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FAB 1. Arians, Brady Still Meshing Philosophies

Tampa Bay’s 20-19 loss at Chicago on Thursday Night Football proved to be a watershed moment for the Bucs when it came to this team learning to stop beating itself with penalties. Tampa Bay opened the year with at least eight penalties in four of its first five games, and penalty yardage of at least 71 yards in four of its first five games.

After having 11 penalties for 109 yards against the Bears, the Bucs have totaled just 12 penalties for 79 yards in the last four games. That’s a much more acceptable average of three infractions for 20 yards per contest.

There might be another watershed moment coming for Tampa Bay after Sunday’s embarrassing 38-3 blowout at home courtesy of the New Orleans Saints. Not only did the Bucs struggled to score points, they struggled to even pick up first downs – going three-and-out on the team’s first four possessions of the game.

Not having left guard Ali Marpet proved to be problematic as his replacement, Joe Haeg, struggled mightily in pass protection. Trailing 21-0 early in the second quarter, the Bucs had to abandon the running game, which only led to more pressure on quarterback Tom Brady.

One would think that a pass-first team like Tampa Bay with all of its weapons would be built to mount a comeback, and that even an early 21-0 deficit is not a hold that Bruce Arians’ high-powered couldn’t climb out of. But it’s important to realize that what New Orleans defensive coordinator Dennis Allen did exposed a difference in philosophy between Arians and Brady when he played a deep zone coverage that forced throws underneath and got pressure with the Saints’ front four after building a big lead.

It’s a difference that needs to be reconciled with immediately or Tampa Bay is going to struggle again if its faced with a similar situation later in the season – or perhaps the playoffs.

Arians’ philosophy is to take big shots down the field in the passing game. He’s said that in his press conferences, he’s written about that in his book, “The Quarterback Whisperer,” and he lives it with his “no risk it, no biscuit” mantra.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

A prime example of this was philosophy in action was Tyler Johnson’s 20-yard catch on a first-and-20 situation following a holding call in the win over the New York Giants. Arians said that might have been the play of the game – not Rob Gronkowski’s touchdown, nor Mike Evans’ diving TD grab.

“I thought Tyler probably made the play of the game – Tyler Johnson – on that first- or second-and-20,” Arians said. “Great catch by him.”

Brady’s philosophy after years of being in New England is more risk-adverse. Brady is good at not taking sacks because he gets rid of the ball quickly. Because he’s less likely to throw the ball into tight windows he will look for the check downs to running backs or underneath receivers to get something rather than nothing.

This is different from how Jameis Winston played quarterback for Arians last year. Arians wants his quarterback to hang in the pocket and make the intermediate or deep throw rather than the check down. When Winston was able to do that, it was a great play, and that’s part of the reason he was able to compile a league-high 5,109 passing yards.

But the downside of hanging in the pocket and waiting for the deeper routes to develop was Winston holding on to the ball too long and getting sacked – to the tune of 47 times last year – or staring down his receivers while waiting for them to get open and throwing interceptions – evidenced by his league-leading 30 INTs in 2019.

The play below is a prime example of Arians’ philosophy and Brady’s philosophy not meshing well. Brady feels some pressure from his left as left tackle Donovan Smith is pushed back to within a few feet of him and he takes the check down to Ronald Jones II, which picks up five yards to the 20-yard line on second-and-20. I guarantee you that Arians told Brady he needed to hit Mike Evans at the 30-yard instead when they reviewed the game in the film room on Monday. That would have set up a more manageable third-and-5 situation instead of third-and-15.

Brady has been inclined to throw intermediate and deep passes this season in Arians’ offense, but tends to take those riskier shots when he has a clean pocket. Below is another example of Arians likely wanting Brady to go somewhere else with the football.

The Bucs are facing a third-and-3 situation and inexplicably offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich calls for three deep vertical routes with only one route, a crossing route at the sticks. That does not help Brady out whatsoever.

Brady only has one option underneath and the crossing route is tightly covered, so he has to hang in the pocket. This is just a poor play call on third-and-3. It’s Arians and Leftwich wanting a big chunk play instead of calling a play that’s designed to convert a short third down situation.

As the pocket closes in on Brady he throws a deep pass to Scotty Miller, who is in one-on-one coverage outside. The play never has a chance as Miller and Brady aren’t on the same page and Miller cuts off his route.

Where Arians wants Brady to go with the ball is to Evans, who beats the linebacker down the middle. The throw down the middle has some risk as Brady has to drop it in between the deep safety and the linebacker underneath. But Evans is 6-foot-5 and is fully capable of coming down with that pass.

That’s where Brady should have gone with the ball, and that’s what Arians wants. But Brady opted to go to the undersized speedster in Miller instead because it’s actually less risk-adverse as he’s singled up in coverage and Miller has won those match-ups down the field before, evidenced recently with a touchdown catch right before halftime at Las Vegas.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Mike Evans

Bucs QB Tom Brady and WR Mike Evans – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady has a better level of comfort throwing to Miller than he does with Evans because Evans has missed more practice time due to hamstring and ankle injuries this season. That’s part of the reason why Miller entered Sunday night’s game against the Saints as the Bucs’ leading receiver with 400 yards.

When pressured, Brady has done the opposite of what Arians wants him to do, which is to hang in the pocket and throw the ball downfield for bigger chunk plays. The first video was an example of what Brady is comfortable doing, dating back to his days with the Patriots. The second video was an example of Brady doing what Arians wanted him to do by hanging in there and chucking down the field.

Neither play – nor philosophy on those plays – accomplished the desired outcome, which was to pick up a much needed first down. Those plays are a prime example of Brady and Arians – and Leftwich as an extension of Arians as the Bucs’ play-caller – still trying to mesh together halfway through the season.

The final example below is Brady also reverting to something he did often in New England – looking to Gronkowski when in trouble. In addition to checking down to running backs to avoid sacks with the Patriots, Brady would often look to his future Hall of Fame tight end to get him out of a jam.

The only problem here is that Brady escapes the pocket and throws across his body for a desperation throw to Gronkowski, which gets picked off. It’s not necessarily fatal as it was fourth-and-7 to begin with.

But look at Evans running open a deep post pattern with a step or two on his defender. That’s actually an easier throw for Brady to make even though it’s 15 yards farther down the field because he doesn’t have to throw across his body. There is a chance if the throw to Evans is on the money that it’s a touchdown. Again, that’s something Arians certainly pointed out to Brady in the film room.

“Part of it’s scheme, part of it’s reading out some things that Mike was open on and just finding him,” Arians said after the game. [Brady] is still learning the offense in some spots, but we’ve got to do a better job.”

Arians was singing the same tune about Evans, who finished with six catches for 64 yards on Sunday despite being just targeted once in the first half.

“Mike was open a bunch in that ballgame,” Arians said. “He didn’t get targeted – that was all. Mike was open.”

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

It didn’t help that Brady and the Bucs offense had six plays where they were behind the sticks either due to penalties or sacks in Sunday’s loss to the Saints. Nor did it help that Tampa Bay had five third downs with six yards or more to gain for a first down.

The takeaway from all of this is that Brady may not be the quarterback Arians wants, but he may be the QB Arians actually needs.

By that I mean that Arians innately wants a Winston-type passer that will hang in the pocket and let ‘er rip downfield more than Brady will, as Brady wants to get rid of the ball quicker than Arians might want with check downs that might not pick up yards in the chunks that Arians prefers.

The Bucs offense has an identity. It’s a pass-first offense.

But is it the down-field offense that Arians prefers, or the move-the-sticks offense that Brady is used to? Brady and Arians will need to try to work on that and have their philosophies mesh to avoid another debacle like Sunday’s 38-3 loss to the Saints.

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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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stlbucsfan
10 months ago

The Bucs start slow because we dont have any variety to our passing attack, its either down the field or check passes to our RBs who go down at the first sight of contact. We dont use Evans on slants despite his big body, or Scotty Miller on screen passes and other plays that are timing plays that keep the chains moving AND help get Brady in a rhythm. Brady needs to get his ball placement better for Evans and that connection should be fine. No QB has ever had any issues getting him the ball so if Tom is… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  stlbucsfan
10 months ago

I agree stlbucfan. It’s the coaching, plain and simple. 3rd and 3 and u have a 4 WR set with 3 of them running deep routes! WTF! Look, I like BA. But I wonder if his day has passed? He should’ve bitched out BL on that call alone. Some Head Coaches would’ve been so pissed that they would’ve took over playing calling duties, at least for one or two series, due to BL lack of knowledge of his talent and putting them in the best position to succeed. It’s not a talent problem. It’s a coaching problem. How do u… Read more »

stlbucsfan
Reply to  bucballer
10 months ago

Yep, this coaching staff is whats failing this team and I think its ridiculous considering the size of the staff. Bowles doesnt consistently put the defense in position to win. A soft game plan against the Giants almost lead to our demise and then he comes out with the same back on our heels approach with Brees and he torched us. The offense was finally finding its stride with Rojo pounding the rock and then us going play action off of it and then boom he drops ONE catch and hes benched, Fournettes in and we are back in empty… Read more »

The Wall
Reply to  stlbucsfan
10 months ago

I agree about the coaching staff. When you can’t protect the quarterback, you can’t be going for the big shot down field. Why not adjust and let Brady do what Brady does best? Might be spitballing here but I think Brady has had a bit more success than Arians and Leftwich.
I guess Bowles was relying on a better pass rush. It just didn’t happen. I thought I even saw a three man rush.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
10 months ago

Can you imagine this offensive roster if someone like Andy Reid was the coach? My god, they probably wouldn’t lose a single game.

drdneast
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Fantastic point!

BigSombrero
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

First thing Andy Reid would do is get rid of Brady, Evans, McCoy, Gronk, and Fournette. They are either old/slow or don’t fit his style of playmakers.

Reid isn’t a fan of pocket statues. He has favored mobility and big arms in a QB since Cunningham.

eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Arians is a good coach but he’s never taken the step into “great” or “elite”. Mainly because he doesn’t seem to want to adjust his 30 year old offense. Brady has done a lot with a lot less. I lean more towards Brady being able to adjust his play over Arians. Arians/Leftwich and Brady need to bend-not-break or the season will go down as one of the biggest flops in NFL history.

bucballer
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Seriously, I’m asking, what makes BA even a good coach at this point? No seriously, tell me. I like the guy, but damn man. It certainly doesn’t look like a man who is in n charge of his team!

eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
10 months ago

He has had all of his success as an OC or interim coach. He choked away plenty of big opportunities in Arizona. He hasn’t shown that he has what it takes to win the big games. The 1 PM piddly games sure…but those primetime games when the world is watching, he crumbles and just looks stupid on the sidelines. Prepare for a brutal affair next Monday against the Rams. Recipe for disaster.

Madman
10 months ago

Tired of hearing how Barrett is playing just as well as last year but just isn’t getting the sacks. Dude is clearly overweight and a step slower.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Madman
10 months ago

Exactly. High-level pass rushers still find a way to get to the QB. JPP, Mack, Jordan, Bosa, Miller, etc. They get to where they need to be even if it’s difficult. At some point he *will* need sacks to be a top-level OLB. There’s no sugar coating it.

bucballer
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

Barrett is a good player. Not a great one though. He does do other things that don’t show up in the stats. I know this. But if we would have paid him elite money last year based on his season, it would be a contract we would live to regret. In the end, sack masters sack the opposing QB… that’s what they r paid to do. Barrett has been exposed. He is a good player but not elite. Last season was an aberration, not the normal.

Last edited 10 months ago by bucballer
eaustinyoung
Reply to  bucballer
10 months ago

Bowles using him in poor schemes seemingly at a whim doesn’t help. No idea why they would change the formula if it works… it’s like the coaches second-guess themselves week-to-week.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Madman
10 months ago

You’re not going to get a lot of sacks against offenses like New Orleans with their short passing game that gets the ball out of Brees’ hands quickly – the same kind of passing game that TB-12 wants to play, but apparently is being saddled instead with Bruce Arians’ big passing play offense. Particularly when our offense starts so slow that opposing offenses get a lead and are able to mix run and pass, obviously providing fewer opportunities for the pass rush. NO is the model for how to beat the Bucs. If other teams follow the model and have… Read more »

bucballer
10 months ago

Differing philosophies is another way of saying they r not on the same page or even in agreement of the scheme or playing calling. If BA is going to continue to allow BL to call plays then BL should defer to the Goat as to which play is most effective! It’s a shame that we r more than half way through the season and BA and BL can’t figure it out! It’s the coaching!

Horse
10 months ago

Sorry Scott, but all this has been covered before on Pewter Report these last 5 days. I’ll make an observation? Could it be since we are more than half way through the season Brady’s arm has lost a little zip & accuracy; some of the 30 (or close to 30) and over players are showing wear & tear, resulting in loss of speed & quickness; there’s enough tape on us that teams know how to beat us if we do the same ole same ole; coaches are paid to coach which means unpredictable changes in their schemes. If we lose… Read more »

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Horse
10 months ago

Honestly fuck the big-play game. If Brady doesn’t have the strength to throw 40 yard bombs, they need to switch to a dink-and-dunk West Coast offense. If Brees can do it, so can Brady.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

The only saving grace is if Brady starts audibling and taking control of the offense. Im done with “no risk it, biscuit”. Its out dated and it shows.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

It worked when 42 TDs and 25 INTs was elite. But that’s now how the game is anymore. It’s speed and accuracy over pure arm strength.

matador
Reply to  Horse
10 months ago

Give me a freaking break. Brady has been a Super Bow winning machine but like every other QB he struggles when under heavy pressure. We don’t have the OL he needs, courtesy of Jason Bust Licht. Wirfs was a great selection but one 1st rounder on the OL every half dozen years doesn’t get the job done. If we had a good line we’d be going deep into the playoffs. Without one we may not even make it in.

Naplesfan
Reply to  matador
10 months ago

Funny, the entire league and NFL commentariat was congratulating the Bucs for having the best offensive line in football just 7 days ago.

Then Marpet gets concussed out of one game and now you’re suddenly claiming it’s the worst O-line Brady has ever played behind?

SMH .. you guys just slay me

Naplesfan
Reply to  Horse
10 months ago

Arm strength does not deteriorate game to game unless an injury is involved. It only slowly drops off year to year.

So the answer to your question is “no”.

Arians needs to adjust his offense to what TB-12 is best at. Or he should retire. Period.

Eddie
10 months ago

“Just throw it to him,” Arians said. An article in Yahoo quote the coach referring to Mike Evans. Is there all a head coach of NFL has to say? We are in trouble

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Eddie
10 months ago

Forcing throws looks cool on the offensive stat sheet but Jameis’s ungodly amount of turnovers came from somewhere. Arians has this old college style “just throw it 50-50 and we will beat you on skill” mentality and that’s NOT what the current NFL is. It’s a precision game now, not just SportsCenter highlight plays constantly.

EastEndBoy
10 months ago

Motion > Barrett….that speaks volumes…how can the guy who led the league in sacks with nearly 20 last year not even get the advantage over some RT nobody outside of CAR has ever heard of. Somethings’s broken.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  EastEndBoy
10 months ago

Thought the same thing. That’s so backwards its insane. Barrett should be licking his chops to get at a no-name Tackle. They should be shaking in their boots at the thought of him Sunday. Imagine if it was Khalil Mack.

PatrioticChief
10 months ago

Brady is a good not great quarterback. Good not great quarterbacks are not going to sit in the pocket, getting pressured by 4 on 50%+ snaps, while standing tall and hurling the ball deep into coverage. And you want to know what? Most great quarterbacks aren’t doing that either. I get that there are things the Bucs players needed to execute better but they were put into a position to fail on both sides of the ball. Does anyone really think this defense is that bad? Does anyone really think the offense is that bad? They looked like they did… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by PatrioticChief
Captain Sly
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

“Brady is a good QB not a great QB”. Probably letting your anger cloud better judgment in what was otherwise a decent take. 6 SB 3 MVP 14 Pro Bowl is pretty daunting for average QB.

BigSombrero
Reply to  Captain Sly
10 months ago

That was then, this is now.

matador
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

Ass Hat. You were singing his praises before this, and crapping on him before that. You’re probably a plant to drive up page views and BAB was probably one before you. Go away.

Captain Sly
Reply to  matador
10 months ago

Somehow you want to keep blaming Brady for what’s clearly poor coaching. Even at age 43 Brady is still a top 5 passer this year and is propping up an old Out Dated offense that Arians refuses to adjust. It doesn’t matter who the QB is he will never succeed standing in a “collapsing pocket” waiting for “chunk plays”. Smart play callers know how to adjust there scheme to what the defenses are doing and so far Arians/Leftwich can’t seem to do that.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BigSombrero
10 months ago

You will forever remain a bad commenter and a troll on this site.

matador
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

Wow you are a complete idiot. Brady is who he has always been. And that was great enough to lead his team to more SB’s than anyone else. We are still a work in process as a team. That’s on JBL and BA and his delegates. Not the GOAT.

PatrioticChief
Reply to  matador
10 months ago

Edelman is that you? But let’s be serious. My entire rant was that the coaching staff and protection is letting Brady down. How did you take that as me dunking on Brady? My position on Brady has also been consistent from the start. Brady is elite in a clean pocket. He can out duel anyone. He hasn’t been elite under pressure for two and half years now. Brady isn’t going to get pressured on almost 45% of his snaps and put up 500 yards like he did against the Eagles. That’s not him anymore. Brady was pressured by 4 guys… Read more »

Last edited 10 months ago by PatrioticChief
Naplesfan
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

Big Sombrero (OKA “Big Asshole”), is that you?

Naplesfan
Reply to  PatrioticChief
10 months ago

Bullshit.

PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Arians needs to go. He’s washed up and can’t coach effectively. Bowels is on my shot list as he’s becoming softer as the weeks go on. Something has got to give. I’m done with my hopes getting ripped apart by piss poor schemes and lack of effort. This team is soft until further notice.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Malcom Glazer and Rich McKay had an eye for talent. At some point the revolving door of formerly-successful coaches coming here to die (Lovie Smith and Bruce Arians most notably in the last 10 years) comes down to ownership. Look at Jerryworld and the debacle that is Mike “stuck in 2005” McCarthy.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Meanwhile, the Panthers went out on a limb for a relative no-namer college coach who looks like he’s a few key pieces/plays away from making Carolina an instant playoff team. Sometimes fresh blood > resume.

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  eaustinyoung
10 months ago

I completely agree. Why can’t we do that? Also, tampa needs to draft a QB. I’m already done with Brady. Idc what his resume is, he’s done. Cut the cord and move on after the season. Fire Arians and bring in a coach that is young and has fresh ideas. Also, draft some offensive lineman and cut smith. Honestly, I’m cool with trading some players for draft picks. Not everyone, but a semi blow-up is needed because we are lacking elictric talent at the QB position and that’s what the NFL is going towards. We need it here in Tampa.… Read more »

eaustinyoung
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

All of that frustration comes back to ownership. They risk in poor ways (throwing the bank at a short-term experiment for an all-Madden team) and are too conservative in other ways (doing literally NOTHING to fix the Donavan Smith problem).

I mean it took what…4 years to finally get a kicker worth a damn? What other team has THAT problem. That’s like trying to figure out how to put gas in your car but paying $15,000 for a custom paint job.

drdneast
10 months ago

Let’s see, how many SB’s does Brady have? How many does BA have. With that being the case I suggest BA and that idiot Lefty let Brady have the plays he is comfortable with not the ones they are. What a waste of incredible talent we are going to have here if we have another inflexible coach who won’t adjust his offense to fit the QB and the defense you are facing. And make no mistake about it, the Saints knew exactly what was going to come at them as they seemed to be sitting on the routes and which… Read more »

BigSombrero
10 months ago

SR hit the nail in the head with his assessment of contrasting styles between Arians and Brady.

I’ve always thought Brady didn’t make sense in this offense for that reason, amongst others.

Time will tell if Arians changes to the McDaniels offense or if Tom embraces throwing the ball deep to Evans.

76bucsfan46
10 months ago

If our coaches don’t get their act together we will be 7-9

Spitfire
10 months ago

Totally agree that Arians needs to take a serious look at the playbook and Tell Leftwich that he needs to go with whatever Brady is comfortable with. He didn’t have success by being forced to do something he’s not comfortable with. Let Brady call what he wants, give him 2 short options and let him do what he does best. Short passing game has made Brees career, it works as good as play action, if you take what they give you they will cover short and then you take your shots. Leftwich does not know better than Brady, I think… Read more »

matador
10 months ago

BA is not the GOAT. And he’s not even fully running the team. Give Brady the plays and setups he needs to be successful. He’s the one who knows how to win championships. End of story.

bucballer
10 months ago

It’s time the Bucs hire a consultant when BA steps up to front office in a ceremonial role. Find an up and coming young coach… our own John Gruden if u will. Who has the dynamic offenses in college football these days? U know, there r doing it year in and year out no matter where they coach. No retreads. New, young dynamic offensive mind and take a chance. Consultant or advisor if u will… a football guy…we do have some talent to build on when the next wave of veterans retire. We have all seen how a QB can… Read more »

scubog
10 months ago

Wow! You guys sure are wound up. Guess the 38 and 45 points the team put on the Packers and Raiders are “canceled” by the Saints debacle. We got out-coached, out-schemed and out-played in that out-housed of a game. Shit happens! It’s like we were headed down the path to the promised land (Super Bowl) with pretty good game-plans and then someone suggested a detour against the Saints. Same thing happened to the Donner Party when they took that shortcut across the desert and ended up eating each other. At 6 dash 3, I’m not quite ready to start perusing… Read more »

PissedOffBuc1988
Reply to  scubog
10 months ago

The problem is that we got completely dismantled in every aspect of football. We have “the GOAT” (which is quickly being taken over by Mahomes), Mike evans, Godwin, gronk, fournette, now brown, and we still saw it all not matter. I am sick and tired of being manhandled by the effing saints. yes, we are 6-3, but a ton of holes were exposed. Now we have a 43 year old qb that needs an absolute clean pocket to make plays, in an offensive scheme that requires him to hold onto the ball for 5-6 seconds. That’s not going to work.… Read more »

Captain Sly
Reply to  PissedOffBuc1988
10 months ago

Hear, Hear!

plopes808
10 months ago

Everyone needs to relax, the last 2 losses were followed by immediate improvement. The Chicago game in particular resulted in a BIG turnaround on the turnover front. Let’s not forget the 3 big performances that followed before the Saints game. I get it, everyone is upset as we should be. But all of this “Brady isn’t that good and the coaching staff is horrible” is just emotions. Yes, the coaching staff sh*t the bed as far as scheme on this one. Yes, Brady was under duress the entire game and couldn’t get anything going, but that was a result of… Read more »

Mb Nfl Lock Of The Szn Pewter 728x90 Jpg