A far too early end for Tom Brady and Buccaneers season

Tom Brady, Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady, Byron Leftwich, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Tom Brady is NOT coming back. This isn’t how Tom Brady wanted to go ‘out.’ And this isn’t how any of us wanted to see the season end for the Buccaneers.

Ryan Jensen’s first game this season wasn’t supposed to turn out this way either. And this isn’t what we wanted to see just two short seasons after a second Super Bowl win for this franchise. Although many of us had a feeling this would happen, the wind is still taken out of our sails.

Tom Brady is NOT coming back.  Let’s face it, many of us saw this coming weeks ago, but it’s still deflating none-the-less to see these guys go out like they did in the first round, for the most part over-matched and out-played. Did we expect to see anything different come from Byron Leftwich on the offense? Unfortunately, no. The reality is that Tom Brady is NOT coming back for one last hurrah, at least not with the Bucs – who really need to also move on.

Leftwich looks to be finally getting his walking papers, as was predicted. Many will defend him for various reasons, but his record speaks for itself, and yes, one bad season can get you fired. Of course, Todd Bowles had one bad season as well but will most likely be coming back as Head Coach next season, although he should be moved back into the position of Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator.

The past is now in the past so there’s no sense wallowing in the sorrow of this disappointing season. It’s time to ramp up for next season. The Bucs will now be picking 19th! (My prediction of right around 20th was way off, but I digress.) The nature of the NFL these days is about winning, and the Bucs need to get back to winning, not regressing as they did in the couple years after the 2002/2003 Super Bowl season. Leftwich is part of the collateral damage in this scenario, but hopefully he finds a new job soon and we wish him all the best wherever he lands.

With the prospect, and likelihood, of a Brady-less Buccaneers squad next season looming, it begs the question, who do they draft at 19? DB help is always needed. Both sides of the line. LB’s, and always OLB/DE’s. But let’s not forget (and we can’t) the elephant in the room, QB!

Will the Bucs go after Lamar Jackson? Derek Carr? Jared Goff? Tyler Huntley? Brock Purdy, Brissett or any other potential short or long(er)-term QB band-aid? Or do they go after one of the many potentially talented draft prospects who will be there at 19?

Whether they trade for or acquire one of the names listed above or not, the Bucs should strongly consider looking at a QB with their first pick for the future of the franchise. He could learn behind an experienced veteran for a year (or two) if they acquire a free agent, or even be the starter on day one. And that pick could (and should) be Stetson Bennett III from the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs. Not Anthony Richardson out of Florida. Not a bad choice, but he isn’t of the caliber of Bennett.

If that performance in the championship game showed anything, is that he is very mobile, accurate, intelligent, a good teammate and leader, has good character, and has enough of an arm to make the big plays. You know, what the Buccaneers (and any other team) would look for in a leader on the field, and possibly the next Mahomes, Burrow or Allen.

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Sure, there are a few more really talented QB’s that will also be available when the Bucs draft that would be good options as well, but Bennett has stood out as the better of the options. I would dare say could be better than Stroud, or Levis, and if the Bucs don’t jump on him if he’s there, it could be another missed opportunity like with Dalvin Cook, or a number of other players the Bucs missed out on over the years.

Whatever the Bucs do, they’ll also need to replace the players they are going to lose. Will Lavonte David leave to try and get one more ring elsewhere? Will Hicks be one and done here in pursuit of a ring he doesn’t have? Free agents will open up cap room and roster spots and this will be a different team from this year’s.

It’s time to move on. Rebuild, or actually, reboot! Major changes will be coming next season, some won’t be popular, some will be a long time coming. The Tom Brady era is over, and should be. The Bucs need to reload, re-evaluate, and realize they can’t and shouldn’t regress any further into NFL mediocrity. It may take a couple of years to get there, look at Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow or Trevor Lawrence, but it’s time to try and get the next captain to keep them sailing into the playoffs and beyond, for years to come.

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