The teams the Bucs would face have been known since shortly after the season ended. However, the order in which they will face their opponents was released in May. The schedule makers did the team no favors in the early weeks of the season giving them a daunting stretch through their first four games.
Week 1 at Dallas on Sunday Night Football. That’s followed by a tough road game at division rival New Orleans. Then the home opener versus Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay in Week 3. The first month of the schedule concludes with a Sunday Night Football showdown against Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.
Though these Bucs aren’t one to back down from a challenge. Quarterback Tom Brady recognizes the challenge, and emphasizes it will be the foundation they lay in training camp that could determine how the season starts.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: USA Today
“We’re challenged right out of the box this year,” Brady said. “We’ve got really good teams. We’ve got to have a great training camp. We know when training camp is – it’s the 23rd of July. We know we’ve got six weeks of training camp. But I feel like the season’s already started. You’re competing every day out there. You are either getting better or getting worse. You’re not going out there just to break a sweat. You’re going out there to get things done.
“I think this should be, in my opinion, our best opportunity to play our best football. Because we’ve been together the longest, and why shouldn’t it be? We know each other, we know the scheme. We’ve been through a lot of challenging circumstances in games and now we’ve got to go out there and execute it as well as we possibly can.”
Wide receiver Mike Evans embraces the challenge of the Bucs vaunted schedule. The Bucs will face some high profile quarterbacks this season. And even though Evans is on offense he’s excited to compete against some of the top players and teams in the league.
“Well it’s a tough schedule, but I love it,” Evans said. “Playing against a lot of playoff teams, playoff-caliber teams, really good quarterbacks. I like playing against really quarterbacks. I’m a fan of that position. It’s a good schedule this year. I hope it’s similar to last year. A lot of sold out games and big crowds.”
Though Evans isn’t overlooking anyone on the schedule, and knows how quickly a team can go from bad to good or vice versa.
“The NFL has a lot of great parity,” Evans said. “That’s how our game is, and I like that. We were once the bottom team, and people said, “Oh yeah, Bucs – easy game.” And now, they want to play the Bucs. So, I’m just happy. I don’t care what the schedule is, I don’t care about the schedule. I just want to win as many games as possible.”
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs cornerback Carlton Davis III shares the same energy as Brady and Evans. There’s an old adage to be the best you need to beat the best, and that’s something Davis is looking forward to.
“We have a hell of a schedule,” Davis said. “I can’t wait, it’s going to be really fun. A lot of competition, but a lot to prove. A lot of big games, but that’s how you want it. That’s the best kind of football to play.”
The Bucs are heading into the season with the right attitude but it will take a lot of hard work to reach the promised land. They’ve been down this road before and know what it will take to win. But they aren’t backing down from the challenge ahead.