The fallout from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ exit during the NFL playoffs has spectacularly continued, this time with the franchise deciding to part ways with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Safe to say, it is a decision that has earned the Bucs’ hierarchy a significant amount of criticism which begs the question: was it the right decision, or was the underwhelming performance of Tom Brady ultimately the reason why Leftwich was unfairly moved in?
First, let’s go back to the Bucs’ playoff exit at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. They joined the Bucs after being knocked out by the 49ers in the Divisional Round, who is priced at +300 in the latest Super Bowl betting odds. It’s fair to say that this defeat caused significant ripples in the Bucs’ boardroom in the sense that the powers that be felt that the Cowboys weren’t genuine Super Bowl contenders, which proved to be true only a week later. Put into even simpler terms: the Bucs’ hierarchy feels they should have beaten the Cowboys.
Naturally, not everyone shares this opinion but as initially touched on, the Bucs certainly do and that’s why the guillotine has fallen on the Gulf Coast. There have, however, been suggestions that seemingly grow louder with each passing day that focus on how the Bucs haven’t successfully addressed the actual cause of their NFL playoff elimination with the sacking of Leftwich. Fox Sports’ Shannon Sharpe has been the most outspoken on this issue and instead, has laid the blame for the Bucs’ premature exit at the foot of Brady’s door.
In his typically direct delivery, Sharpe states that the Bucs are looking for a scapegoat in order to shield Brady from any blame in the aftermath of their playoff loss. Is there any truth to the point Sharpe is trying to make?
The numbers don’t lie
When you take into account that Brady has, in all likelihood, played his last game for the Bucs with his contract coming to a natural end following the end of this season, it seems a stretch to say that the Bucs are reshuffling their coaching staff in order to appease the multiple Super Bowl winner. In short, Brady won’t be one of the quarterbacks reporting for preseason duty in Tampa in a few months’ time, which leads one to think that the Bucs are more focused on scoring a greater amount of touchdowns next campaign than they are trying to shield the 45-year-old from his detractors.
Moreover, further justification for the Bucs’ decision to let Leftwich go can be found in the stats from this campaign. Indeed, underneath Leftwich’s offensive management, the Bucs only managed 346.7 yards during each fixture, which leaves them at number 15 on the table for the best offense in the NFL. Whichever way you look at it, those aren’t title-winning numbers and categorically prove that there does seem to be a lack of fluidity and creativity in the Bucs’ attack.
Brady struggled but a change of strategy is right
Of course, it’s worth saying that Brady wasn’t at his devastating best this season but in general, the Bucs were in need of a fresh pair of eyes to look at their offensive line which does vindicate their decision to part ways with Leftwich.