When I was on-the-air at WWSB (ABC) in Sarasota, Florida, covering the Buccaneers in the mid-1990s, I watched a Buccaneers QB who had a severe case of the “deer in the headlights syndrome.”
What does that mean, you say? It means when a QB comes to the line to take the snap, he’s so discombobulated and freaked out by the opposing defense that he looks like a “deer in the headlights.”
Explaining Bucs highlights on-the-air one Sunday night (see the above YouTube highlight) after a brutal game versus the Packers at Tampa Stadium in which Trent Dilfer threw a pick-6 to Green Bay Defensive Lineman Gabe Wilkins, who ran about 70 yards to the other end of the field for a touchdown, I blurted out: He’s got “Dilfer Syndrome!” The phrase has stuck with me ever since.
The most obvious of the current QBs is Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz and Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky; they both got one hell of a severe case of “Dilfer Syndrome”, for sure! Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield has a slight case as well as the likes of Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins and L.A.’s Jared Goff.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Seattle’s Russell Wilson who comes to the line and has absolutely no fear of the defense and doesn’t flinch when taking the snap from center. Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson doesn’t have it. And certainly, KC’s Patrick Mahomes doesn’t have it.
So, with all that being said, there have been instances this season when I saw Tom Brady with “Dilfer Syndrome.” I guess I never saw any fear in his eyes when he played for New England. But with his new team, I’m seeing more and more of it, especially this past game versus the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Brady seemed, and let’s be real about this, Bucs fans, he seemed out of sorts, out of his normalcy, not in his right frame of mind. I can go and on with clichés. But this is the current reality of Tom Brady.
So, why does he now have “Dilfer Syndrome?”
New team. 43-years-old. Knowing his playing days are coming to end. Lousy offensive line play. Tons of hurries. Lots of sacks. More off-the-field chatter by media & fans than in his past. Insurmountable far-fetched expectations. Whatever the causes or reasons, to me, it just looks like he’s old.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that Brady is a Buc! I mean, I spent about $180 on a new red Brady Bucs jersey and bought about 10 really cool new football cards of him, so I’m totally in on the new wave to see if he can turn Tampa Bay around.
But, as of this writing, the Bucs are 7-5, and it doesn’t look good. I’m not going to compare previous seasons to this one at this point in the season after 12 games. I’m just going to say that Tampa Bay’s offensive prowess needs to kick into gear because I just haven’t seen anything to impress me. This is not a playoff team at 7-5.
If Tampa Bay doesn’t make the playoffs, I’m thinking Brady will retire after this season. I hate to admit it, but it’s become seemingly more real as the season continues.
Oh, and for all of you Jameis Winston fans who think he would’ve fared better than Brady, we watched him for 5 seasons in Tampa Bay with a brutal case of “Dilfer Syndrome!” Winston’s case was so severe that when I watched him play for the Bucs, I often changed the phrase’s name to “Jameis Syndrome.”