the running back to do it, I’m not expecting the receiver to do it. I’m expecting myself to do it. I’m the one out there speaking in the huddle, calling the plays. That’s what my job is, to try to get us going, to try to rally us.”

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.

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