How the Buccaneers became Tom Brady’s best fit in his quest to win a Super Bowl without the Patriots


first_imgMORE: Why Tom Brady is joining the BuccaneersThe Bucs weren’t the obvious choice when it became apparent Brady could leave New England. But they reportedly were willing to give him the most bucks — potentially $30 million per season over two years, according to NFL Media — on top of selling him on the winning potential of a team that finished 7-9 last season.As with most moves in NFL free agency, a familiar face helped make the deal possible for Brady — Bucs general manager Jason Licht, who once served as Patriots director of.player personnel under Bill Belichick. Licht was intent on working with Brady again, so much so that he gave Brady a $7 million raise despite his coming off a down season at age 42.The next layer was a respected coach with whom Brady could mesh as well as he did with Belichick. That’s Bruce Arians, who is exactly the same age (67) with the same confidence in his own football philosophies and zero tolerance for players not doing their jobs.MORE: Fantasy analysis of Brady to Bucs (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/db/ab/bruce-arians-09222019-getty-ftr_1l3v9t5bwygz816pznd9v2hgsj.jpg?t=-349703496&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/27/74/tom-brady-021220-getty-ftrjpg_u82zfrkhip2c1j8ik5xe3uvvx.jpg?t=989915864&w=500&quality=80 Tom Brady to Tampa Bay will soon be a reality.Hours after the greatest NFL quarterback of all time officially parted ways with the Patriots, reports indicate the 42-year-old has made his long-awaited NFL free agency decision to join the Buccaneers. When digging deeper into the Bucs, it was clear that of all the QB-needy teams, they offered the best resume with the most upside. It doesn’t hurt that they are in the NFC, which just crowned an unpredictable big-turnaround champion in the 49ers last season.There was some talk of Brady fitting in a place such as Los Angeles with the Chargers, Las Vegas with the Raiders and even Nashville with the Titans. But in the end, throughout his career, his favorite landing spot has been the Super Bowl.Guess where Super Bowl 55 will be played: In Tampa. Outside of New England, for Brady, the Bucs represented both the extended journey and the destination no other team could match. (SN Illustration) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/1b/7d/tom-brady-bucs-031720-getty-ftr_174e708jcyg8q141y3obmutxvi.png?t=-352271920&w=500&quality=80 The bonus is that Arians is offensive-minded, a QB guru at heart who has worked to get the best out of Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer and, yes, despite those interceptions, Jameis Winston. Both Arians and his offensive coordinator protege Byron Leftwich will be malleable to adjust their offense to Brady’s strengths and style. At only 40 and as a former NFL QB, Leftwich can be more of a peer to Brady, much like Josh McDaniels was in New England.While Brady saw the cupboard go bare in New England with tight end Rob Gronkowski retiring and makeshift wide receivers beyond Julian Edelman, Tampa Bay is fully stocked for his convenience. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are now the best staring duo in the league, and the potential re-signing of Breshard Perriman — even without the crazy wild card of bringing in Antonio Brown — might give the Bucs the best trio, too. That’s before getting to the fact the Bucs have not one, but two Gronk-light receiving tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate.The Bucs did see Winston throw for 5,109 yards and 33 TDs last season. But he had 30 interceptions to lead the league, while Brady, even in a grind of a season physically, had only eight. Arians likes his QBs flinging it in the downfield passing game. Brady likes to be efficient in his distribution of the ball all over the field. With the receiving personnel the Bucs have, including some strong after-the-catch skills, they can find a happy medium of enough big plays with much fewer big mistakes. The Bucs’ defense was No. 1 against the run in a vast improvement last year. The key now is re-signing Ndamukong Suh. Their pass rush got going in the first year of Todd Bowles’ 3-4 scheme, with Shaquil Barrett (19.5 sacks) leading the league and Jason Pierre-Paul rejuvenated. Both of those players will be back. As the season progressed, the Bucs found more answers in the secondary to back that up.During his last season with the Patriots, Brady was supported by the No. 1 total defense in the NFL. The Buccaneers finished 15th, but that was an amazing improvement from being a terrible No. 27 the season before. The arrow is pointing up for Bowles’ defense to push into the top 10.You can bet Brady, beyond hearing the money the Bucs were willing to pay him, made sure Tampa Bay was the best possible place for him to try to win a championship apart from Belichick and the Patriots.MORE: Patriots among losers of NFL free agency The Bucs have more to do on offense. They must get better at right tackle and right guard, but they’re better than you think at left tackle through center. Brady will make the protection look better regardless with his ability to shuffle in the pocket and get the ball out quickly instead of holding it and looking for the deep shot. Regardless, the Bucs should aim to land a dominant edge blocker in the first round of the draft.The Buccaneers ranked only 24th in rushing offense last year. But the Patriots were only a few notches better at No. 18. If the Bucs don’t replace Ronald Jones as the power back, too, they at least need a strong pass-catching back from either the rest of free agency or in the draft. At this point, no one will be surprised if Melvin Gordon is sharing the backfield with Brady soon.When the Bucs make a big short-term “all in” move like signing Brady, with their ample salary cap space, their next move is doing everything they can to support their big investment with smart smaller ones tailored to the QB.last_img read more

Tough luck for Gilliland


first_img“I don’t know what the 38 was doing,” Kahne said. “First off, he’s hard to pass. Then you get by him and he’s two laps down and he starts battling. I let him go and he still didn’t pass me. I have no idea what he was thinking, but that’s the way it goes.” Gilliland said the goal was to keep from wrecking despite the “hairy” track conditions. “(The wrecks) were right in front of me,” he said. “It was a busy day for that. We’re happy that we brought the car home in one piece. That’s a lot more than some other guys can say.” EARNHARDT’S GOOF Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s momentary brain hiccup cost him a likely top-five finish. Late in the race, Earnhardt was running sixth when he followed Jeff Burton into the pits during a caution with 16 laps to go. There was only one problem: Burton was pitting because his car was broken and needed immediate repair. The pits weren’t open yet, signaled by a red light at the start of pit road. As a result, Earnhardt was given a penalty and had to start at the back of the pack. He finished 11th. “The pit road was closed and I didn’t see, or wasn’t looking,” he said. “I didn’t even think if it was closed or open. You’re not thinking about that. “I’m sad for my team because we should have finished fifth or sixth. But I’m just happy we got to finish one, finally.” Earnhardt needed a good finish after two DNFs to start the season, a result that put him in jeopardy of souring his season after just three races. Instead, he moved up 12 spots from 40th to 28th. Drivers must be in the top 35 after the first five races in order to be locked into the field each week. THANKS FOR NOTHING Casey Mears finished 40th after getting caught up in a wreck caused by Orange County’s Robby Gordon on the eighth lap of the race. “It amazes me – every time I think Robby can’t do anything more stupid than he’s already done, he one-ups himself,” Mears said. “It’s ridiculous. He’s trying to pull off something in the first opening laps when it means nothing. I guess he’s trying to be a hero.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LAS VEGAS – Considering there are seven former Chase for the Nextel Cup participants behind him in the standings after three races, life could be worse for David Gilliland. The former Inland Empire resident finished 21st in Sunday’s NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a result that dropped him one spot to 12th in the season standings. After avoiding several wrecks, including a pair of spinning cars right in front of him, Gilliland was eventually lapped by race leader Jimmie Johnson on the 90th lap. He later went two laps down after a pit stop with 50 laps remaining, effectively ending his chances at a top-20 finish. “We needed to start where we finished with our car,” he said. “It would have been great. But we didn’t.” Gilliland drew the ire of driver Kasey Kahne after a wreck late in the race. Kahne was running in the top 10, but spun out and crashed while driving next to Gilliland’s No. 38 M&Ms Ford with about 20 laps remaining. The two cars didn’t make contact, but Kahne blamed Gilliland for the incident. After the race, he approached Gilliland’s hauler before being shooed away by crew members. center_img “We just kind of struggled with the car, but we weren’t the only ones today, you know,” he said. Gilliland crashed his primary car during qualifying on Friday and was forced to use a backup. NASCAR rules dictate that switching cars after qualifying necessitates starting from the rear of the field. last_img read more