The Tampa Bay Buccaneers pushed Tom Brady around in a joint practice Wednesday. On Friday night, the New England quarterback hit back, carving up Tampa Bay’s first-team defense in a 25-21 New England win.
Brady had to leave Wednesday’s practice when Tampa Bay defensive end Adrian Clayborn pushed New England tackle Nate Solder into Brady’s knee. Brady had to leave practice, but it quickly was discovered that no damage was done.
Solder and the rest of New England’s offensive line protected Brady to a near-perfect night. At one point, New England had run 23 offensive plays while the Bucs had run only three. Brady finished 11-of-12 for 107 yards and one touchdown before leaving at the end of the first quarter.
Granted, the Bucs were without cornerback Darrelle Revis. But this defense has to improve dramatically for Tampa Bay to have a chance when these teams meet again in the third week of the regular season.
Some other quick observations on the Bucs:
As I mentioned above, Brady was well protected. That’s not good news for a Tampa Bay defense that wasn’t able to generate anything close to a pass rush. Coach Greg Schiano has been challenging Da’Quan Bowers to be an every-down player, and the Bucs have some other good young players on the defensive line. But the pass rush has to improve by the start of the regular season if Tampa Bay’s defense is going to be any good.
Speaking of pass rushes, the Patriots had one. They sacked Josh Freeman three times before he left the game at the end of the first quarter. Freeman completed 2-of-3 passes for 8 yards. Freeman didn’t have much of a chance, but he could have avoided the second sack if he hadn’t held on to the ball so long. Freeman never got into any sort of rhythm as the Bucs failed to move the ball while he was in the game.
Rookie Mike Glennon took over when Freeman left the game, and he had a little more success. Glennon completed 12-of-22 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns, but he also had an interception returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Running back Doug Martin got banged up in the first quarter and left the game with an unspecified injury. Rookie Mike James looked good at times after replacing Martin. The Bucs brought in veteran Peyton Hillis as insurance, and he showed he may have something left, meaning the Bucs have some quality depth in the backfield.