Forgiveness in the NFL is measured in yards and touchdowns, in victories and playoffs and championships. Can you help provide those? You are a changed man by the grace of football.
Antonio Brown can likely still help provide those, although neither he nor anybody else wearing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform did on Sunday night, as the Bucs were crushed by the New Orleans Saints, 38-3. Given how terrible the Bucs offense looked in the loss to another top-level team, one week after struggling against the New York Giants, it certainly looks like the Bucs need Brown to provide whatever he can for as long as he can.
How long that will be is, of course, the question looming over the biggest shotgun marriage of the season.
The Bucs are Browns’ fourth team in 20 months, which is a testament as much to his ability as to his instability. This was Brown’s first time on the field in more than a year, when he spent one game with the New England Patriots, quickly seeding a relationship with Tom Brady that the Bucs hope will bear fruit this season, without also sprouting headaches.
That Brown made almost no impact on the game should not be a surprise. Brady was under unrelenting duress from the Saints’ pass rush, the receivers were blanketed by defenders, and the Bucs were out of whack from the very start. Brady’s third interception of the night – a duck heaved into the middle of the field under pressure – was simply one of the worst passes Brady has ever thrown. This was Brady’s first regular season game with at least three interceptions since a week three loss to Buffalo in 2011, according to NFL Research. Even if Brown had been up to speed, he couldn’t have helped that.