Bucs head coach Bruce Arians held a conference call with the local media on Wednesday, shortly after Tampa Bay’s re-signing of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and a day after quarterback Tom Brady’s introductory conference call.

Arians touched on a number of topics given the lack of recent media availability, specifically focusing on the Bucs’ new QB and their ability to retain so many players on the defensive side of the ball.

Read the full transcript below.

(On bringing back so many defensive free agents)
“I wanted the entire defense to stay together if we could, they played so well together and it’s a piece to the puzzle. They knew eachother, Suh was a big, big part of it obviously. Not as much in the sack game, mostly his interior pressure and the great job he did last year against the run. We were number one in the league against the run last year and a lot of it was because of he and Vita [Vea].”

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh
Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by Getty Images

(On getting Tom Brady caught up with the offense despite restrictions in place)
“We’ll get him a computer with all the stuff in it but he’s kind of like me and Tom Moore, his computer is a playbook and a pencil. We’ll get the paper to him and he can start getting the verbiage and all that stuff down. We’ve got some video conferencing that we’re looking into and it’s amazing what you can do today with technology. Just like with the draft right now being able to interview players over FaceTime, other things you can utilize technically to get what you need to get done to get your work done.”

(On collaborating with Brady on the offense)
“I think that’s one thing that drew us both together, I’ve always collaborated with my quarterbacks. Whether it be putting a playbook together with Ben [Roethlisberger], starting from scratch with Andrew [Luck], finding out the likes and dislikes of a quarterback. We’ve watched all of [the Patriots’] film and they’re so similar in a lot of ways to what we do, it’s just how you call it. Obviously the people are going to be doing the jobs differently and that’s the hardest part. Julian Edelman runs certain routes and Chris Godwin runs certain routes and they’re similar but they’re different people. That part is going to be the harder part. Getting them together and letting them throw and as soon as it’s safe to do all that I’m sure they’re going to do it on their own. For me, it’s getting to know him. It’s obviously going to be a different timetable this year, we’re used to starting on April 22 but sooner or later we’ll be working together. Playbooks are huge in the spring, playbooks are huge in training camp and then you start taking things out of it for gameplans and working together for the team. That’s the most fun and I look forward to doing that with him.”

(On what message Brady’s signing sends to the NFL about where the Bucs are heading)
“I think it speaks volumes. Arguably the best player to play the game is available, our ownership was totally in, let’s go get him, and Jason [Licht] got it done. Everybody this time of the year, you’re trying to do the best thing you can for your football team to get better for next year. For us, my priority was the defense and then the quarterback. Right now we’ve got just about the whole defense back and we’ve changed quarterbacks and I think that getting the best quarterback to ever play the game sends a good message.”

(On what parts of the roster still needs to be added)
“I think that with free agency it’s going to be tough because of guys that need physicals. To go any further you need to get a physical on them. I’d love to have a pass-catching back. Obviously more depth in the secondary. So there are little pieces of the puzzle, I think that the draft is going to be huge for us. Obviously we have a lot of extra time to spend on it, it’s going to be more fun doing it different ways. I always love change, I think change is great sometimes. I don’t think any general managers are fired up having to draft this way but I’m kind of excited about it.”

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

(On how he feels about the offensive line and if an upgrade is needed outside of right tackle)
“I don’t think so. When you look back at the grades last year, I don’t put a lot of stock in what other people grade our guys, but they were graded pretty high. I thought that Donovan [Smith] got a lot better. I think he’ll get even more intense with Tom back there at quarterback than he has been but he played extremely well last year. I think he made the most improvement on the things we asked him to do than anyone up front. Ali [Marpet] is solid. Ryan [Jensen] had a heck of a year. [Alex] Cappa had a fantastic year for a young guy, played with a broken arm and got better and better. Joe Haeg is a solid right tackle, we’ll see what happens in the draft. I think we need some depth. We do have some really young guys that I like. [Brad] Seaton, [Aaron] Stinnie, some of those guys that practiced all year, [Anthony] Fabiano. So I really like what those guys bring as depth. I don’t see it as a glaring need but you’re always looking to upgrade somewhere.”

(On how vital a pass-catching back becomes with Brady and his screen game)
“Our backs did a very good job in the screen game last year, especially [Ronald Jones], I thought he really excelled for the first time in the screen game. Dare [Ogunbowale] was pretty solid. But just using backs out of the backfield as receivers, as primary receivers, that’s not RoJo’s deal. Hopefully we can find somebody like that that can compete with Dare on third down and become more of a wide receiver threat.”

(On if he believes the perception that Brady checks the ball down too frequently for his offense)
“I think that perception’s just wrong. I thought his deep ball was outstanding last year. Through their play action game they hit a lot of deep balls and our quarterback, I think he put it as good as anyone. Throw it to the guy that’s open. We do have reads that start deep and come to short. I’ve had a couple of quarterbacks that just keep looking deep, they won’t throw the checkdown. And Tom Moore has the best thing in the world, ‘You never go broke putting money in the bank, take the damn checkdown.’ I don’t think you have to teach Tom that but I think that the freedom of looking downfield on certain routes and in certain situations, when the matchup’s perfect, take it. Don’t be afraid to take it. Some quarterbacks are afraid to take it, I’m not looking for a checkdown Charlie-type quarterback.”

Bucs TE O.J. Howard
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Getty Images

(On what Brady could do for O.J. Howard’s career)
“I think that any time you have a quarterback come in who’s thrown a bunch of touchdowns to tight ends, your eyes light up. His eyes should light up. It’s still going out on the practice field and earning that trust so I think that will be his number one focus. If you’ve got a quarterback that throws to tight ends, go earn it and get balls thrown to you.”

(On if he’s noticed any differences with Brady’s age)
“I think he moves in the pocket as well as he ever has, sliding around. He’s always been great at that. He and Peyton [Manning] were never fast, they never scrambled, but they were hard to sack because they have great pocket awareness. He’s quick with the trigger, he can move his feet and still be accurate down the field. There’s age, we’re all getting older, but I don’t see a huge drop off in any phase of his game, whether it’s deep outside, deep down the field or his accuracy underneath. If anything, he’s as mobile around the pocket as he’s ever been.”

(On if this is the ideal time to draft a quarterback)
“[Ranking the QB’s in the draft] is one of the things that I love to do, just for fun. This is a nice class, I don’t think it’s as good as some classes that I’ve seen, but it’s a pretty nice class. If the guy is there, he fits what we want at the right price, then I’d say yes. You’re always looking for a guy that you think is the future, whether he’s in this draft or the next draft. I don’t think it’s a dire need this year, no, but if the right guy is there, yes.”

(On the importance of physical reps with the facility closed for the near future)
“It’s huge. Whether it’s on the practice field or in a college stadium or wherever they go, all the guys usually get together anyway but it’s going to be of more importance when everything is cleared and they can travel to get together before we start. I think Tom wants to get a real good handle on the offense and get his family settled and then reach out and see if guys can meet somewhere, start throwing and get to know each other a little bit better and build that rapport.”

(On if the Bucs are capable to win the Super Bowl now)
“I think so. The last meeting we had as a football team, I think that every single player in the room believed they should have been in the playoffs and the major factor was our turnover ratio. We didn’t get enough turnovers and we turned it over way to many times. If we corrected that, talent will not be an issue. I don’t think talent will be the issue, whether we make the playoffs or not. Now the Super Bowl, there’s some luck comes along with that, staying healthy and some other things but talent will not be an issue that keeps us out of the playoffs, no.”

Bucs QB Tom Brady
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Getty Images

(On if guys have reached out to play with Tom Brady)
“We had some guys call but there’s only so much money that can go around. We wanted to get our defense fixed and we’ve had some other conversations with some guys, we’ll see what’s left in the cash box and be careful with who we bring in. We’re always searching and we had some guys call and say they would play for this, but we didn’t have that much money. It was a little bit less but it wasn’t a hell of a lot less.”

(On his surprise with Brady’s only request being his teammates’ numbers)
“It didn’t surprise me at all, it’s the kind of guy that he was and he is. It’s just a matter of getting to know his teammates. I think that’s the most important thing to him. The number thing, he’ll take care of that. I think he’s already done it, he and Chris have already talked I believe. That’s one of the things I hate. We had like 26 guys in the building working out last week and all of a sudden everything’s shut down. We had a great buzz in the building, working out with all of our guys. I saw Lavonte [David] and a couple of guys but now not being able to see them and get their reactions is tough.”

(On if Brady’s knowledge brings a huge advantage to the offense)
“I think Jameis [Winston] did a great job with our run-game checks last year, there were no shortcomings there. I think Tom, with his experience obviously, we can do a lot more of it. I allowed Peyton, when we were in Indy, doing some three- and four-play checks at the line of scrimmage because he can handle that. We didn’t put that Jameis, we wanted him to just play. We did run a lot of run checks and he was pretty good at it, and it should help our run game.”

(On so much of the young defense returning and how important that familiarity will matter)
“That was the number one goal for me coming out of last season, continuing to build on defense, and the only way to build is to keep everybody in place and grow. That’s huge and they’ll be so far ahead of our offense if and when we get back out on the field but I think our offense will catch up pretty fast. Defensively we did some really nice things last year and we got better and better, especially those last six weeks of the season. I really liked how we played against Houston, who was a playoff-caliber team, and I think that our defense played more than well enough to win that game.”

Bucs CB Carlton Davis
Bucs CB Carlton Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

(On how hard it is for players to stay in shape with current restrictions)
“It’s a huge problem. Anthony Piroli, he handles each guy individually so each guy has a workout routine for them. Now it’s finding a spot to do it, not everybody has a gym inside their home. That’s probably the hardest thing right now, for guys to stay in lifting shape, especially in conditioning shape for this time of the year because this is a build up time for OTA’s and we always like to build in March to get ready for April. Reaching out to some of the guys, one or two guys do have gyms in their homes or stuff available to work out with and they’ll share it.”

33 COMMENTS

  1. It’s going to be a fun and exciting year. I hope we can sty healthy through the year. Here’s hoping all you fans can dodge this crazy corono , and not get too bored staying at home.

    Go Bucs !!!

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  2. So it really seems he is still looking for that pass catching running back as much as anything else. I wonder if Freeman is a fit or just an old washed up running back.

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  3. Yes! It sounds all good. We just have to make it work on the field when it really counts. Brady will make a big difference on the offense and as a team leader. He has insta credibility with all the players. The players know it’s time to ball and we need to do it NOW! No slacking. Everybody on their assignments. It’s going to be an interesting season as the national media and all eyes will be on Tampa Bay! It’s been a very long time since that’s been the case. Go Bucs!

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  4. Brady will be just like having a coach in the huddle!

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  5. The news keeps getting better and better. Gentlemen, this is about as confident as I’ve felt about this team in years. There’s even depth at most positions and a coaching staff along with another coach whose your QB. Football can’t get here fast enough! I’m the words of Tom terrific, ‘Let’s go!!’

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  6. Yup vet DB and vet RB and I think the Bucs are ready for the draft IMO.

    Probably will look at a vet WR post draft but right now the Bucs are looking pretty good overall.

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  7. Haeg is not a starter. Have to get the RT fixed plus add a lot more depth. Almost impossible to go through an NFL season with the OL in tact.

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  8. Last I heard was the Bucs had $22m left before the Suh deal. So $8m off brings it to $14. Figure $10-12 are needed for the the draft, That only leaves $2-4m and figure Dotson would eat up all or most of that.

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    • Actually, the Buc’s had less. I don’t believe the cap numbers included Haeg or Nunez-Roches either. However, if the buc’s stay at their current draft spot then the projection for the draft picks salary is 7.3 million. They will possibly get a little more here and there but cutting guys. That would include guys like Beckwith $120,000, Justin Evans $1.2 million, Jordan Legett $200,000, TJ Logan $200,000, etc.

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  9. I’ve had a couple guys that just keep looking deep, but won’t check it down…..well there ya have it. That’s for all the people out there that keep saying Brady is a bad fit for BA’s offense. Such crap. BA had Big Ben, Luck, and Palmer, and all of them had MVP caliber seasons under his watch. Just because his philosophy is to throw deep, that doesn’t mean it’s throw deep regardless if it’s there or not. His comment basically made it clear that Jameis was always looking to throw deep and wouldn’t take the checkdowns. Which we clear as day watching Bucs games last year. That’s just another one of the huge differences between Brady and Jameis. If the play call is read 1: Evans on a sluggo. Read 2: Godwin on a 11 yard comeback. Read 3: Howard on a short crossing pattern. And read 4: Dare slips out the right side on an cuts towards the sideline. If Evans isn’t gaining separation, Godwin went 2 or 3 yards too long on his comeback, and a LB is dropping back to guard against a crosser with his eyes peeled on Brady, guess what Brady’s gonna do? He’s throwing the ball toward the sideline before Dare even makes his cut towards the sideline. That’s what a HOF QB does. Winston would have looked at Evans smothered, then would have gone to read 2: Godwin, and even if his route went 2 or 3 yards too long, he would have thrown it anyways, and it would have been thrown off target and picked off. I truly believe many of you guys are severely underestimating just how smart and high Brady’s football IQ is, how much it will positively effect this offense, and also dismissing how low Winstons football IQ is compared to Brady. BA made it very clear in the above comment that checkdowns are vital if there’s nothing there. You ALWAYS take what the defense gives you. If the game plan is to take away the deep pass, then that game, there will be more checkdowns than there will be other games

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  10. Brady has never had this much talent at the skill positions.. Its going to be fun watching him use these weapons to carve up these defenses that none of our previous QB’s have been able to figure out over the years…
    On the defensive side with Suh back in the fold there are still a lot of good FA safeties & CB’s out there and if Kinlaw drops in our lap you can forget about it. Book My Hotel!

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  11. I hope his downplaying the need to upgrade the O line is just pre draft posturing. If one of the top 4 is there at 14 the Bucs have to take him.

    Surely they won’t draft secondary early again despite Arians saying he wants more depth there. Hopefully veterans are brought in for the back end with the 6-8 million remaining.

    Stay healthy Bucs fans.

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  12. I can’t imagine he’s that high on the OLine. Granted, I think the entire line got significantly better the second Winston wasn’t resigned and Brady signed. But that still doesn’t mean that the line can’t be improved. If any of the big 4 are there at 14 you take em. If none are there, you trade back, acquire either and extra pick, or an earlier 2nd

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  13. FIRED UP!!

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  14. Chris Thompson would be nice 3rd down back. He’s had some injury problems but has always been a great pass catching. Plus I think he would complement Jones.

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  15. I’ll hold my applause until the actual work is done on the field. We been here before..A lot. The hype machine is in full gear. I wanna see it with my own eyes. Everybody is 16-0 right now. We shall see guys.

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  16. BA saying all the right things. Not buying his confidence in the O line. I’m a little older, eyes aren’t what they used to be, but I can still see breakdowns on both right and left side.

    Agree Heag is depth, not a starter and with Alldaway that a vet receiving back and S should be next on the FA list. Gonna be an interesting 4-6 weeks.

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  17. fA safety becomes the next play here I hope, doesn’t sound like Justin evans is making any progress. With this 2 year window we can’t afford to wait on him anymore if he isn’t ready this year. If we get a FA safety and I’m officially relaxed going into the draft since we locked up the front 7. Predicted Nassib would be odd man out and he was, gets a lot of pressure on the QB but misses a lot of tackles/sacks.. so excited for the draft

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  18. @Mizzoubucs24. Love that move. I’m a Chris Thompson guy. Not sure they’ll be able to afford him though. But honestly, I’d take any one of Thompson, Montgomery, Richard, Riddick, or Powell. And a couple cheap sleepers I really like are Prosise and McKissic. Outside of Riddick, they’re all good runners too, so it won’t be predictable to whether it’s a run or pass if any of them are on the field.

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  19. Excuse me , but I am on food stamps and I have a home gym!

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  20. Carlos Hyde out of Ohio State could be that veteran RB that they could be interested in. Pretty solid vet. Very reasonable cost. What about Dion Lewis? Is he still available? Has history with Brady…

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  21. Dave you couldn’t have said it any better

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  22. Interesting. Arians mentioned how he collaborated with Roethlisberger and Luck. Now he’s going to collaborate with Brady. I wonder why he didn’t mention Winston. He was supposed to be the quarterback whisperer, right? Instead, He made Leftwich the offensive coordinator. I don’t think anyone expected that to happen. I think Leftwich improved as the season went on but I do believe it cost us some, especially the first few games. Did Arians give Winston the full package he was hired to deliver? I suppose we’ll never know. I just think it’s interesting, and maybe telling, that he didn’t mention collaborating with Winston.

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  23. I’ve been mad about the Brady signing long enough. I guess it’s time to get excited about the possibility that the Bucs can put a run together, provided they do a few things…

    I still believe the Bucs need to fix the anemic rushing attack by getting a workhorse that can stay on the field for all three downs. I still like the idea of platooning, but I would love it if the Bucs took a dynamic rusher/receiver and paired him with RoJo. I wouldn’t mind the prospect of 2 additional guys. Dream scenario for me is Taylor and CEH.

    I think Barrett, Suh and JPP staying around for another year helps, but the Bucs need to see what they can get in the draft at DE. Anthony Nelson is a 4th round pick who hasn’t played much. I’m not sure what he brings to the table. Losing Nassib doesn’t hurt since the Bucs retained Barrett and JPP, but they need to grab a dynamic OLB/DE/EDGE in this draft. I would love to see the Bucs grab Gross-Matos, as I think he would learn a lot from JPP.

    I know the Bucs will draft an OT in this draft. I just hope they get one later since this draft is so deep at OT. The top 4 guys are loved by the experts, but the experts loved the top 5 guys last year, all of which stunk early and often. Grabbing a guy like Lucas Niang from TCU in the 3rd or later makes a lot of sense. He shut down Bosa at the college level a year ago. Big people mover but has plenty to learn about pass sets like ALL OT’s this year.

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  24. @dman. Not sure you know much about Haeg, but completely disagree that he’s just a backup. He was a starter until he got hurt in 2018. And unfortunately, he didn’t get his starting job back because his replacement was playing lights out. He’s very versatile and can play all 5 positions on the line. Haeg was the #1 backup on arguably the best OLine in football. Would rather the best backup on the best line in the league over a starter on one of the worst lines in the league. Haeg would be a starter on 30 other teams. Bucs made a hell of a move in getting Haeg.

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  25. It doesn’t take much reading between the lines to conclude Winston’s football IQ was low. That’s not a shot either because I like Winston but in 5 years you should be able to make pre snap reads, hit check downs, don’t stare down your target, and get rid of the football…..
    Some times we can get too caught up in the physical gifts and overlook the mental. No coincidence that Two of the leagues most physically gifted athletes Cam Newton & Jamies Winston are looking for Work…..
    Football IQ box Unchecked!

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  26. No veteran running backs need apply. THis draft is too deep at OT, WR, and RB to bring in more vets at this point. The Bucs have about $18 million left after the Suh signing, but $8 million is allotted to the rookie pool, leaving $10 million.

    I would love to see the Bucs trade for a healthy rangy free safety. There are plenty of guys that would be affordable. A stud on the back end would make a massive difference to this defense. Anthony Harris has been tagged by Minnesota, but is he a candidate to be traded?

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  27. Haeg is the penciled in starting RT until he is dethroned IMO.

    There is a better possibility that a rookie Ol comes in and beats out Cappa or Haeg. But more likely Cappa is pushed to the bench by a rookie than Haeg.

    It would take an amazing round 1 OT talent to push Haeg to the bench. And even then Haeg would challenge for the opportunity to start at RG over Cappa.

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  28. Sounds like Devonta Freeman might be headed our way.

    Two other pass-catching RBs are DeAndre Washington and Chris Thompson.

    One of those three almost certainly will be wearing pewter (and cream?) next season. GO BUCS!

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  29. 100% agree Alldaway. Couldn’t have said it better. @BigSombrero. Completely disagree. I think we definitely need to sign a cheap pass catching back. All the guys mentioned are still young, inexpensive, with very little mileage. And this is where I disagree with people. I do NOT think this is a deep draft at RB. In fact I think this is one of the more underwhelming RB classes in some time. Mostly every RB in this draft is the exact same type of RB. They’re all bigger, with average to below average speed, with average receiving ability. I think there’s very few RB’s, especially outside the top 4, that have any chance to become a home run pick at RB. There’s hardly any elite catching RB’s, almost no speed backs, or home run threats. And to me, the only reason everyone has the big 4 going as high as they do is because there’s not much at RB this year. That’s why I’d much rather sign one of the cheap FA pass catching backs, and not have to rely on drafting one of these guys. Because outside Helaire, none of them have shown above average receiving ability

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  30. We all have got to be excited about this season!
    Go Bucs!

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  31. Killins JR, UCF. Blazing little back, who can catch the ball like a receiver, also a dangerous return man. He might go undrafted because of his size, but I’ve seen him run between the tackles. Would be worth a late round pick. Had he had his pro day his forty would’ve opened some eyes, and moved up draft boards. We’ve been fed a bunch of lies about Winston’s “high football I.Q.” Never believed it, Arains confirmed my belief.

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  32. @Dave Saw that Haeg had been a starter but didn’t realize he lost his job after an injury. Colts have a great O line and hopefully Haeg can compete for a starting role.

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