Tom Brady Sr. jumped on the phone the morning after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released its 2021 schedule to let all of Boston and beyond how he thinks his famed son’s homecoming will go.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady left the New England Patriots after 20 seasons as a free agent in March 2020 and transformed the culture of a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game since the 2002 season. The Patriots meanwhile struggled without Brady in 2020, but his return to face his old head coach Bill Belichick remained a must-see game for 2021.
“I saw the schedule come out last night, and I started salivating when I saw that we play the Patriots in the fourth game of the season and that we’re coming up here to make our record 4-0 after the fourth game, so it’s a pretty fun time,” Brady Sr. told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Scott Zolak and Marc “Beetle” Bertrand on Thursday.
Brady Sr. stood his ground when questioned if the Bucs would really start 4-0.
“You know, they’re all tough. You look at them and there’s no walk-overs,” Brady Sr. said. “But coming back home to Boston, it’s our second home here, and the Patriots are our second favorite team, it’s a game where we get to root against nobody. We get to root for the Patriots, but our most favorite team of course is the Buccaneers, so we expect to beat the Patriots rather handily, frankly.”
The latest Bucs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Bucs newsletter here!
Analyst: Bucs-Patriots Will Be Close
ESPN’s Louis Riddick doesn’t believe the Bucs will just roll through Foxboro for Brady and Gronkowski’s homecoming. That’s despite the Bucs returning everyone and the Patriots making significant roster moves this offseason.
“I really do feel that although New England has added a lot of pieces starting with free agency and how Bill (Belichick) really did strategically go ahead and supplement this roster, I think that this team is going to gel very quickly,” Riddick said. “So I don’t think you going to see a team just go ahead and move the football up and down the field on this team like we saw happen to the Patriots late in the season last year.”
Tampa opposed its will offensively often in the 2020 postseason but went 0-3 in the regular season against teams with top-five defenses — the top-ranked Los Angeles Rams and third-ranked New Orleans Saints. The Bucs beat the Saints and Washington, ranked second in defense, in the NFC Playoff. It took a while to get substantial points on the board though with nine first-quarter points between those two games.
“And then on the offensive side, they’re going to return to doing what they believe wins on no matter what … a heavy run, play-action type of offensive scheme,” Riddick said on ESPN about the Patriots. “The key is at quarterback.”
That’s where Tampa’s defense most recently shined, shutting down a gauntlet of quarterbacks in the postseason — Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. Even an upset-minded Taylor Heinicke with Washington couldn’t get the job done in the end against the Bucs defense. The Patriots have Cam Newton, who had a career-worst season in 2020, and a rookie in Mac Jones.
“This is going to be a good old-fashioned black-and-blue type of football game,” Riddick said on ESPN.
A Steep Price
Attending the Bucs-Patriots clash will come at a high price — a Super Bowl-like high.
Ticket prices for the Week 4 game reached as high as $8,862 according to Bleacher Report’s Master Tesfatsion. The low is $1,400.
The last Super Bowl that allowed a capacity crowd, Super Bowl LIV, had ticket prices in the $4,000 range for the low according to Eli Boettger of Sporting News.