[OPINION] Tampa Bay’s 3-1 start is indicative of competition, not Tom Brady

The Tampa Theatre. Known for its frequent classical movie showings, famed elegance and immaculate architectural beauty, the Tampa was once rescued in 1978 and was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

Similarly, we witnessed one of the more impressive, nostalgic performances from a superstar quarterback on Sunday afternoon that I can recall. And man, was it a classical showing. I am sure Buccaneers fans share a familiar sentiment with their quarterback in regards to rescuing their franchise.

Tom Brady became the oldest player (43) to throw for 5 touchdowns in a single game, and each of them were to a different Buccaneer, also a first in his career.

At 43 (it sounds absurd even writing it), he is still doing things that no other quarterback has done in their pro career.

However, I am still not sold on Tampa being the favorite to win the NFC, much less make it to the playoffs as the winner of the NFC South.

You see, Tom Brady in Tampa feels a lot like your favorite Academy Award winning actor or actress suddenly appearing, at the end of their career, in a movie that landed in a Redbox kiosk or on Netflix instead of being the box office draw you once recognized them as.

I know. I sound like a hack after a performance like that. I get it. Another Rob Parker-like Tom Brady hater. But, the truth is, I have a high level of admiration for Brady as a person and for his career. We know his story, his career path; there is no need to repeat it. But, Tampa has faced Carolina (rebuilding), Denver (backup quarterback), and a Los Angeles Chargers team that featured rookie quarterback, Justin Herbert, and after Austin Ekler’s injury, was missing 11 of its projected 22 starters from this offseason.

Tampa should be 3-1.

If you paid close attention to the game Sunday, there was a stretch after Mike Evans went down completing his third reception around the 8-minute mark in the 1st quarter where the Buccaneers eerily resembled the Brady-led Patriots of last season.

Not to mention he threw his 3rd interception returned for a touchdown in his last 5 outings, while Evans was sidelined.

The Bucs are already without Pro-Bowl wide receiver, Chris Godwin (hamstring), and Leonard Fournette (ankle). On top of that, the team received worse news Sunday, as it was revealed that O.J. Howard could miss the remainder of the season with an Achilles injury suffered in the 4th quarter.

The one silver lining, if you will, to Howard’s injury is the depth at the tight end position, but do we really know if Rob Gronkowski can be the formidable option he was in New England? While he has been involved in 77% or more of the offensive snaps every week, through 4 games, he is still without a touchdown.

Sunday was fun to watch. It was a reminder of Tom’s greatness and could be regarded as his best regular season game in 3 years.

Yet still, Tom does not feel the same (and I am not referencing his jersey colors). Schematically, Tampa has the potential to overcome his shortcomings, but if they cannot get it done this year, and I am not buying it, then it is close curtain. End of story.

Next year – we will pick up his last-ditch effort on Redbox.

Jon Strait is a contributor for FOX Sports Central Alabama and RadioAlabama Sports covering the NFL.