CNN

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this.

When Tom Brady came out of retirement in March, his 23rd season in the NFL was to be a final celebration and an opportunity for the GOAT – the greatest of all time – to fight for an eighth Super Bowl title.

However, the first seven weeks haven’t gone to plan for the 45-year-old.

Brady and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers slipped to 3-4 on the year with a disastrous 21-3 loss to the lowly Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

Despite facing a team with an interim head coach, a backup quarterback under center and who traded their best player earlier in the week, Brady and the Bucs offense failed to score a touchdown as presumptive Super Bowl contenders slipped to a record under .500. .

Although the Bucs still sit atop the NFC South division, Brady has suffered humiliating losses to good and bad teams this season as what will likely be his final season goes from bad to worse.

After the loss, Brady said “nobody feels good about where we are, nobody feels good about the way we played or what we’re doing”, once again reiterating the need for his team to execute the details more accurately.

“We talked about execution the other day, and it always comes up. I think we all just have to do our job better,” he told the media.

“There is no easy solution. They try to stop us from doing our job, we try to do it, and they do a better job than us. Every time you score three points, that pretty much sums it up.

Brady has pondered his future in the NFL, suggesting in recent months that his second and presumably final retirement may not be far off.

With sideline flashes caught during games and reports of marital troubles, Brady’s typical fiery competitiveness sometimes seeped into anger and frustration.

For someone whose desire to win and drive has separated him from others, this is not the season he would have wanted to play.

Last week the Bucs lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 1-4. This week was a loss to the Panthers 1-5.

Brady passes the ball in the third quarter against the Panthers.

Sunday’s game couldn’t have started much worse for Brady. A laser from a pass to Mike Evans that would have been a walk-in touchdown on the first practice of the game was dropped. The Bucs’ first nine drives ended with six punts, a turnover on tries, one ending at halftime and a field goal.

Between struggling connections with his offensive weapons, a porous offensive line and a failing running game, the problems are piling up in Tampa.

According to ESPN, this is the first time since 2002 that Brady has a losing record after seven games in an NFL season.

Bucs head coach Todd Bowles admitted his team was not performing at optimal levels.

“We’re not playing well,” Bowles told the media. “We don’t play well as individuals, we don’t play well as a team, we don’t train well. In any case, we don’t score enough in attack and we don’t stop them enough in defense.

“And therefore, we have to wear this on our sleeve. They must be adult males. We’re going to see what we’re made of, how many people can handle adversity, and that’s about as dark as it’s going to get right now.

“Those guys who are going to step up are going to show up for training this week. Our leaders are going to lead, our coaches are going to coach and we’re just going to dig in and keep our heads down… We’re going to see what we have in the future, see how many fall apart in the dark and see how many people step in and start better play and train better.

Between Brady’s struggles — finishing with 290 passing yards on 49 attempts and no touchdowns — the struggles of the running game and the scarcity of the usually dominant defense, one might suggest this is the lowest moment in the time of Brady in Florida.

Strike out the NFL’s greatest player of all time at your peril, but digging that hole and solving all those problems would be one of the seven-time Super Bowl winner’s greatest accomplishments.

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