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What Bucs QB Tom Brady learned from his ‘Champions for Charity’ experienceby Bailey Adams on May 27, 2020 at 10:30 pm
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images for The Match The G.O.A.T. had plenty of takeaways from his golf outing this past Sunday. This past Sunday, Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady took part in “The Match II: Champions for Charity,” teaming up with Phil Mickelson against Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods to raise money for COVID-19 relief. It was a fun afternoon all-around, especially for the record-setting audience watching from home. Averaging 5.8 million viewers across the different Turner Sports channels, the event was a big hit ratings-wise. And of course, raising $20 million was the bigger success. The Match was the most-watched Golf telecast in cable history.It raised $20 million for COVID-19 relief pic.twitter.com/EosCCwROIP— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 25, 2020 Whether you watched it yourself or have seen clips and/or jokes about it on Twitter, you probably know by now that it was not the best day on the course for Brady—and it’s also likely that you know he split his pants at one point during the afternoon. The six-time Super Bowl champion was off his game early, and although he did well to redeem himself with some big shots as the day progressed, his congratulatory tweet to Manning and Woods on Sunday night indicated that he was happy to be heading back to his day job. Of course, that day job is now “starting quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.” But before he fully transitions back to unofficial practices and/or team-affiliated activities, Brady took to Instagram on Wednesday to share his takeaways from Sunday’s event, which included plenty of humor: View this post on Instagram I learned a few lessons from this past weekend’s golf tournament with @philmickelson @tigerwoods and #Peyton...I had a lot of fun and grateful to be part of an event that raised a lot of money for Covid relief: 1. Amazing what happens when groups of people come together for the common good. 2. Peyton is still as clutch as ever. 3. I did not escape the inclement weather...heavy stuff...ALL DAY. 4. I shouldn’t wear the same pants to golf that I wear to church. 5. As great as @philmickelson is as a golfer, he is a better man, coach and teammate and potentially has the best calves on the PGA Tour. 6. I really enjoy golf...at halftime of football games we get checked for concussions, in golf, you get refreshments. 7. It was nice to be the young guy again. 8. @tigerwoods was a great host and champion, and I was especially thankful he missed that putt on the 7th hole...had he made it, I would have just went home. 9. I’m sticking to my day job A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on May 27, 2020 at 5:57am PDT There are some complimentary takeaways in there for all three of the legends he played with, but my personal favorites are as follows: “4. I shouldn’t wear the same pants to golf that I wear to church.” That’s some funny dad humor right there. I don’t care who you are. “6. I really enjoy golf... at halftime of football games we get checked for concussions, in golf, you get refreshments.” True. The two sports definitely have their differences, and it sounds like this is one that Brady likes the most. “7. It was nice to be the young guy again.” I hadn’t really thought about this until reading his post, but Brady was the youngest guy of the four competitors on Sunday, compared to Manning (44), Woods (45 in December) and Mickelson (50 in June). Hopefully the soon-to-be 43-year-old Brady didn’t get too used to being the youngster, though, as the next-oldest Buccaneer behind him is Ndamukong Suh, who turned 33 in January. And lastly, the final of my favorite takeaways... “9. I’m sticking to my day job.” As fun as it was seeing Brady compete on Sunday, it doesn’t compare to what it’ll be like when he takes the field in a Bucs uniform for the first time this fall.
Bucs Nation Roundtable: Which player’s development will mean the most in 2020?by Evan Winter on May 27, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports If these guys take the next step in 2020, then this team will be in good shape. The NFL is all about turnover and parity, so it’s an absolute must that coaching staffs know how to develop their players. Not only is it a big part of keeping a roster healthy and competitive, but the proper development from year-to-year will add a big boost to the overall performance of a team and it will also catch opponents off guard. I mean, think about it: How much tape did teams actually have on Ronald Jones II after his rookie year? I’m sure a lot of the things he did in 2019 caught opponents off guard because he took the proper steps development-wise in his second year. So, whose development will be most key to Tampa Bay’s success in 2020? We decided to take this question to the roundtable to figure this one out. Bailey: RB Ronald Jones II (Year 3) Before we get to my actual pick, I’m going to take you through my thought process. I was first tempted to go with Matt Gay here. I mean, when you’re in extreme win-now mode x1000000 like the Bucs are this year, you likely aren’t going very far without a reliable kicker. But if Gay doesn’t pan out early, his development won’t matter much, as the team would likely make a change at the position. I also considered Scotty Miller. He showed potential as a rookie in 2019 and he could figure into the plans a bit more in year two, but there are so many receiving options for Tom Brady to throw to. With Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate and possibly rookie Tyler Johnson (not to mention the running back group) all likely ahead of Miller in terms of targets, his development probably isn’t the MOST essential. So, I ultimately chose Ronald Jones. For the record, I was extremely impressed with Jones’ development from 2018 to 2019 and I think he is far better than people have given him credit for. But in 2020, he’s going to have to prove it on the field. In year three, he’s going to have to take the next step in the passing game. Jones’ abilities as a runner are probably the least of anyone’s worries, as Jones’ 724 rushing yards and 4.2 yards per carry in 2019 behind a bad run-blocking offensive line were pretty impressive. If the unit collectively gets better in the run game this year, I expect that he’ll more than take advantage. But where the biggest leaps need to happen are in the passing game. He averaged 10 yards per reception last year, catching 31 of his 40 targets for 309 yards, but the addition of Brady will put extra pressure on him—as well as the Bucs’ other running backs—to up their games a bit when it comes to producing as receivers out of the backfield. If Jones develops even further in that aspect of his game, he’ll be in for a massive season. But we can’t forget about the final aspect of being a reliable running back in the NFL. Jones’ pass-blocking has been the major stumbling block in terms of his ability to become a three-down back. And with such an emphasis being placed on protecting the soon-to-be 43-year-old Brady, Jones will have to step up in his pass pro. If he doesn’t, the Bucs will be forced to rely on the other guys in their backfield—which brings me to my final point. From Jason Licht down to Bruce Arians, the Bucs’ leaders have frequently expressed how much they trust Jones. And by letting Peyton Barber walk and then waiting until the third round to select a running back in this year’s draft, they let their actions match their words. Jones is their guy. So, that’s why his development in the passing game is so important. If he doesn’t step up, Tampa Bay will have to rely on rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn or Dare Ogunbowale more heavily, which would be risky. If RoJo becomes fully becomes the guy the Bucs drafted him to be, though, this offense could truly be unstoppable. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Ben: OT Donovan Smith (Year 6) One of the most important things needed for Tom Brady to have success this season is a strong offensive line. While in New England, his tackles played a huge part in his success. Drafting an offensive tackle was the number one priority for the Bucs as they traded up to select Tristan Wirfs with the 13th overall pick. This gives the Bucs an experienced left tackle and a right tackle who was arguably the best tackle in the draft. Smith allowed just five sacks last season which ranked 27th in the NFL. However, with Jameis Winston gone, there won't be a mobile quarterback who could get out of the pocket and make a play like Winston. At 42 years old (43 when the season starts), Tom Brady’s mobility is not all there and getting out of the pocket frequently will not work too well. Brady still finds ways to get out of the pocket at times and make plays nobody thinks he can, however it won't be happening all the time. Tom Brady’s accuracy with protection With the receiving core that has developed in Tampa Bay, giving Tom Brady time in the pocket will be more than dangerous. In New England, Brady benefited off of a ton of big plays that came from him having more than enough time in the pocket and a dump off to the running back or tight end that goes for 25+ yards. Throughout his NFL career, Smith has improved in each season that he has played. If Smith can continue to improve heading into the 2020 season, depending on how some other pieces of the line pan out, the Buccaneers could evolve into one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. With the expectations for the Bucs this season, Smith will need to play a huge role for the team to play in a Super Bowl in their hometown. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Chris: CB Carlton Davis (Year 3) While the media has now latched onto the Buccaneers as Super Bowl contenders, they mainly do so based on the addition of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and the overall firepower that this offense has to offer. What they often fail to discuss is the defense. It is no secret that the Bucs have had lackluster defenses over the years, mainly due to the secondary. We’ve all seen the game winning drives from all star quarterbacks, picking up 60-70 yards in only 50 seconds or less. My biggest concern is seeing average quarterbacks do the same, like Andy Dalton’s comeback against the Bucs in 2018. Well, I don’t foresee this happening as often as it has in the past now that this secondary has finally found some footing. With the release of Vernon Hargreaves III, the Buccaneers improved immensely, not only because he was often giving up big gains, but because we got to see Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting shine. However, with all of the talk about the rookie corners in this secondary, Carlton Davis III sort of flew under the radar and quietly had himself a much improved season. The third year corner out of Auburn had himself quite the sophomore campaign, racking up 19 passes defensed and his first NFL interception. While he improved immensely from his rookie season, he will need to take an even bigger step to ensure that every team’s number one receiver is locked down while Jamel and Sean work through the struggles that all young corners face. We saw him do this against Deandre Hopkins, arguably the best receiver in the NFL, and I hope to see the same in 2020. If he does, I think this defense will be one to be reckoned with. Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images David: OT Tristan Wirfs (Year 1) Of course the team’s first-round draft pick is important in terms of how successful the team might be in 2020. I think the same can be said every year for every first-round pick except for maybe Jordan Love. This year though, Tampa’s first-round pick has a little more riding on it than years past. Not only has Wirfs’ arrival signaled a changing of the...tackle on the right side of the offensive line, it’s coming at the same time the team is making a change at quarterback. Tom Brady is not Jameis Winston (duh). But there are some negative differences to go along with the positives. Winston is much more mobile than Brady has ever been, and certainly now on the cusp of 43. We aren’t going to see this Bucs quarterback escape some of the situations Winston did for the past five seasons. That fact alone puts a ton of pressure on the entire offensive line, and escalates the need for Wirfs to become an NFL caliber lineman faster than it would had the team moved forward with Winston. The predominant thought on Brady is, it’s best to pressure him up the middle. But believe me when I tell you, if Tristan Wirfs can’t secure the right side for Brady, he won’t have time to worry about pressure up the middle, and things could get knocked off track very quickly. It doesn’t matter how good your receivers are, or how improved your defense is from year one to year two. If your quarterback is firing under duress, it’s bad news for your team. Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports Evan: DT Vita Vea (Year 3) The mammoth defensive tackle made tremendous strides during his sophomore campaign after an injury scare during training camp. After last year, it was easy to see why Jason Licht decided to take Vea in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. He showed the power, explosiveness, and athleticism that defined his career at Washington while making plays on a routine basis throughout the 2019 season. His development was a major reason the Bucs finished with the league’s top-rated run defense, but he wasn’t just a run stuffer. Even though Vea finished with just 3 sacks on the season, he continually pushed the pocket and made life a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks and interior offensive linemen. According to Sports Info Solutions, he tied for fourth in the NFL among interior defensive linemen (who recorded at least 400+ pass rush snaps) with 39 total pressures. In fact, Vea finished with a higher pressure rate (8.5%) than DeForest Buckner (7.7%), Fletcher Cox (7.0%), Kenny Clark (8.4%), and Geno Atkins (6.9%) in 2019. Vea still hasn’t reached his ceiling, which is scary. If he continues to develop his game in 2020, then it will be a massive boom for the Bucs’ defense. He doesn’t even have to get to the quarterback in order to make life harder for opposing offenses. His presence alone will force teams to double him, which will continue to allow Shaquil Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and others to reach the quarterback. It will also take some pressure off of Barrett and Pierre-Paul, who will be relied upon heavily in their second year together. And all of that would obviously help a young secondary that will likely see some growing pains this year. It all starts up front in the NFL. It’ll be no different for Vea and the Bucs in 2020. Gil: HC Bruce Arians (Year 2) Head coach Bruce Arians doesn’t play on the field. But he most certainly has the biggest impact on the turf. Why? His coaching and the personnel he puts together will be huge. The so-called quarterback whisperer was unable to fix former quarterback Jameis Winston which was shocking considering the two had a mutual likeness and respect for each other. The plays that were allowed to be called at times by offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich were often questionable. The team looked like they were not prepared to play certain weeks. That’s all on coaching. That was all on Bruce Arians in 2019. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports When Arians signed on to coach the Buccaneers, there were reports and “feels” that he wouldn’t coach beyond a third year. If all true, that means this season’s end will already put him beyond the halfway point and based on that, what exactly has been accomplished? This season will present many challenges. He let his quarterback walk in free agency (right or wrong) so consistency on offense will now be a big question mark. That will try to be fixed by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, but that’s never guaranteed nor will they be around forever (maybe not even beyond 2020?). So consistency for the very near future will again be a potential issue. Factor in the reality of how the COVID-19 pandemic is limiting the team’s ability to come together to prepare for this season and Arians along with his staff will have a huge task in getting this team ready for any kind of success in 2020. However, it’s not just about the step Arians needs to take this year. That step taken has to be big enough to build the foundation for some kind of a future. Will that happen? Who knows. Many thought this team was already built for a run of success even before acquiring Brady. Success didn’t happen. Arians has a big job this season. Much bigger than even he may realize. James: CB Carlton Davis (Year 3) Carlton Davis is the “old vet” in the cornerback group now, which is wild to think about. However, someone has to establish themselves as “the man” in that room. While he, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting all showed flashes in 2019, there has to be the one guy to step up and assert themselves as the top dog. Davis has all the talent and ability to be able to stop - or at the very least, slow down - the likes of Michael Thomas and Julio Jones. It’s a matter of putting together everything he learned last season, having trust in the system, having trust in himself, and putting it all on film. He has to take the time and the effort to piece together all the great things he’s done and make that his game week in and week out. This team has shown they have no patience for players in the secondary that can’t make the leaps necessary to stop opposing receivers. Just because you were a day two pick doesn’t mean you’re safe. Vernon Hargreaves was drafted eleventh overall and was shown the door midway through last season. He didn’t “get it.” I believe Davis does. He’s just got to show the rest of the NFL that he’s a number one corner and he’s got to do it this season. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports Jon: CB Jamel Dean (Year 2) This is asking too much, I know, but it’s what needs to happen in my opinion. Jamel Dean is only just coming off his rookie season. He suffered multiple serious knee injuries in college, including a torn meniscus and two torn ACLs. Not to mention, possibly because of the massive lost development time, Dean was a project coming out of Auburn when the Bucs drafted him in the third round, with bad-to-sloppy technique and poor awareness. It’s too much too fast. But Dean flashed his rookie year. Despite only playing just under one-third of the defensive snaps last season — 230 less than Vernon Hargreaves despite Hargreaves being cut in early November — Dean still registered 17 pass deflections and two interceptions. Clearly, opposing offenses targeted Dean when he was on the field, and it was pretty up and down performance-wise. Lots of defended passes but also touchdowns allowed — no shame for a rookie, as most cornerbacks often take several seasons to mature. But with the acquisition of Tom Brady, the timeline for the Bucs to become a winning team has accelerated substantially, and that includes Dean’s — and other players — development. While Dean seemed to slowly get better every week he played, the Bucs can no longer afford to wait. Dean possesses incredible physical talent, which gives him a sky-high ceiling. He’s in the 81st and 92nd percentiles for height/height among corners respectively, as well as the 92nd, 95th, and 98th percentiles for broad/vertical jumps and the 40 yard dash, respectively. In short, Dean is a physical, explosive athletic freak. Carl Davis is a solid player and Sean Murhpy-Bunting looks like he could be a very good player. But this secondary is still missing that elite impact defender in the secondary, and nobody — corner or safety — has the athletic potential Dean has. If he can put it together, and I would argue this team needs him to, it could launch this pass defense into elite status. A team with an aging Tom Brady behind center could ride that kind of dominance deep into the playoffs. Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports Kyle: LB Devin White (Year 2) I went back and forth a bit on who needed to take the biggest step and ultimately it came down to Ronald Jones and Devin White for me. In the end, I had to lean towards White as he should begin blossoming into the quarterback of the defense. White was drafted 5th overall by the Buccaneers in the 2019 draft with expectations of him developing into a great linebacker. When you go back and look at Devin White’s 2019 season, there is a lot to like about the young LSU product when you take into account the rough start with injuries and playing catch-up for most of the season. With Tom Brady in town, there is going to be a new level of accountability and this is where I expect Devin White to shine brightest. White already has the physical tools to be an outstanding player, it’s why taking him 5th overall wasn’t a reach. With another very good offensive mind taking snaps this year for the Buccaneers, White should continue to grow and develop his skills in reading the offense and setting his teammates up for success. If Devin White can take the next step in his preparation and put himself and his teammates in better positions, there’s a great chance that he can help generate more turnovers and get the ball back to Tom Brady and the offense. With Brady in Tampa, the offense will be more efficient but that isn’t to say it will be more explosive. Less volatility will mean better starting position for the defense, but it still needs to do it’s job in stopping opposing offenses and creating turnovers for the offense to work with. The growth of young talented players like Vita Vea, Jamel Dean, and Carlton Davis to name a few, will rely partially on what the quarterback of this defense does pre-snap. Big growth from Devin White should mean big growth from the whole defense. Who needs to take the next step for the Bucs in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!
Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski ready to ‘fight any time, any place’ to keep WWE 24/7 Championshipby Bailey Adams on May 26, 2020 at 8:00 pm
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images In a promo on WWE’s Memorial Day edition of Monday Night Raw, Gronkowski took aim at 35-time 24/7 champion R-Truth. Think about the following statements and how odd they would’ve sounded even six months ago. The legendary Rob Gronkowski is back in the NFL after a year in retirement. OK, that’s not too odd. Let’s keep going. Gronkowski came out of retirement so that he could play for the Buccaneers, who had already signed Tom Brady. All right, now we’ve already gotten weird. But we’re not done. Gronk, a member of the Buccaneers alongside Brady, is now the longest-reigning WWE 24/7 champion ever. Granted, the championship only came into existence in 2019, but still. Yeah, this is all pretty weird. If you’re one of those “lol wrestling is fake” people, I’d advise you to stop reading right now. But if you’re open to reading about the dumb fun that is the WWE 24/7 Championship, welcome. Before returning to the NFL and getting traded to Tampa Bay, Gronkowski won the company’s 24/7 title back at Wrestlemania 36 on April 5. And he still has it. For an explanation of what literally any of this means, feel free to click here. So, nowadays, R-Truth, a 35-time 24/7 champion himself, has vowed to “get his baby back.” Back on May 10, Truth said he was going to sack Tom Brady and get his championship back. Of course, Truth is always confused, so he had everything mixed up, thinking that the G.O.A.T. had his title. Not to worry, though, as he was caught up by last night’s Memorial Day edition of Monday Night Raw. He now knows to target Gronkowski, not Brady. And while he thinks Gronk only has the championship because he beat Brady for it, at least he has the right person. Vince McMahon’s famed “sports entertainment,” everyone. Anyway, Gronkowski made an appearance on Monday Night Raw after R-Truth called him out. He shot back at Truth, even using his various names for the championship. For your viewing (or reading) pleasure, here’s what the Tampa Bay tight end had to say in his promo: The LONGEST-REIGNING #247Champion @RobGronkowski has quite the message for @RonKillings!#WWERaw pic.twitter.com/lw9UVvJg5f— WWE (@WWE) May 26, 2020 “Now, I’m a nice guy, so I’m just gonna make sure you’ve got all the intel you need during your quest. I am Gronk, WrestleMania 36 host with most, and reigning 24/7 champion. I know you have a lot of memories with this title and you fought hard for it, but that’s in the past, Truth. 24/7 Gronk is the present and the future. Sixteen years of playing football and growing up with four brothers have prepared me to fight any time and any place. So, this 24/7, 7/11, I-95 South, W-9, whole nine yards championship stays with me, brother. Take this as a warning, R-Truth. I will see you coming because I got eyes on the back of my head.” Gronk being Gronk. I really can’t wait to see how this plays out, y’all.
ESPN FPI projects win total, playoff chances for Bucs in 2020by Bailey Adams on May 26, 2020 at 5:50 pm
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports ESPN’s prediction model for the NFL likes Tampa Bay in 2020. The offseason love for the Buccaneers continued Tuesday when the ESPN Football Power Index (FPI) projections were released for the 2020 season. FPI has Tampa Bay at No. 8 in the league, with a projected win total of 9.1 and playoff chances set at 63%. Only the Chiefs, Ravens, 49ers, Saints and Cowboys have better win total projections than the Bucs, while the Eagles are tied with them at 9.1. The 63% chance to make the playoffs is the seventh-highest mark in the projections. Of course, it’s not surprising that this—or any—prediction model likes the 2020 Bucs. Adding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, as well as what looks to be a strong draft class, to an already-talented roster has the hype levels through the roof for Tampa Bay this fall. In fact, the Bucs’ 4% chance of winning the Super Bowl has them right outside the top five, considering the Cowboys came in at No. 5 with a 5% chance of winning it all next February. Interestingly enough, though, ESPN’s Seth Walder pointed out in his breakdown of the FPI that these preseason projections are the worst for a Brady-led team since the inception of these projections back in 2015. As for Tampa Bay’s NFC South foes, only the Saints (No. 4) have a better ranking. In fact, New Orleans is the favorite to win the division and the NFC as a whole. But in the eyes of FPI, there is a lot of separation between the top half of the division and the bottom, with the Falcons at No. 18 and the Panthers at No. 29. The Chiefs (No. 1) and Saints (No. 4) are the only FPI top-10 teams on the Bucs’ schedule this fall. The next-best teams are the Rams (No. 11) and Vikings (No. 13).
Bucs themed face coverings now available through Fanaticsby Gil Arcia on May 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports Great way for Bucs fans to cover up and feel safe. Face masks have been hard to come by during this COVID-19 pandemic. It seems like once stores put them out on the shelves for sale, they’re gone at the snap of a finger. However, if you have been looking for some and are a Buccaneers fan, you’re in luck. Courtesy of Fanatics, you can get your very own officially licensed Buccaneers inspired face coverings. As you can see in the item link below, you get a three-pack with a different design on each and the material is machine washable — allowing them to be fully reusable. Head on over to the link below and order your Bucs face coverings today! NOTE: The NFL and FOCO will support the CDC Foundation by donating all NFL proceeds from the sale of these licensed face coverings. The face coverings will ship no later than July 9.