Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady didn’t hide from deep ball issues going into Monday night’s game with the Los Angeles Rams.
“It’s definitely something we’ve got to hit,” Brady said in a press conference last week, per Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Stroud. “Our guys are doing a great job getting down the field and it’s my job to find them and hit them. You know, if you don’t hit them, they’re just long foul balls and we had a few of those last game.”
Brady has plenty of options with Pro Bowl wide receivers in Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans plus Pro Bowl tight end in Rob Gronkowski. All four of them have career-lows in yards per catch this season, however.
As Stroud noted, Brady went 1-13 on throws for 20 or more yards in the last three games. NBC Sports’ Michael David wrote that Brady’s average of 10.8 yards per completion is his lowest average in 18 years.
“[If] we take those shots, we’re going to have to be accurate with them and I know our guys are going to come up with them when I give them a good chance to catch the ball,” Brady said in a press conference last week, per Zach Goodall of Sports Illustrated’s All Bucs.
Some of the deep ball issues lie in philosophies. Bucs coach Bruce Arians likes the vertical passing game while Brady isn’t solely a gunslinger, Goodall noted.
Brady and company will have their hands full Monday night against the Rams (6-3), which rank in the top three for multiple defensive categories.
The Rams allow a league-low 296.4 yards per game, and they rank second for points allowed per game at 18.7. Teams mustered 199.7 yards passing per game against the Rams for second in the league in pass defense. The Rams rank fifth in rushing yards allowed per game, 96.8, but allowed the third-lowest total, 871 yards, thus far.
“Well, it’s a top 10 defense in every category,” Brady said in a press conference last week per NFL.com’s Michael Bacha. “Aaron Donald is as good as there is to probably have ever played in the National Football League on the defensive line. He’s an incredible player. Explosive, quick, powerful. It’s amazing the production he has even when people are double-teaming him, triple-teaming him. He never lets down. He’s a hard-working guy. You can tell football means a lot to him. But he really sparks that whole defense.”
“They’ve got some really good players that maybe some people haven’t heard of but they’re playing really well,” Brady added, per Bacha. “They’re fast, they attack, they’re aggressive, they’re in a good scheme. You don’t have a lot of time as a quarterback to sort things out because this D-line is on you so quick.”
Marpet Out Again
Tampa Bay’s offensive line will go without veteran lineman Ali Marpet for a third-straight game, which the team announced Sunday according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine.
Marpet endured a concussion against the New York Giants in Week 8 and hasn’t played since. Laine reported that he didn’t practice Nov. 20 due to concussion symptoms and was limited Nov. 21 in practice.
Center Ryan Jensen took over Marpet’s spot against the Carolina Panthers in Week 10, a 46-23 win for the Bucs. Fellow center A.Q. Shipley moved to Jensen’s spot for that game.
READ NEXT: Bruce Arians Sounds off on Primetime Woes