As NFL teams begin full practices, every club is going through adjustments playing football during the COVID-19.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are dealing with their own unique challenges on top of the unique challenges the league is facing. The franchise is ushering in the Tom Brady-era, attempting to synchronize the future Hall-of-Famer with his new weapons in Bruce Arians’ system.
“It’s my 30th year of playing football, including high school, and it’s the first time I’ve ever had an offensive head coach. That provides something a little different for the quarterback,” Brady tells Peter King of NBC Sports.
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Tom Brady Giving Tight End O.J. Howard Praise
Not all quarterbacks have Brady’s command and not many run a practice how Brady runs his. King shares a sequence from Tampa Bay’s practice, as the long-time NFL scribe was able to make a visit to the Buccaneers’ camp.
“Juice!” Brady called out. “Keep those shoulders square.”
Then Brady stood in place, pumping his arms like pistons, up and down.
“Right here!” Still pumping his arms. “Last minute . . . Catch it on your hip,” Brady said, with some garbled words in the middle.
Howard explained to King exactly what Brady meant.
“When he says, ‘Shoulders square,’ if you watch me on film, and he watched me, watched me a lot, I’d be running a vertical route, not going as fast as I should have,” Howard told King. “That’s because I’d be running a vertical route, but I’d look back and it’d slow me down. He’d say, ‘Keep those shoulders square. Don’t slow down for me. Six, eight yards, pump your arms, sell it like a go route—I’ll get you the ball.”
Brady has been impressed with Howard so far in camp just as he was when the QB conducted private workouts back in May. During King’s time at Tampa Bay’s camp, the scribe could see why, calling Howard the player who performed the best.
“When Tom does that,” Howard said of the coaching point, “it’s huge for me to hear. I worked on that all offseason, a bad habit I had to break. He puts it in my head every day. That’s what a true leader does. He does it in a humble way. So chill. That’s Tom Brady, one of the best to ever play our game, and every day he’s got something for me to make me better.”
Bruce Arians Believes Brady Has Margin For Error
Last season, Brady had to be so precise with passes, threading the needle to Julian Edleman and a group of receivers who couldn’t get much separation. This year, Brady has a cast of uber-athletic playmakers that just want the ball in their vicinity.
“Tom’s used to audibling so much and we haven’t asked our guys to audible that much in the last few years,” Bruce Arians said. “Going back to [coaching] Peyton, he’d have three plays in the huddle. And he might run a fourth one, because he saw something he liked. Tom can do those types of things. We’ll give him those types of things to do but right now it’s just, Let’s get it all down pat, which he probably has 90 percent of it in the book right now in his mind.”