Bruce Arians sent Tampa Bay Buccaneers players back to their high school days before Monday’s primetime showdown with the Los Angeles Rams.
WTSP’s Grace Remington reported on the Buccaneers’ “Friday Night Lights” practice via Twitter on Nov. 20.
Friday Night Lights: NFL style
Bruce Arians is serious about fixing those primetime woes. Today's practice was moved to 7:30p at Raymond James stadium to simulate MNF.
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) November 21, 2020
Arians changed up the practice schedule ahead of the Monday night game with the Rams because of lackluster performances by the Bucs in previous primetime games. The Bucs (7-3) lost 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints (8-2) on Sunday Night Football Nov. 8, a week after escaping the Meadowlands with a 25-23 win over the New York Giants (3-7). Tampa’s first primetime game on Thursday Night Football ended in a 20-19 loss to the Chicago Bears (5-5).
“We have stunk in those games,” Arians said, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine, in a press conference last week.
“We’ve got to try something because we’ve had really, really poor starts in night ballgames,” Arians said according to Laine. “What we’re trying to do now is practice at night so that we know when to rev it up.”
NFL.com’s Kevin Patra wrote that Arians said they could take advantage of the team’s indoor practice facility for night practices. The Bucs used Raymond James Stadium for their Nov. 20 practice instead.
Laine wrote the Bucs practiced Friday and Saturday night as part of the practice schedule changes. The Bucs had a daytime practice Thursday last week.
Brady, Gronk React
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady hopes it will change things under the lights, according to NBC Sports’ Mike Florio.
“It’s about our process and trying to go out there and do a good job,” Brady said in the Nov. 20 press conference according to Florio. “Whatever it takes for us to play well, that’s what [Bruce Arians] is interested in, so that’s what we’re focused on.”
Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played with Brady in New England before they joined the Bucs, puts it upon himself to set the tone in night games, Laine wrote.
“I’m a guy that’s been in primetime many times, so if we want to turn it around, it definitely starts with a guy like myself, who has plenty of experience of playing at night,” Gronkowski said in a press conference last week according to Laine.
Big Stakes Game
Tampa has more at stake Monday night than righting the ship on primetime games.
The Los Angeles Rams (6-3) hold the No. 6 seed if the regular season ended before tonight, and the Bucs would have the No. 5 seed. Catching the Saints, who have the top seed, looks more daunting for the Bucs after Saints quarterback Taysum Hill shined his debut Sunday against the Falcons per ESPN. The Saints own the tie-breaker with the Bucs due to a season sweep.
A loss to the Rams could drop the Bucs to the seventh seed, held by the Arizona Cardinals (6-4). It muddies the playoff picture for the Bucs since the Bears lurk at No. 8 and followed by the Vikings (4-6) at No. 9, a team the Bucs play Dec. 13.
The Bucs’ schedule only gets harder, too, with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) coming to town next Sunday in Week 12. Tampa Bay Times writer Rick Stroud noted that these next two games could determine the season.
It’s time for the Bucs to ‘rev it up’ as Arians said.