The NFL and the NFL Players Association have come to an agreement on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and NFL training camps have opened up across the country, including in Tampa Bay. PewterReport.com offers up its analysis of each position on the Buccaneers as new quarterback Tom Brady and his teammates prepare for the 2020 season.

QB Room

Tom Brady | Age: 43 | NFL Exp.: 21st season | 6-4, 225
Blaine Gabbert | Age: 30 | NFL Exp.: 10th season | 6-4, 235
Ryan Griffin | Age: 30 | NFL Exp.: 7th season | 6-5, 210
Reid Sinnett | Age: 23 | NFL Exp.: Rookie | 6-4, 225

The Skinny

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo By: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady was the free agent signing of the offseason in Tampa Bay, and his arrival makes the Buccaneers an immediate threat to the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South title. Brady is a better fit in Bruce Arians’ vertical offense than one might think, as his arm strength hasn’t declined as much as some critics might suggest. Where Brady will help the Bucs the most is his 20 years worth of NFL experience and his penchant from avoiding turnovers.

Brady has never thrown for more than 14 interceptions in any of his 20 years. Brady threw eight interceptions in 2019 in New England, while Jameis Winston tossed a league-high 30 INTs in Tampa Bay. In fact, the highest amount of interceptions that Brady has thrown over the past nine years was 12 in 2011.

There is a concern for Brady as he transitions to Arians’ offense, which features an arsenal of talent, including Pro Bowl receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, in addition to a familiar target in Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski. That concern is the option routes found in Arians’ playbook.

Option routes allow receivers to run different routes based on either man or zone coverage. The problem is that both the receiver and the quarterback need to be on the same page and read the defense the same way. Otherwise an errant throw – and the potential for an interception – can occur. Two of Winston’s interceptions at Tennessee and another INT against Houston occurred by not being on the same page on option routes with his receivers.

Winston led the league in passing in 2019 with 5,109 passing yards while throwing 33 touchdowns, which was second in the NFL, in addition to a league-high 30 interceptions, including an NFL-record seven pick-sixes. Last year in New England, Brady had 4,057 with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and OC Byron Leftwich – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich love to throw the ball, and that makes sense with weapons like Evans, Godwin and Gronkowski among others for Brady to throw to. Look for Brady to reach 4,500 passing yards this season if he plays in all 16 games, and pass for at least 30 touchdowns, which he’s done seven times in his 20-year NFL career.

The biggest difference will be fewer turnovers coming from the quarterback position, and likely fewer sacks, too. Winston was sacked 47 times in 2019, with team officials suggesting that he was responsible for 15 of those sacks by holding on to the ball too long. Brady was sacked just 27 times last season, and part of that is because he gets rid of the ball much quicker. But with the vertical nature of Arians’ passing game, more time is needed for routes to develop down the field, so it will be interesting to see how long Brady hangs in the pocket and how many times he gets sacked in 2020.

The Bucs have the benefit of having two backup quarterbacks that know the system in Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin.

Camp Battle To Watch: Backup QB – Gabbert vs. Griffin 

Bucs QB Blaine Gabbert

Bucs QB Blaine Gabbert – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

For the second year in a row, Gabbert will battle Griffin for the right to be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart – backing up Tom Brady this season. Gabbert, a former first-round pick of Jacksonville in 2011, has two years in Arians’ system, as well as 48 starts under his belt. Due to his extensive playing time, Gabbert has the immediate advantage over Griffin, a seven-year pro, who just saw limited action in the regular season for the first time in one game last year.

Yet Griffin shined last August after Gabbert suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason, which caused him to go on injured reserve. Griffin passed for a league-high 744 yards and four touchdowns, which was the second most in the NFL preseason in 2019. He won over Arians, Leftwich and quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, and the Bucs didn’t add another QB to the mix this offseason – outside of undrafted free agent Reid Sinnett – as a result.

Without a preseason to show more growth in Arians’ offense, look for Gabbert to seize the backup job behind Brady due to his on-field game experience in the regular season. But Griffin will stick around as the No. 3 QB this year due to potential injury or a positive COVID-19 test to Brady or Gabbert.

The Sleeper: Sinnett

Bucs QB Reid Sinnett

Bucs QB Reid Sinnett – Photo by: University of San Diego

Sinnett won’t make the team, especially due to the fact that he comes from San Diego where he was just a one-year starter, and he won’t have the benefit of a rookie mini-camp, OTAs or preseason games this year to help his growth. But Sinnett, who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds with good arm strength, has a chance to make the practice squad, and that’s important this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

An injury to Brady or either backup – or a positive COVID-19 test – could lead to Sinnett being activated from the practice squad at a moment’s notice during the season. Assuming he impresses enough in training camp with limited reps to wind up on the practice squad.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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BigSombrero
11 months ago

Brady has been durable. I expect that he’ll be healthy for all 16 games.

The pressure is on Brady to get the ball to Evans and Godwin while disproving the stat sheet that he has become a dump off passer and game manager.

In a new city and a new system with new guys, one might expect a learning curve, but the Bucs are all-in for 2020. It’s SuperBowl or Bust, literally.

Last edited 11 months ago by BigSombrero
Hockey Duckie
11 months ago

How did Griffin win over the coaches when Winston was never benched?

Captain Sly
Reply to  Hockey Duckie
11 months ago

Been reported that though Griffin didn’t have the physical talent or ability of Winston that he Griffin was a quick study of a playbook…. I’m not advocating that he should be on the team or anything but he’s apparently got “something”. 7yrs in the league surviving multiple coaching staffs, just a sniff of game experience and threatening not even to other backup QB’s. Yeah you may call that the “It Factor”

Jackson
11 months ago

Low confidence in what Brady can do this year. He played really well first 9 games last year. The last 8 games (inc playoff) he played one really good game (Bal) and one ok game (hou). Think only one of those last wins were because of his play, other 3 defensive wins to me. The advanced stats say his bad throw % were up and completed air/yds down in last 8 games. Everyone points to his skill players but they were the same as the first 9 games he played well. I wonder if the decline in play is a… Read more »

IDGABuc
Reply to  Jackson
11 months ago

OR we could get a Brady who didn’t overwork his arm in training camp and is able to stay fresh for a full season! I am almost hoping we play so well and have a great record and he can rest the last game of two plus we earn the bus so he is as fresh as can be for the playoffs. Maybe the coaching staff even sits him a game or two kid season, depending on the playoff race..? I know! It’s crazy.. But I’m still crossing my fingers we end up in a position where we can rest… Read more »

IDGABuc
Reply to  IDGABuc
11 months ago

*earn the bye (Only one 1st Rd bye for each conference with one more team added to the playoffs in each conference. Pretty sure anyway..)