The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, led by head coach Todd Bowles, experienced a rollercoaster season. After a promising 3-1 start, they faced a setback by losing six of seven games. However, the team’s resilience shone through as they closed out the regular season with a strong winning run and their playoff journey began with an incredible home win against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Unfortunately, the Buccaneers faced disappointment in the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Detroit Lions. Despite a competitive effort, they succumbed to a 31-23 defeat, concluding their playoff run. The loss also sparked eyebrows about Bowles’ move of not utilizing the final timeout.
Why did Todd Bowles give up against the Lions?
Todd Bowles faced intense scrutiny for his decision of mot calling a timeout in the closing moments of the game against the Lions. With 36 seconds left and one timeout in hand, many questioned why he didn’t stop the clock and force the rival to make a play on fourth as well as 12 from their own 32.
The HC defended his choice, emphasizing that it wasn’t about a “gentleman’s agreement” but a strategic calculation.
“It’s not a gentleman’s agreement..They were in field goal range. We’d have had 12 seconds, calculated, after using that timeout to come back from it. Then we’d have been down 11 points, so it’s kind of pointless. You kind of know when the game is over. The game was over”, he said.
The situation stemmed from a crucial interception by quarterback Baker Mayfield, leaving 1:33 on the clock for the Lions and Bucs with a timeout. However, the Lions didn’t take the full 40 seconds off the clock between kneel-downs. They avoided a decision for HC Dan Campbell on attempting a 49-yard field goal or punting.
Todd Bowles explained his perspective by questioning the utility of a timeout if it couldn’t be leveraged effectively. While a 49-yard field goal was no certainty, a miss could have given the Bucs an opportunity for a comeback. Nevertheless, this wasn’t the first time he opted not to use timeouts in critical situations. A similar decision occurred in the Bucs’ loss to the Cleveland Browns in 2022.
Todd Bowles discusses Baker Mayfield’s Bucs’ future
Baker Mayfield was not treated like a gem while he was with the Browns, but the Bucs didn’t make the mistake. Following Tom Brady’s retirement, the young star got the much-needed opportunity to be a franchise quarterback again, and he made full use of that.
Following the NFC divisional-round playoff loss to the Lions, Mayfield expressed his desire to stay with the Bucs. Todd Bowles echoed this sentiment by highlighting the QB’s importance to the team. As a free agent, Mayfield’s future with the team is uncertain. The looming factor of money, loyalty, and team dynamics will affect the terms of his next tenure with the franchise.
“I’m pretty sure he’d be in demand. I don’t know to what aspect he would be in demand. Obviously, money plays a lot of part of free agency and loyalty plays a lot of part in free agency, and who actually wants you and where you can go and what you can afford plays a lot, and how you see yourself in certain systems,” Bowles said.
Mayfield’s initial one-year $4 million deal plus $2 million in incentives served as a cost-effective acquisition for the Bucs. Still, as his performance reached new heights in completions (364), touchdowns (28), and passing yards (4,044) his market value is expected to soar in the upcoming free agency.
“It’ll be a tricky thing. He was great here, we love him to death. Hopefully it works out for us,” the HC added.
However, the Bucs are also cautious not to make the same mistake that the Browns did. Now, all they need is to adjust the financial condition to keep the explosive signal-caller in the squad.