Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady getting sacked on a blown one-on-one matchup merited constructive criticism.
FOX NFL analyst Jonathan Vilma, a former NFL player, did just that amid the Bucs’ 23-17 overtime loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, November 27. Vilma called out Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich for having tackle Donovan Smith block Browns 2-time All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett one-on-one in overtime right after the Bucs lost Pro Bowl tackle Tristan Wirfs. It led to Brady getting sacked and the Bucs punting the ball away, which gave Cleveland the ball for a game-winning drive.
“You are going to disrespect Myles Garrett by not chipping him or sliding protection over to him?” Vilma reacted during the broadcast as transcribed by JoeBucsFan.com. “He’s going to eat your lunch.”
“And that’s what he just did. You cannot just leave Donovan Smith one-on-one in overtime against one of the best defensive ends.”
Vilma wasn’t alone in his disgust. Benjamin Solak of The Ringer called out Leftwich (indirectly) and head coach Todd Bowles for how they “hurt their team” in the loss.
“Predictable play calling that neither maximized their talent or attacked the Browns’ weaknesses,” Solak tweeted. “Completely passive in key situations. Just embarrassing stuff.”
Bucs fans chimed in their own dismay as the #FireLeftwich hashtag gained steam on Twitter again. Fans also threw up the hashtag #FireBowles, too.
Bucs ‘Choked’, Columnist Says
Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano summed up the Bucs’ blown 17-10 lead and defeat before he could even get to the third paragraph of his column.
“They had the ball, they had the lead, they had the NFC South in their hip pocket,” Romano wrote. “And the Bucs choked.”
The Bucs led 17-10 for almost 14 minutes of the fourth quarter, and the offense had three drives to put the game away. All three ended in punts, and the Bucs made only one first down the whole quarter on a 4-yard run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn.
Cleveland meanwhile turned it over on downs once and punted the second time in its first two fourth quarter possessions. The Bucs’ special teams couldn’t save the sinking field position battle as Jake Camarda had to punt from the end zone.
Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett and company enjoyed comfortable field position from the Bucs’ 46-yard-line to go on a game-tying drive with 2:10 left in the game. The Bucs defense couldn’t get the stop.
“The truth is this team cannot be trusted,” Romano wrote. “Not with a lead, and not with your heart.”
Bowles Makes Concerning Comment After Defeat
When Bowles accounted for what happened after the loss, he said the issues stemmed from all three phases of the game.
“We had so much in all three phases that lost this ballgame,” Bowles told reporters. “We didn’t play smart. We didn’t play good football. We didn’t play sound football and we let things go.”
JoeBucsFan.com produced a strong take on Bowles’ statement and called it “coaching problems”.
“If the same things are happening time and again, either you have bad coaches or you have dumb players who don’t understand how to correct things.”
“Joe is following the breadcrumbs and it sure seems as if too many players have tuned out the coaches,” JoeBucsFan.com noted. “To be fair, the defense was not the problem today. You go on the road and hold your opponent to 17 points, that should be enough for a team with an offense loaded with stars.”