Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is hopeful the team can address their sputtering season so far with a strong finish to the campaign.
The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in 2020 – Brady’s seventh, to extend his record – and won their first NFC South division title in 2021, with a 13-4 record, but while they again occupy top spot this season, they do so with a disappointing 5-6 record.
Ahead of the visit of division rivals the New Orleans Saints (4-8) on Monday night – live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.20am on Tuesday morning – Brady told reporters: “Football is a very humbling game for all of us. You can’t take anything for granted.”
December 6, 2022, 1:00am
“There’s times when I walk in there and think I’m the worst quarterback to ever play and that’s just the way it is. You try to go out there the next day and do a better job and you get it back. It’s just the way football goes.
“So, when you’re losing, everything is horrible and when you win, you think everything is great, even though not everything is great.
“There’s a long season ahead for all of us and still a lot of football left to be played and hopefully our best is ahead of us.”
He added: “Hope is not a strategy, so you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to do it.
“We’ve got six games and everything will be determined by what we do going forward, and I think that’s important for all of us to realise.
“Everyone, every team faces different adversities and we’ve faced quite a few in different ways. We’ve had some really great wins, we’ve had some really tough losses.
“No one likes the fact that we’re 5-6, believe me. We’re not celebrating any of that.
“The thing we can do about it is this week we can try to go out and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Brady enters Week 13 ranked fourth in the NFL in passing with 3,051 yards, placing the 45-year-old behind only Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. But the Bucs have averaged 18.2 points per game this season so far, scoring less than 24 points in 10 of 11 games and boast the lowest-ranked rushing offense in the league, per NFL Research.
And a visit of the Saints on Monday night is far from ideal, a defense that’s given Brady a hard time since he moved from the New England Patriots to Tampa Bay in 2020. New Orleans have won four-straight regular season contests in Tampa, including 38-3 in 2020 and 9-0 last year.
“We’re going against a team that’s a very good team, and they’re not going to let us off the hook,” Brady said. “They’re not going to give us touchdowns and give us easy runs and give us easy throws. They’re going to challenge us. That’s what they always do.”
He added: “We’re going to have to take care of the ball, we’re going to have to make the plays when they’re there.
“We’re not winning scoring zero points. We’re certainly not winning, probably, scoring three points. So we’re going to have to do a good job and hit the ones that are there.”
Tampa Bay has had the same offensive unit from last season, with stars like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Leonard Fournette leading the way. But injuries have played a factor in the offense’s struggles with each missing a game or two, including newcomers Julio Jones and Russell Gage.
Not helping their plight, All-Pro offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs is the latest to go down with an ankle injury in Week 12 and is expected to miss three or four games.
Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who has 17 sacks and 18 tackles for loss in 23 career games against the Bucs, emphasised that New Orleans’ previous success against Brady means nothing.
“You have a guy who knows how to win. You have a guy who wakes up in the morning and he just believes he’s going to win, right? So that’s our biggest opponent,” Jordan said.
“I have no idea in terms of analytics… but to us, every game is of the utmost importance. It’s dire to win this game.
“It doesn’t matter the opponent. Right now, we have to win or we’re going to be sitting the same place we were at the end of last year – outside of the playoffs. And that’s not where we want to be.
“We have a chance. We have to be able to capitalise upon that.”
Watch New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1.15am on Tuesday morning.