TAMPA, Fla. - Antonio Brown is an example of what's plaguing the Bucs right now. Brown is one of eight starting players that have missed time this season due to injury.
Brown looks close to a returning, but his absence has weakened the NFL's most potent offense. The Bucs are 5-0 with Brown and 1-3 without.
"I think anytime you don’t have him, regardless of what week, like you’re talking about AB, so he brings that much to your football team," explained Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. "But at the same time, it’s the game of football. Guys are going to be in and out. That’s no excuse for us. We just have to do a better job really of executing and doing what we need to do to have more success, more positive plays down-in and down-out. That’s really what it comes down to."
Tom Brady has plenty of weapons to use, but there is a definite drop-off from a future Hall of Fame talent like Brown.
"We definitely miss him," stated Leonard Fournette. We know he's a deep threat. Not all that, He just makes plays. That's who he is. That's what he's been doing since Pittsburgh."
Jason Pierre-Paul knows something about winning Super Bowls. He's won two, one with the N.Y. Giants and the Bucs. He sees exactly what's ailing this team right now.
"I don’t think we have given any team our best shot yet – as a defense, offense and special teams," said Pierre-Paul. "We try to forget that we’re the Super Bowl champions, but you’ve got to understand that all 31 teams are looking to play their best game against us. Even if they’re sorry because there is no sorry team in the NFL. Any given Sunday a team could lose, easily. That’s why I don’t ever go off the hype or anything. You’ve got to actually go out there and play your best ball. I don’t think we’ve been playing our best ball, but we’re capable of playing our best ball. I think, right now, the whole team is trying to get in sync and play as one. Once we find a way to do that, then you’ll see the true Buccaneers come out. Everybody is going to give us their best shot. I knew that from the get-go since we came back in here. They’re going to give us their best. We’ve just got to figure out a way to give them our best shot – better now than never."