FAB 2. Bucs’ Critical Camp Questions: Offense

Now that we’ve tackled some general questions about the Bucs let’s dive into the offense with six more Bucs’ Critical Camp Questions. Then we’ll do the same for the defense in Fab 3.

7. Will Brady Be Ready For Week 1 Without An Offseason Or Preseason?

He has no choice – he’ll have to be. The good news is that Tom Brady is one of the absolute best and smartest quarterbacks of all time. In his 20-year career in New England there isn’t a route he didn’t throw or a defensive coverage he didn’t read. The bad news is that Brady has never played in Bruce Arians’ vertical offense before. It’s an offense which requires quarterbacks to hang in the pocket a little longer before, unlike the Patriots offense, which was designed to get rid of the ball in a quick, rhythmic fashion.

Although he didn’t have the benefit of any OTAs or a mini-camp to practice the new plays due to COVID-19 cancelling NFL offseasons, Brady spent the spring digesting the playbook on his own and with the help of some of his teammates that he worked out with at Berkeley Prep in Tampa.

Bucs QB Tom Brady
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

“He’s way ahead of the curve,” Arians said. “He’s a very bright guy – the terminology was the big thing. As we now get together starting [Wednesday, July 28], we’ll start to collaborate a little bit more. So yeah, I think he’s in a great spot right now as far as that goes.”

Arians and the coaching staff were not permitted to attend those voluntary workouts that Brady organized at Berkeley Prep.

“We really had no communication,” Arians said. “We couldn’t film it or anything like that. I didn’t really have a lot of conversations with Tom, other than that there was a good turnout, they were getting a lot of things done [and] it was a good team-building experience. It doesn’t replace practice, but it’s the closest thing you can get.”

While Brady worked on timing and chemistry with his receivers, tight ends and running backs at Berkeley Prep, he didn’t face an entire 11-man defense like he would have had there been OTAs and a mini-camp.

“I think his biggest concern is having no live reps up until now,” Arians said. “Missing all those reps in the spring – especially against a defense like ours where he’s going to see multiple looks all the time. Then, just getting into game shape and getting that reaction time down. I think he’ll know where to go with the ball, it’s just a matter of us putting him in enough situations – full-speed situations – that he’s ready to play a game.”

If there will be one pitfall Brady will have to work hard to avoid this year, especially in Week 1 at New Orleans, it will be the potential interceptions that come with the option routes that are in Arians’ offense. On option routes, the receiver has an opportunity to adjust his route accordingly depending on whether he is facing man or zone coverage. The quarterback and the receiver both have to be on the same page and read the coverage the same way otherwise an interception or an errant throw can occur.

That happened several times with former Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston and his receivers last year, leading to several interceptions. That happened twice at Tennessee when Chris Godwin and Breshard Perriman didn’t continue their routes, and also when Justin Watson broke off his route early against Houston – just to name a few.

8. Will Arians Sequester A Quarterback This Year?

Yes. Arians has hinted on two Zoom conference calls with reporters that he might keep one quarterback away from the team in sequester in case both Brady and the backup QB – whether it’s Ryan Griffin or Blaine Gabbert – contract the coronavirus. I think the Bucs will be keeping three quarterbacks on the active roster this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin
Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Getty Images

“We’ll go through training camp and then we’ll try and decide whether or not we want to keep somebody on the roster and keep them away, or allow them to come in or do things virtually, just in case,” Arians said. “We’ll know the protocols – we’ll have plenty of time by then to see how it’s all working out. But, it’s still a possibility.”

I think it happens. The Bucs had just two quarterbacks on the roster last year – Winston and Griffin – but this year with the coronavirus concerns, it seems only prudent that Arians have an even deeper backup plan at QB that includes two backups with one of them being isolated to prevent COVID-19 from wiping out all of Tampa Bay’s signal callers.

9. Will Tampa Bay’s Offensive Line Hold Up And Protect Brady?

Not sure. This is great question, and I would love to have the faith to say yes, but I can’t. Tampa Bay’s offensive line surrendered 47 sacks last year, while Brady was only sacked 27 times in New England. That’s a big discrepancy that can be easily explained by a couple of things.

First, Arians’ vertical offense asks the QB to hold on to the ball a little longer to allow deep routes the time to develop. Brady was used to getting rid of the ball more quickly in New England based on Josh McDaniels’ offense. Brady also threw the ball away a lot more than Winston did when hurried or pressured due to his veteran savvy, whereas the team credited with Winston holding on to the ball too long for 15 of his sacks.

It will be interesting to see how many sacks a much younger Bucs offensive line will surrender in 2020 without older veterans like Demar Dotson, the former starting right tackle, and Earl Watford, who filled in for a few games at right guard when Alex Cappa broke his forearm. Dotson will be replaced by rookie Tristan Wirfs or newcomer Joe Haeg, a five-year veteran, but Watford’s replacement will be a much younger player – perhaps Aaron Stinnie, Zack Bailey rookie John Molchon.

Bucs G Zach Bailey
Bucs G Zach Bailey – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I’m anxious to see the guys that we’re bringing in – Molchon, [Zach] Shackelford,” Arians said. “Aaron Stinnie’s a kid that really came on for us last year – I really liked him. [We’re] working him as a snapper and a guard. We still have Ali [Marpet], who could play center, Bailey, who was doing great until he broke his foot last year. He’s a big strong kid. We’ve got some kids in there that I really like, and am really anxious to see. Again, we need to get them in pads so they can do their thing.

“We’re going to have 14 days in pads – that is not a lot of time to get ready to play in a ballgame against really quality opponents, but we’re going to have to get it done.”

10. What Are The Strengths And Weaknesses On Offense?

With apologies to Brady, the strength of Tampa Bay’s offense is Pro Bowl wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, who both were ranked in the Top 40 in the NFL’s Top 100 List. Both young receivers are in their prime and topped 1,000 yards receiving last year in injury-shortened seasons. Having a more accurate, less turnover-prone quarterback like Brady could lead to even better production for the Bucs’ dynamic duo at wide receiver in 2020 as fewer offensive drives will be shortened by interceptions.

While the Bucs will miss the veteran presence of Breshad Perriman, who was a clutch No. 3 receiver last year, the team is excited about Scotty Miller and Justin Watson, who both came on late last year with a combined three touchdowns, in addition to the addition of Tyler Johnson, the team’s fifth-round pick this year.

The weakness on Tampa Bay’s offense might be the running back stable as Ronald Jones II is the most experienced rusher in Bruce Arians’ offense, but has less than 800 career rushing yards. Jones did have a breakout season in 2019 with 724 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards per carry, but has just one 100-yard game in his first two seasons in Tampa Bay.

Bucs RB LeSean McCoy
Bucs RB LeSean McCoy – Photo by: Getty Images

The team did agree to terms with veteran LeSean McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler, who is entering his 12th season in the league at age 32. McCoy, who will need to pass a physical next week before he is signed by Tampa Bay, played in 13 games in Kansas City last year after his first six years in Philadelphia followed by four years in Buffalo.

He rushed for a career-low 465 yards and four touchdowns, but did average 4.6 yards per carry. However, most of McCoy’s production came early in the season and he didn’t have a single touch on offense during the postseason. McCoy is a great receiver out of the backfield with 503 career receptions, and caught 28 passes for 161 yards (6.5 avg.) and one score for the Super Bowl champions last year.

The Bucs drafted a pair of running backs in third-rounder Ke’Shawn Vaughn and seventh-rounder Raymond Calais that will compete with McCoy, third-down back Dare Ogunbowale, T.J. Logan, the team’s return specialist, and Aca’Cedric Ware. There just isn’t a lot of experience in this room outside of McCoy, and Vaughn is out for an extended period due to a positive COVID-19 test, which will stunt his development as a rookie.

Bucs general manager Jason Licht was wise to sign McCoy prior to the start of the season because the team’s running game could be a disaster if something happens to Jones or his growth as a runner stalls. How much McCoy has in the tank and how quickly he learns the offense are new questions that need to be answered.

11. What Is The Training Camp Battle To Watch?

The No. 3 wide receiver spot. Miller and Watson are the favorites to win the No. 3 and No. 4 spots on the depth chart due to their experience in Arians’ offense from last year. Miller has the speed that Perriman brought to the offense last season as a vertical threat, and at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Watson can replace the size that Perriman offered the team’s receiving corps.

Bucs WR Scotty Miller
Bucs WR Scotty Miller – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Had the Bucs and the rest of the league had an offseason with a rookie mini-camp, OTAs and a mandatory mini-camp, rookies like Johnson, Josh Pearson, Travis Jonsen and John Hurst, in addition to holdovers like Bryant Mitchell, Jaydon Mickens, Cyril Grayson, John Franklin and Spencer Schnell, would have had a much better chance to be in the mix for the No. 3 receiver role. Now without any preseason games, it will be an uphill climb for those players to make enough of an impression in 14 padded practices to beat out either Miller or Watson – in addition to claiming a roster spot on the 53-man roster.

12. Who Is The Training Camp Sleeper On Offense?

It might be second-year wide receiver John Franklin, who played Wildcat quarterback at Auburn before transferring to Florida Atlantic where he played wide receiver as well as Wildcat quarterback. Franklin was an undrafted free agent, who played cornerback for Chicago while in camp with the Bears last summer.

The Bucs signed him to their practice squad last November where he used his 4.32 speed to impersonate Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson in practice, and then used him against Atlanta as a Wildcat QB where he gained 11 yards on his only NFL carry.

Bucs WR John Franklin III
Bucs WR John Franklin III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Yeah, he’s a very interesting athlete, even though he had never played defense,” Arians said. “He’s one of those guys that he’s got so much talent and athletic ability, you’re trying to find a place for him. We ran that little Wildcat package with him, and he did a great job with it. He can throw [and] he’s coming in as a wide receiver, so he’ll be in the offensive rooms. He could possibly give us a third quarterback on Sunday with his ability, so he’s got a lot of options, and it’s up to him to make the ball club as a wideout.”

Now let’s take a look at Tampa Bay’s defense with six more Critical Camp Questions.

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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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Horse

This season has so many “what if'” questions because of Covid-19; it’s all a wild guess as to how it plays out as to team performance. I have a lot of confidence in our coaching staff. Go Bucs!

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drdneast

Reynolds writes, “The rest of America has learned how to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic to reopen the economy with precaution.”  To which I reply, BS. I know Reynolds was a Trump supporter, but to continue to spout misleading propaganda without a reply is dangerous and extremely misleading. Florida is currently registering around 10.000 new case of Trumps Virus every day for the last month. At the same time we are averaging nearly 200 deaths a day from this alleged “hoax.” Florida is now ranked second to California in the nation with the number of Trump Virus cases despite being… Read more »

Dbuc63

To people who think independently, another words, people who are not part of a flock or herd, read your posts and lose 20 IQ points. You are laughable to anyone who actually exhibits critical, logical, and rational thinking. I went to speak at my daughter’s classroom (3rd Grade) this past January. It all came to be because her teacher and I discussed at parent/ teacher conference before last Christmas topics she wanted me to share with the children. It is one of the most amazing experiences in my lifetime and I’ve seen a lot. The questions afterwards were a delight… Read more »

Horse

President will be at the Pelican Golf Club in Belleair soon. I live on the 4th fairway and the helicopters have been buzzing around here since yesterday and today.
Tell Scott to come over here and he’ll be able to meet him. Oh, I forgot the fundraiser is $100,000 a person. Maybe some of you can chip in for Scott to meet him?
This Vietnam Veteran will never shake the hand of that Bone Spurs coward!

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drdneast

Thank you for your service Horse, especially during a very unpopular war. I voted for Dick Nixon in 1972, my first vote in a Presidential election and when the Watergate investigation began I was completely on his side. But by the time it ended, I had changed my mind and vowed to never give anyone my loyalty when they didn’t earn it and when it was proved they had acted in such a way to betray my trust. It was difficult for me to admit I was wrong for defending him at the onset, but I would rather admit that… Read more »

Horse

Don’t feel alone I voted for Nixon too because he said he was going to get us out of Viet Nam as quickly as possible. That took another additional 30,000 American lives to happen. Also voted for Reagan; just to let some know that I’m not Party affiliated with any. Belleair is loaded with Aristocrats and many had no empathy or understanding how people are suffering especially for someone who is not white. I grew up in this area; there are many good people living here, but there are also a lot of naive selfish people around too. Rate this… Read more »

matador

Another 30k dead Americans was a mortal sin back then. To Trump supporters today the loss of five times that many AMERICAN LIVES is something they wake up deciding to pretend doesn’t matter, is a deep state fake news conspiracy, etc. Until it happens to someone they care about or themselves, after which the hypocrisy playbook says to go radio silent. Pathetic.

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Dave

So because Florida sucks, and is run by a clown who couldn’t be bothered with preparing his state to handle covid properly? That means that Scott’s comment about the rest of the country learning to live with covid and opening up safely is false? I live in Massachusetts, and we’ve opened up the state just fine. Every store has mandatory mask rules, social distancing marks on the floor, no large gatherings, and we’ve had low cases, deaths, and hospitalizations since april. There are PLENTY of states that have opened up safely and are doing fine. At some point, life has… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
drdneast

The rest of the country encompasses Florida. Sounds like MA. has some legitimate leaders but the Bucs don’t play or practice in Boston. We also don’t have mandatory mask rules or anyone who will go into a bar and shut it down when they are still serving liquor and not enforcing social distancing. Unemployment rates will continue to skyrocket not because we are doing the necessary things to quell the virus, but because we don’t have leaders who insist on the public doing the necessary things. Why is this such a difficult concept to grasp. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

Dave

So you pretty much proved my point. Florida is 1 out of 50 states. Florida handling covid poorly doesn’t mean the entire country can’t open up and do it safely. The state has nothing to do with the Bucs. The Rays play in Florida, and have had ZERO covid cases. The Panthers, Lightning, Heat, and Magic all play in Florida, and also have had ZERO covid cases. The Marlins, had their entire team get it, because they’re treating covid like a joke. Point is, the Bucs can play their games, even at home, and have a covid free season, if… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
e

You’re absolutely right, drd. Scott likes stir the pot, but facts are facts. Florida has been the model for how NOT to beat back a pandemic. Sadly, the rest of the world, including out enemies, now how to beat us down without dropping a bomb or firing a bullet…Back to football, If the season is completed; there are going to be major roster adjustments because of covid and it’s anyone’s ballgame at this point. Certainly, the team that practices the most safety precautions will have an advantage over other teams as the season wears on. I can’t say that I… Read more »

drdneast

Dave, you better check the map of the US again, over half the states in the nation have seen a dramatic rise in Trumps Virus case.
You are right about the states that haven’t though. Many of those followed the guidelines of the CDC and are wearing masks.
And you are also right about a good deal has to do with personal responsibility.
By the way Horse, I voted for Reagan too.I also voted for Ford.

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Dave

This is why I can’t take you, Naples, BuccaneerNW, and a few others seriously. What about any of my post or any of this conversation, has to do with Trump. Yet you find a way to bring him up in EVERY single one of your posts. This isn’t a political conversation. It’s a conversation about how misguided your post is, by trying to claim that everything should be cancelled, and nothing should ever open up again because Florida can’t get their act together. And I’ve seen the stats. Not every increase is the same. You have a small handful of… Read more »

drdneast

You are entitled to your own opinion Buc63, but not to your own facts. Especially when they affect the health and welfare of others. Speaking of facts, I see you didn’t address any of the ones I cited, instead you resorted to a personal attack which is a favorite tactic among weak minded individuals without a platform to work from. As far as speaking to third graders, even a third grader with a basic limited understanding of science would follow the guidelines of medical professionals who have a vast knowledge in the field rather than an idiot who suggests they… Read more »

BigSombrero

It’s the same situation for all teams. The Bucs are a veteran team with Brady at the front.

There are no excuses why this team can’t be ready and beat New Orleans week 1.

I’ve got my popcorn ready.

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surferdudes

Horse, you didn’t want to play a round of golf with him? Don’t blame you, he cheats! Thanks for your service Horse. If your daddy was rich, you could’ve danced away the war at studio 54 like commander and chief bone spur! To bad Scott can’t see the man for what he really is. The antichrist!

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matador

Nailed it. Draft dodger. Racist. Congenital liar. Fake Christian. Cheated on his wife, well one of them anyway, with a porn star right after his son was born. Then bribed her to stay quiet. Likely a tax fraud. Clearly a fraud in business with multiple business bankruptcies leaving others holding the bag. At least he has the support of people like DucheBag63 and Scott to cling to.

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Last edited 2 months ago by matador
76bucsfan46

Just wanted to thank you guy’s for ruining our football conversation’s with your politics.

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Naplesfan

There is nothing that is not political when the politician in chief decided to treat a worldwide pandemic as a political event and therefore refused to do his job to protect America and as a result ruined all of our lives and our economy and killed off hundreds of thousands and gave hundreds of thousands more permanent organ damage that they will never recover from.

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scubog

Once again, I awake, but not sure if that qualifies as being “woke” early on Saturday to read the Fab 4 plus self-pimping. I enjoyed the article, but sadly, one little remark about COVID-19 and that opens the lid of the cesspool for you people so intent on spewing your political views instead of your thoughts about the football team you profess to love.

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Dave

It’ll never end. I said this a few weeks ago, and I’ll say it again. PR is every bit as responsible for the constant political posts. Because they throw the bait. In their line of work, they’d rather 50 comments be about political bs, than have 10 comments be 100% about football. It’s sad. They throw in covid talk or questions in almost every single article. But the political bs apparently will never go away from this site. It got old 3 months ago. Like you, I’m just tired of it. Talk football or don’t talk. If you want to… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
Naplesfan

What you call “spewing” is what normal people call serious discussion of live altering events and policies that caused them to be literally thousands of times worse and more harmful than was ever necessary You are welcome to keep living in your Trumplican bubble of unreality. More than likey you are old and retired and collecting a pension and Social Security so you don’t need to worry about losing your job and your home and many tens of millions of Americans are forced to do now because of political malpractice that you preferto ignore. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00… Read more »

scubog

You’ve never read anything regarding my political views. I don’t care what you politically focused people think. I just want to discuss football on this forum.

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Horse

scubog, I usually like your comments, but you live in a different bubble than me. Scott lives in your bubble too and see nothing wrong about his world. i have much concern we are heading in the direction of a police state and dictatorship. I am concerned when the head of sheriff departments forget there purpose. We all want law & order and to continually to promote the fear otherwise for political reasons is dangerous for our democracy. Many of us are no longer going to be silent! Scott might take me off this site as I have no intentions… Read more »

scubog

Me writing that I don’t want this to be used as a political forum has nothing to do with my own politics. Don’t know what “bubble” you think I’m in. Probably similar to yours. I even go to work every day right in your neighborhood there in Belleair.

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Naplesfan

Scott still cheerleading for the COVID-deniers, all of them being Trumplican reality deniers. If the nation is learning to live with COVID, it is also learning to die with COVID. Every day this week Florida broke its all time death record. I live in southwest Florida, which is the Trumpiest part of the state (Trump by 26 points in 2016). Yesterday, I went to my local favorite pizza parlour/Italian restaurant to pick up our usual takeout order. Since COVID I have refused to dine in at any restauraunt. I wore a mask, and 100% of the restaurant employees were masked.… Read more »

Horse

The same is still going on in this area too. I went to Verizon Wednesday and was shocked to see some customers not wearing a mask. I said something to the employee who was helping me about it, and he just shrugged his shoulders. I will no longer go to Verizon on the corner of East Bay and Belcher in Largo again. I was wearing a real certified N95 mask too, but it’s still not right for people who don’t wear masks think it’s okay for them to spread the virus unknowingly. Yes Scubog, even on this sight, this has… Read more »

scubog

I have three Bucs masks that I wear when I’m out.

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matador

Well said Naples.
If you support a racist, or play a role in enabling him, then you too are a racist. If you fail to take precautions and help spread the virus, you too have the blood of dead Americans on your hands, whether or not you have the guts to acknowledge it. If you don’t care about that, go the heck to Mother Freaking Russia.

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