Welcome to The Hook, my weekly column that hooks you into a different Tampa Bay Buccaneers topic each Thursday, as well as some of my thoughts on the Bucs and the NFL at the end in a section called Cannon Blast.
I invite you to offer me some feedback on The Hook below in the article comments section.
First, let me start off by saying when the Bucs’ 2019 season ended with a 28-22 overtime loss to the Atlanta Falcons last December, I was 90 percent certain Jameis Winston would be back as Tampa Bay’s quarterback in 2020.
Former Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
After throwing for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns, and setting numerous franchise records, and an investment of an overall first-round pick in 2015 told me that there was no way the Bucs can walk away from that. Not after just one year in Bruce Arians’ offense.
Even as sources told me don’t 100 percent count on Winston being back, I scoffed at the notion, telling myself it was just a ploy by the organization – perhaps to start building a narrative to drive what many expected his salary demand to be of an outrageous sum of money down.
Passing for 5,109 yards with 33 touchdowns? One of just eight quarterbacks to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season?
No way they let him walk.
Boy, was I wrong.
Who knows what happens if Tom Brady and Bill Belichick decided to try it one more year? Sure, there were rumblings of Teddy Bridgewater or Philip Rivers as a potential replacements for Winston, but if I had to guess I would say, if Brady didn’t come available, then Winston would be under center this season.
It’s Brady or Winston. That’s it. Not Rivers not a rookie. Brady or Winston.
But Brady did end up on the open market. And in a dream scenario for most Bucs fans, Brady became a Buccaneer.
NFL history has been littered with former Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks leaving their original teams late in their careers to try and win elsewhere. Joe Montana left the 49ers and went to Kansas City. Brett Favre spent his last year in Minnesota after becoming a Packers legend. But things didn’t pan out for either – at least in terms of winning a Super Bowl. It almost happened for Kurt Warner, but the only quarterback to win a Super Bowl for two different teams in the history of the NFL is former Brady rival Peyton Manning.
The odds are stacked against Brady when you look at history. I was very skeptical in the beginning, but now I have become a Brady believer. Even without seeing him throw his first pass in Raymond James Stadium.
Brady is a legend. Six Super Bowl wins. Four Super Bowl MVPs. Fourteen Pro Bowls. Three league MVPs. And that is just a partial list of his accomplishments.
Twenty years from now, kids will be asking their dads, “Did you really get to see Tom Brady play in person?” the same way my 19-year old son asks me about watching Michael Jordan in his prime.
QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But Brady transcends sports. He is an American icon. He is the sports version of Oprah Winfrey. The football version of Bruce Springsteen. The gridiron equivalent of Robert DeNiro. My 92-year old grandmother probably hasn’t seen a football game in 30 years, but she knows the name Tom Brady.
And now he is the quarterback of your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Go ahead Bucs fans, pinch yourself. You aren’t dreaming.
But will Brady be another Favre, Montana or Warner?
Or will he be another Manning?
If I were a betting man, my money would be on the latter.
I have went from slightly skeptical to a full on Brady believer.
“Someone with his pedigree and his caliber of quarterback – when you look at it, he is pretty much the greatest quarterback of all time – unquestionably,” Brate said. “That kind of raises expectations even before he walks into the room. When you know you have that quarterback that can come back from three touchdowns in the Super Bowl, who has won six Super Bowls, has been the league MVP a bunch of times, when you have that guy in change of your offense and the leader of your team, it gives you a sense of belief that, ‘Hey, if we keep this game close, as long as I am doing my job then we are going to have a chance to win at the end of the game.’ Really, just that sense of belief is huge. And just getting to know Tom, he is a great teammate and has an ability to relate to all of us. I think is going to elevate the camaraderie and the locker room and the whole team.”
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo By: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brate also said Brady’s attention to detail is like none other he has been around.
“It could seem like a perfect pass, a great ball – everything seems spot on,” Brate said. “But, if he doesn’t feel it’s 100 percent crisp, exactly where the ball should be placed, if you weren’t efficient at the top of your route – you’re going to run it again until you really perfect it. He definitely is meticulous in the way he goes about his business. He kind of has a way of circling everything back to football. Whether you’re having a meal with him and talking about whatever, he’ll just bring it back to football. That’s kind of the way he operates, it seems.”
The term “another coach on the field” is probably thrown around too much in sports. But that isn’t the case with Brady. Twenty years of playing experience – at a supreme level – means the Bucs will have another coach on the field. But this one will be wearing a No. 12 jersey.
Head coach Bruce Arians talked about that on Wednesday when speaking to the media via Zoom.
“I think the desire to excel every single day, every play,” Arians said. “If the ball is not where he wants it or the receiver’s not where he wants him, it’s non-stop grind with him. It was the same way with Peyton. I think they all have the same qualities of willing themselves on other people to win and making them accept it quickly. All the good ones, they all had it. When they talked, everybody listened, and Tom has that for sure. Obviously, he has the rings and all that, but what he did over at Berkeley [Prep], that was strictly on him. Nobody edged him on to do that. He was like, ‘Hey, let’s get going.’ Right now, he’s tired of walk-throughs already. He’s like, ‘We’ve got to practice.’ We’ve got to wait about five more days, but yeah, I love that about him.”
Newly signed running back LeSean McCoy praised his new “coach on the field” on Tuesday.
“He looked good – he looked real good,” McCoy said. “As he’s throwing the ball, I heard a couple of the guys whispering, ‘Dang, how many years do you think he’ll play?’ That’s how good he looked – seriously. Me and ‘Gronk’ (Rob Gronkowski) talked about it – his will to win, his will to go out there and still keep doing it. Once you see a guy like that kind of display that attitude, you want to be a part of it. It says to me like, ‘Man, how much longer can I do it?’ He looked good today. He looked in good shape. He threw the ball very well. He’s like a coach with a helmet on.”
RB LeSean McCoy and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
All of these players – and others who have played with Brady in the past have been saying essentially the same thing – Brady’s attention to detail and will to win – is unprecedented.
Winston had that same desire to win, but didn’t have the resumé, wins, or rings to back it up. Having desire and competitiveness is all well and good, but at some point it has to show up in the win column. For Winston that just didn’t happen nearly enough. I won’t count Winston out down the road, but for now the Buccaneers have a proven commodity. A QB with a resumé and the NFL history books to become instantly credible as soon as he walks into the locker room on the field.
Teams need a lot of luck to win championships. If it were just one single player as talented ad Brady then he would have 20 Super Bowl rings. The defense will need to play well. The team will need to avoid the injury bug. And the ball will need to bounce the right way.
While the Bucs have yet to even put on shoulder pads or tackle, scrimmage or face an opponent, I am a Brady believer. And from the words of his teammates and coaches in even such a short time in Tampa Bay, Brady has made them all believers as well.
Keep your fingers crossed, Bucs fans, that the NFL will get through the COVID-19 pandemic and actually have a full season because if they do it is going to be one heck of a fun ride.
It’s time for everyone to become a Brady believer.
Table of Contents
Cook’s musings and ramblings about the Buccaneers and the NFL. Good stuff. Check it out.
• The media had our first look at the Bucs on the practice field this past week and I was joined by our long-time photographer Cliff Welch last Tuesday morning. But boy, was it a whole different world than we have seen in the past as media members.
First, we had to be there 30 minutes prior to the start time and check into the main lobby where we had a health screening. Prior to even being allowed through the gates we had to have two COVID-19 tests come back negative. Once inside the lobby, and all the questions were asked and answered, we were given contact tracer sensors to wear around our necks that would beep loudly if we got within six feet of another person. We were then escorted to the practice fields, still spacing and wearing masks, where were were assigned a location to view the workout. Once in place we weren’t allowed to move around and our view was from the south end zone while the player did most of their work on the north end of the field.
The media has been divided into two tiers and those in the first tier were allowed to go into the media work room prior to and after the workout. But the media room wasn’t in the Advent Health Training Center. Instead a trailer that was situated behind the practice field and to the west of the indoor facility. After we’re done working we had to go back to the lobby and turn in the tracing contact sensors. And before we can come to the next scheduled media day, another COVID test must be performed.
New Bucs media work room – Photo courtesy of Greg Auman of The Athletic
The Bucs’ public relations staff did a good job of relaying the information we needed based on the guidelines established by the NFL in order for the media to attend and I appreciated the opportunity to see Brady and the Bucs offense on the field for the first time in 2020 – even if it was from 100 yards away.
Our coverage will be a little different this year – well, a lot different based on the guidelines – and limited info in reports we are allowed to make. But we at PewterReport.com are 100 percent committed to bringing our readers the most comprehensive reports we are allowed to produce. Stick with us, Bucs fans, and be patient as we all figure out how we will be covering this team in 2020.
• There was music on the practice field for the first time in over a year this past Tuesday when the Bucs held an offensive workout. It is doubtful Arians has changed his tune (pun intended) on music during official practices but it was blaring this week for Tuesday’s workout anyway.
But that got me thinking, what music is on Tom Brady’s personal playlist? Fortunately, someone else wondered the same thing a couple years ago and ESPN’s Mike Reiss wrote about it. Now I don’t know Brady personally, but his musical choices kind of surprised me. He’s an old dude like me, so I figured there might be some Skynyrd, Guns N’ Roses or maybe even a little Motown. I was wrong. Below is a 31-song Brady playlist.
• New Bucs tackle and first-round draft pick Tristan Wirfs had his first surreal Brady moment recently.
“The first time I met him, we were just coming around a corner and met each other,” Wirfs said. “He said, ‘What’s up, big dog?’ I thought it was kind of crazy because he’s Tom Brady. Then he asked me how old I was and I told him 21, and he kind of started laughing. He said something like, ‘You think you have experience? I’ve got double your experience.’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ That’s really about it. I waved to him when he was leaving the other day. He seems really nice. I’m excited to get to be his teammate.”
Wirfs was born in 1999. Brady came into the league in 2000. Wirfs was wearing diapers when Tom Brady took his first snap in the NFL. Let that sink in, Bucs fans.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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