By: Michelle Sabin
Tom Brady took on Drew Brees for what was supposed to be one of the greatest matchups in football this week; pinning two of the best quarterbacks in the league against each other as division rivals.
Dear Tom, welcome to the Bucs family.
The wins are hard to come by, the losses often follow a lead, and all four quarters can be frustrating to play. Week 1 of the 2020 season proved to be just as tough for the Buccaneers, as they fell to the Saints 23-34.
Tom Brady debuted Saturday as the Bucs new quarterback. He scored a rushing 2-yard touchdown on the opening drive, and threw for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, the team could not pull off the win and the frustrations on offense were clear on Brady’s face throughout the game.
His very first pass on the opening drive was incomplete to Tight End OJ Howard, and shortly thereafter Brady threw an interception on a pass intended for receiver Mike Evans. It appeared Evans failed to follow through on his route, as Brady fired the ball right into the hands of the Saints.
In the second quarter, on a play intended for Tight End Rob Gronkowski, Brady was pushed backwards out of the pocket and sacked for a loss. The former Patriots teammate could only stand there watching, with his hands in the air in disappointment.
Coach Arians acknowledged the team has a lot of things to correct and said, “we knew we had a tough opponent and would have to play well and we didn’t play well.”
Ultimately, Arians does not credit the Saints with beating the Bucs, but instead said it was the things the Bucs did to themselves that lost the game. This is a repeat theme – the Bucs beating the Bucs – seen both last year under Arians and in past seasons. Arians takes full responsibility for the team not correcting the issue, reporting “I thought we had that fixed; obviously I did not do a very good job of getting that fixed.”
He was speaking to dropped passes, interceptions, missed opportunities for turnovers, and the aggravating penalties including offsides on the Bucs defense allowing a fourth down conversion for the Saints.
Brady agreed, acknowledging his own mistakes and saying “we had opportunities out there to make plays and just came up short. There are no excuses. We are the only ones who can do something about it.”
However, all was not lost on Sunday. Arians believes Brady showed a “total grasp” of the Buccaneers offense and was on top of it during the game. While Brady recognized his teammates who he said made some great plays, adding “the receivers played their butts off, tight ends played really hard; backs ran really hard.”
Receiver Mike Evans, who was questionable to start due to a hamstring injury, was held to one touchdown in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Arians and Brady were quick to say that the Evans should be credited with yardage lost on the Saints’ pass interference penalties. Arians added, “to me he had 100 yards. You get that many pass interference calls, those are yards.”
On the other side of the ball, Arians feels the defense played really well the whole second half. He referred to the defense as outstanding saying “they gave us a chance to win.” Despite the outcome in Week 1, Arians predicts that the Buccaneers can win their division this fall.
It is no secret the Buccaneers have talent across the board, and the key ingredients for a great football team. They will be back to work on Tuesday getting ready for their home opener against Carolina on September 20. Both teams will be looking for redemption in Week 2, as the Panthers just lost 30-34 to the Las Vegas Raiders.
One benefit of playing at home in 2020 is that the home team controls the energy in the building by controlling the noise. To make up for the lack of fans this year, the NFL teams are pumping in artificial cheers (and boos) during the games. Arians reported that the New Orleans stadium lacked energy because it wasn’t loud enough. He added, “I would have liked to have it really loud. We are ok with noise.”
Next Sunday, Raymond James Stadium should be ready to turn up the noise and energy in the building as the Buccaneers prepare for their first home win of the season.