On the heels of a two-game losing streak, the Buccaneers return to action on Monday night against the Giants determined to get back to the level of play that helped them get off to the best start in franchise history.
Tom Brady hasn’t gone three straight games without a victory since 2002. However, he has just gone three straight weeks without a win. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first two-game losing streak of 2021 was sandwiched around the team’s bye week.
This means Brady and company haven’t tasted victory since a 38-3 demolition of the Bears in Week Seven completed a franchise-record 6-1 start. Losses at New Orleans and Washington haven’t cost the Buccaneers first place in the NFC South, but they have forced the team to do some introspection before starting down the stretch. Suffice it to say, there is a strong shared feeling that the Buccaneers have to get back on track sooner rather than later. “I think we have to change it and I think winning football is about doing the right thing as often as possible,” said Brady. “Everyone being on the same page, great communication and just giving the best effort as possible on every play. Things aren’t always going to be perfect out there, but you have to have as few as mistakes as possible. “I think there’s a real urgency for us to have it right.”
In the NFC South, the Buccaneers are one game up on the 5-4 New Orleans Saints, who will take an injury-riddled roster to Philadelphia this weekend to face the 4-6 Eagles. Tampa Bay will watch that game and the rest of Week 11 play out before playing host to the New York Giants on Monday night at Raymond James Stadium. After dropping a 29-19 decision to the 2-6 Football Team last Sunday, the Buccaneers now take on another NFC East underdog but they don’t expect overcoming the 3-6 Giants to be easy. New York has won two of its last three games, is coming off a bye, is likely to get Saquon Barkley back in action and – as every Tampa Bay player remembers – nearly upset the favored Bucs on Monday Night Football last year.
“We played this opponent last year and they gave us a big challenge,” said Brady. “I think they’re very talented offensively. They have a lot of good talent on their D-line especially. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, and we have to get back to playing the way we’re capable of playing. “There was plenty of frustration evident at the AdventHealth Training Center throughout the week after the disappointing loss at Washington. For Head Coach Bruce Arians, that feeling seemed to be centered around the fact that the Buccaneers had very good weeks of practice before each of their last two trips but then weren’t able to translate that to the field on game day. That’s a feeling the Buccaneers want to eliminate.
“It’s not nearly as fun putting all the work in and us trying to grind and get it right,” said Brady. “We’re not doing what it takes on the field in order to win. In order to do it right, you put in a lot of time and energy and detail into what we’re doing. It will feel a lot better when we win, but we have to go earn it and we’re going against a team that challenges you to do it.”
The Bucs have been heavy favorites in many of their games this year, and they’ve generally backed that up in home games, in which they are 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 22 points. They’ve also won each of their first three prime-time games. There are plenty of reasons to believe the Buccaneers can go on a second-half run and get back into the discussion for the top seed in the NFC, starting of course with the presence of Tom Brady. The Bucs have the NFL’s top passing attack, are scoring 31 points per game and have some key contributors likely returning from injuries soon. That could be as soon as Monday night for the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Sean Murphy-Bunting.
But the Buccaneers can’t count on all of those encouraging factors to simply coalesce into wins. “I actually have great teammates and great group of coaches and we’re going to work our butt off to get it right,” said Brady. “I think there are definitely things that we’ve done a good job of, but it’s identifying those things and then working at them. I think the expectations are high for a reason because we have a lot of talented players, and we know that we can play at a high level. We just have to go do it.”