Bucs brace for ‘powerful’ Broncos team

by Gary Shelton on September 24, 2020

in general

Brady still fine-tuning his game./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

According to Bruce Arians, the Denver Broncos have the NFL right where it wants them.

Injured quarterback? No sweat.

Limping wide receiver? Who cares?

A season record of 0-2? Big whoop.

Okay, okay. You can accuse Arians of coach-speak, the art of building up one's opponent. Not that it matters. If the Bucs lose to an aching Broncos team Sunday, no one is going to want to hear of all the shades of wonderfulness of the Broncos.

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Ah, but that's what coaches do. It's a mystery that every opponent isn't unbeaten.

Just ask Bruce.

“They’re a damn good football team," said Arians, the coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, who play the Broncos Sunday. "They can beat anybody on their schedule. They had a chance to win that one, even with injuries, and they should’ve won the first one. Their tape doesn’t lie – they’re good.”

They'll have to be good behind backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, the former University of Florida player. Driskel is 1-7 in his NFL career with Cincinnati and Detroit, and he's thrown seven interceptions in six games.

“He’s been around for a while," Arians said. "I’ve (faced) him a couple of times. He’s a heck of an athlete [and] has a great arm. I thought he played really well against Pittsburgh – against a really good defense – bringing them back (and) almost had a shot to win it there at the end. He’s a quality guy. He can beat you with his legs and he can beat you with his arm. He’s a smart guy and I thought he handled that situation he was in last week like a pro does.”

The Bucs, said Arians, won't look past Denver.

“I don’t think we’re anybody that can let our guard down," Arians said. "We haven’t done [anything]. We better be strapped on and ready to go. They’re a very well-coached football team and everybody’s got injuries. We’re nobody to look past anybody, so that message was passed.”

The game marks a return to Denver for Shaq Barrett, who started his career with the Broncos. Barrett is off to a slow start this season.

"Just keep rushing and don’t get caught up with the hype," Arians said he would advise Barrett. "Just win. It’s not about numbers, it’s about winning. Congratulate those other guys when they get the sacks.”

The interior of the defensive line has played well with the attention that Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul have received.

“That helps a bunch," Arians said. "Those guys worked their tails off in the offseason to get bigger (and) stronger, working on their toolbox (and]getting better moves. The attention that Jason and Shaq (receive) is sometimes going to open it up for those inside guys. They’re going to pressure that pocket and those outside guys are going to continue to get their sacks, also.”

Bucs' quarterback Tom Brady will play his third game for the Bucs as he tries to grow into his role.

“I think it’s clearly still a work in progress," said quarterback coach Clyde Christiansen. "I’ve said before that at times it looks like he’s a guy running somebody else’s offense. Each week, each day, it gets closer to him running his offense – our offense, all of our offense. It’s going to take a little time. It was whatever the opposite of a perfect storm is, just not to have those reps in the offseason, not to have March (and) April to work through some of these kinks and to get to know each other. You wish that this was the second preseason game and you’re working through those things, but it’s not. We’re in the season and we just have to accelerate it. It’s happening, but it’s happening slowly. It’s not a done process yet. It’s certainly not done yet.”

Sunday's game begins at 4:25 p.m. at Denver's Mile-High Stadium.

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