Is the NFL ready to address racial bias in leadership?
USA TODAY Sports’ Nancy Armor provides insight into diversity conversations that took place at the NFL Owners Meeting.
Yes Gronk Come and save your boy.
On the other hand, as much as it stinks, another exit from tight end Rob Gronkowski might not be enough to save the planned Tom Brady Farewell Tour from ending in an outright train wreck.
Brady stumbled at Carolina in stunning fashion, losing 21-3, going under .500 in seven games for the first time since 2002. That’s a desperate matter for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster set to be in the Super Bowl roster as a contender.
Sure, there’s still time for corrections. The NFL season isn’t halfway through yet and the Bucs (3-4) still narrowly hold first place in the NFL’s worst league. We can’t forget the times when Brady was beaten in early-season contests — the post-Lawyer Milloy debacle and a punch in KC are two instances from his Patriots reign that come to mind — and ended up still having the Lombardi Trophy to elevate.
Brady, or TB12 in marketing terms, has become a seven-ring icon for defying the odds and showing resilience.
Let’s see if he can really walk on water.
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A week after being upset by the 1-4 Pittsburgh Steelers, Brady & Co. were turned upside down by the 1-5 Carolina Panthers. Maybe it’s not time to panic, but it’s definitely time to face despair.
Consider how Sunday’s first nine Bucs rides ended: Punt. Punt. Punt. Punt. halftime. Punt. sales down. Punt. field target.
Brady threw 49 times (far too many while the Bucs only had 16 rush attempts) for 290 yards. That’s only 5.9 yards per attempt, which is what happens when you complete a pass to a wide receiver no longer than 20 yards. His season mark of 6.6 yards per attempt is on track to become Brady’s lowest since… the aforementioned 2002 campaign.
The Bucs only converted 2 of 12 on the third down (1 of 3 on the fourth down), which is what happens when you lose. Brady has only been fired once, but that number is deceptive. He was beaten three more times and molested more.
Three points? From a crime led by Brady?
All of this might make some of us want to go to the bank and drop a pill.
Or go to the bench and curse the offensive line.
Oh, Brady has been trying that for the past few weeks and it hasn’t made much of a difference.
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Execution – not the former Bucs coach’s type John McKay is dead about then, silly – is the Football 101 topic Brady addressed during his post-game press conference on Sunday.
“It’s the NFL,” he said. “If you’re not doing your job well, it doesn’t matter who’s on the other side. It still comes down to the basics of the sport – throwing and catching, blocking, tackling. All the basics.”
Translation: Brady, 45, must be so embarrassed to end up on the wrong side of a quarterback matchup against backup PJ Walker a week after losing to a team quarterbacked by rookie Kenny Pickett and recently Mitchell Trubisky to the bench sat.
Next, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in a Thursday night primetime showcase.
What a strange year for Brady. He retired in February, then 40 days later without retiring. His gritty, offensive coach Bruce Arians, retired and handpicked defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to succeed him. Also know that with Arians eliminated, the heat has turned on Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
Add Gronkowski’s absence to the equation and it’s undoubtedly a factor related to the woeful red zone results (after 6 weeks at a 50% TD rate for 20th place in the NFL) that Brady got stuck. As good as full-back Mike Evans is, Gronk was just Brady’s top-notch security blanket near the goal-line – and a threat that opened up space for the likes of Evans and Chris Godwin. And now he’s gone.
Additionally, the O-Line has been on the move as three starters left from last year’s unit, including Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who was out early in training camp with a serious knee injury and has yet to return.
Then it got much more dramatic. Brady, as meticulous as they come, was taking a 12-day personal break from his training camp routine as reports swirled about the status of his marriage to supermodel Gisele Bundchen. In the last few weeks, the reports have only intensified.
It’s fair to wonder if Brady’s reported marital strife — given Bummel’s public statements over the past few years about concerns about Brady’s long-term health and particularly the risks associated with concussions — has anything to do with what’s not happening on the field .
On the other hand, Brady’s off-the-field situation flows with a larger theme: when it rains, it pours.