Should Brady come back? Should Arians retire?A look back at the 2022 Tampa Bay campaign

TAMPA — We’re impulsive. We are very nervous.

We see the game, hear the quote, understand the trade and react. Sometimes happy, sometimes angry, each time filled with conviction. On the radio, at the corner bar, in the column, through social media.

We are sports fans. That’s what we do.

There is nothing wrong with that. Whether we argue or agree, the idea of ​​second-guessing — or making your decision ahead of time — is part of the joy of being a fan. If a big game doesn’t get your blood pumping, you might as well watch the History Channel.

But occasionally, perhaps rarely, we slow down and reflect. It’s not heartfelt joy, but there’s comfort in the effort. The end of a calendar year seems as good as any.

So let’s take a look back at the 10 biggest moments/decisions/stories of 2022 and make sense of them by looking back. It’s not quite Jimmy Stewart running over Bedford Falls in the snow, but it feels good to the soul. Our own version of It’s a Wonderful Sports Life.

10. Bucs lose to Rams 30-27 in divisional playoffs

At this moment: The game was tied and the Rams had no timeout on the Bucs 44 with 27 seconds left. The Buccaneers needed only to avoid an 18-20 yard catch to get to overtime, which would have given Los Angeles a chance to hit a field goal from 53 to 55 yards.

Then-defensive coordinator Todd Bowles called for zero blitz — meaning cornerbacks covering Cooper Kupp would instead rush to quarterback Matthew Stafford — which left Kupp with safety Antoine Winfield. to one.

Stafford, who had an absurd 139.6 passer grade in the 2021 Blitz, hit Kupp’s 44-yard field goal and set up a chipping field goal that ended Tampa Bay’s season.

then: Powers has been widely criticized for being too aggressive.

In hindsight: Nothing has changed. It still feels like a reckless play to the wrong receiver/quarterback.

9. Jeff Scott fired as USF football coach

At this moment: Less than 10 months after giving him a two-year extension, the Bulls fired Scott the day after a 54-28 loss to Temple. His three-year record at Fowler Avenue is 4-26.

then: The consensus was that Scott should go. It might even be overdue. On the other hand, I’d suggest that USF needs stability, not a sixth different coach in 15 years.

In hindsight: I’m wrong. It’s hard to defend an unsightly record like Scott’s. Alex Golesh has renewed enthusiasm at the helm. It must be noted, though, that Gleish is another young offensive coordinator with no head coaching experience. Just like Scott.

8. MLB kills Rays sister city plan

At this moment: The Rays risked angering Tampa Bay fans by spending a lot of time and money agreeing to a season plan with Montreal that was abruptly canceled by the MLB’s executive committee in January without explanation.

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then: Montreal was upset; Tampa Bay was overjoyed.

In hindsight: It’s clear that MLB owners believe the Rays are using the sister city program as leverage to secure significant public funding for a new stadium in Tampa Bay. When they realized the Rays were serious about the idea, they thought it was crazy.

7. Nick Paul and Brandon Hagel’s Lightning Trade

At this moment: Chargers general manager Julien Brisbois made two trades before the trade deadline, acquiring Hagel from the Blackhawks and Paul from the Senators despite little cap space. Tampa Bay gave up three young players (Boris Katchouk, Taylor Raddysh and Mathieu Joseph) and first-round picks in 2023 and 2024.

then: In the final 20 games of the regular season, neither Hagel nor Paul lit the scoreboard, and the Chargers actually fell from second to third in the Atlantic Division.

In hindsight: Wonderful action. Once they got used to Tampa Bay’s system, Paul and Hagel were a big part of another strong playoff run for the Chargers. And now, less than a year later, both are among Tampa Bay’s top five shooters.

6. Rays trade David Peralta and Jose Ciri

At this moment: The offense was in disarray, and the Rays lost their edge in the AL East. They went from 5.5 games after sunset on June 1 to 15.5 games after sunset on July 1. Instead of swaggering like they did when they traded Nelson Cruz in 2021, the Rays made two relatively low-key moves, acquiring Peralta from Arizona and Siri, a low-level minor league player from Houston.

then: That seems prudent, as the Rays are counting on Brandon Lowe, Wander Franco and Manuel Margot to return from injuries.

In hindsight: Missy. Peralta was disappointing, and Siri didn’t make a huge impact. The offense never bounced back and ended the season horribly inept in the wild-card series.

5. Buccaneers stay put after Ryan Jensen injury

At this moment: Re-signing Jansen is the Bucks’ top priority this offseason. The veteran center signed a three-year, $39 million deal after free agency opened. But then, on the second day of training camp, Jensen injured a ligament in his left knee during normal contact practice.

After losing guards Ali Mapet and Alex Capa in the offseason, the Buccaneers now face the problem of replacing all three big men. JC Tretter has been a durable and reliable center over the past five seasons as a salary-cap casualty in Cleveland.

Instead, the Buccaneers decided to give the job to remake tackle Robert Heinsey.

then: Seems like an odd move for a team that spent its last Super Bowl or semifinal with Tom Brady in the offseason

In hindsight: The offensive line has been Tampa Bay’s downfall in 2022. Too many injuries and not enough depth. As a result, offense has seen a historic decline from 2021 onwards. While Heinsey has been solid at center, he could have helped at other positions had the Buccaneers brought in an experienced center.

4. Ryan McDonagh traded to Predators

At this moment: Days after losing Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against Colorado, the Chargers traded one of their leaders for little in return. McDonagh, 33, is capped at $6.75 million and signed a four-year extension. McDonagh is an odd one, considering the Chargers are over the cap and still need to sign some other players.

then: Combined with the departure of Ondrej Palat, it feels like the end of an era for Tampa Bay.

In hindsight: It still stings, and Lightning Defense is still going on. But the Chargers were able to sign Mikhail Selgachev, Anthony Cirelli, Eric Cernak and Nick Paul, and make a long-term deal with the cap space saved in the McDonagh trade.

3. Bruce Arians unexpectedly announces retirement

At this moment: A little over two weeks after Tom Brady returned to Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers coach showed no signs he was considering resigning, and he abruptly retired. Arians said he wants to leave while the roster is still full of talent and Todd Bowles has a succession plan.

then: Arians’ explanation sounded a bit dodgy at the time. There have been plenty of rumors that Brady is unhappy with Arians’ lack of discipline in 2021.

In hindsight: It was the right move for Arians, who got off before the wheels came off, but a terrible move for the Buccaneers. We didn’t realize it at the time, but the offense was already in trouble. Too many defections, too many injuries and too many mileage on star players. Still, you can make a strong case that the Buccaneers are a better team with Arians on the sideline. The question is how much better?

2. Rays trade Austin Meadows

At this moment: After a 106-RBI season, the Rays traded Meadows to the Tigers for third baseman Isaac Paredes.

then: It wasn’t a popular move in the stands. Meadows is viewed by many as an integral part of Tampa Bay’s lineup. Rays fans are used to off-season makeovers, but this one came as a shock.

In hindsight: Another well-timed move from the front office. While his legacy numbers remain strong, the Rays recognize that Meadows is headed in the wrong direction. Paredes is younger, cheaper, more versatile, and hit 20 home runs on the sidelines.

1. Tom Brady changed his mind about retiring

At this moment: On the eve of becoming a free agent, Brady announced that he would be returning to the Buccaneers. Brady retired days after a playoff loss to the Rams, but later said he had “unfinished business.”

then: Universal delight. It doesn’t matter that Brady is turning 45 soon. It doesn’t matter that he seems to have opened the door for Bruce Arians to walk out. GOAT is back and the Bucs are suddenly a popular choice for Super Bowl contenders.

In hindsight: While there was still time for a miraculous comeback, it was a terrible miscalculation on Brady’s part. There was speculation — and a glimmer of evidence — that Brady wanted to play in Miami in 2022. Instead, he returned to Tampa Bay, his marriage fell apart during training camp, his offense fell apart around him, and he lost more games than anyone in his 22 seasons as an NFL starter.