Buccaneers vs. Panthers: Tom Brady’s probably final season continues to sour after a humiliating 21-3 loss to Carolina




CNN

It shouldn’t work like that.

When Tom Brady came out of retirement in March, his 23rd NFL season was meant to be one final celebration and an opportunity for the GOAT — the greatest of all time — to contend for an eighth Super Bowl title.

However, the first seven weeks did not go according to plan for the 45-year-old.

Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers slipped to 4-3 in a disastrous 21-3 loss to the modest Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Despite Brady and the Bucs offense going up against a team with an interim head coach and a backup quarterback under center and trading their best player earlier in the week, they failed to score a touchdown as the suspected Super Bowl Contenders for a record below .500 slipped .

Brady speaks with Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Nick Leverett before the game against the Carolina Panthers.

Although the Bucs are still at the top of the NFC South Division, Brady has suffered humiliating losses against both good teams and bad teams this season as what will likely be his last season continues to worsen.

After the loss, Brady said that “nobody has a good feeling about where we are, nobody feels good about how we played or what we’re doing,” reiterating the need for his team to execute details with more precision.

“We talked about the execution the other day, and it still happens. I think we all just have to do our job better,” he told the media.

“There is no easy way. They try to keep us from our work, we try to do it, and they do a better job than us. Every time you get three points, that pretty much sums it up.”

Brady has been mulling over his future in the NFL, and in recent months has hinted that his second, and presumably final, retirement may not be far off.

With fringe outbursts recorded during games and reports of marital troubles, Brady’s trademark fiery competitiveness has at times turned to anger and frustration.

For someone whose desire to win and drive is what sets him apart, this wasn’t the season he would have liked to get out of.

Last week, the Bucs lost 4-1 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. This week it was a loss to the 1-5 Panthers.

Brady passed the ball in the third quarter against the Panthers.

Sunday’s game couldn’t have started much worse for Brady. A laser of a pass to Mike Evans that would have been a walkable touchdown on the game’s opening drive was dropped. The Bucs’ first nine drives ended in six punts, a turnover on downs, a close at halftime and a field goal.

Between struggling connections with his offensive weapons, a leaky offensive line and a faltering running game, problems are piling up in Tampa.

According to ESPN, this is the first time since 2002 that Brady has had a losing tally after seven games in an NFL season.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles admitted his team didn’t perform at their best.

“We’re not playing well,” Bowles told the media. “We don’t play well as individuals, we don’t play well as a team, we don’t train well. All around – we don’t hit enough on offense and we don’t stop them enough on defense.

“And as a result, we have to wear that on our sleeve. They have to be grown men. We’ll see what we’re made of, how many people can handle adversity, and that’s about as bleak as it’s going to be right now.

“The guys who are going to move up will show up in training this week. Our leaders will lead, our coaches will coach and we’ll just dig and keep our heads down… We’ll see what we have going forward, see how many crumble in the dark and see how many people step up and get started to play better and train better.”

Between Brady’s struggles — which ended with 290 passing yards from 49 attempts and no touchdowns — the struggles of the game in progress and the lack of the normally dominant defense, one might suspect this is the lowest moment of Brady’s time in Florida.

Write off the greatest NFL player of all time at your own peril, but digging out of that hole and fixing all of these issues would be one of the greatest accomplishments of the seven-time Super Bowl winner of all time.