Bucs try again to get weapons in sync

by Gary Shelton on September 26, 2020

in general

Brady tries to grow in the offense./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 2 a.m.

So far, the world is not on fire.

Tom Brady has been okay...but short of great. In two games, he has thrown for three touchowns...and three interceptions. He is a rating of 79.3, 17.6 points below his career average. He is 24th in the NFL in passing yards.

In other words, the band is still warming up. Mike Evans was a non-factor in the team's first game. Chris Godwin didn't play in the second. Rob Gronkowski has been largely invisible in both. Leonard Fournette, as a running back, was pedestrian in his first game and superb in his second.

And so, in the thin air of Denver, Brady tries again Sunday.

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"The more you’re together, the more you talk, the more you communicate, the more you practice (and) play together, the situations come up," Brady said. "So much is non-verbal communication. What did you see? What did I see? As long as we both see it the same way, that’s important. It’s hard if one guy (says), ‘I saw this. Well, I saw this.’ Then mistakes happen. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the learning process. I’ve played a lot of football. I have in my mind what I think is going to happen, or what has happened for me over 20 years and the conversations I’ve had, but unfortunately I’ve never had those conversations with this group of players, and that’s just part of it. It’s just the way it is. You can’t replicate live, game-time reps. You’ve got to just do it on the practice field, talk through (mistakes). Unfortunately, when it happens during a game, you’ve got to really take those to heart, learn from them and try to improve them. I love working with our group of receivers [and] our tight ends. We’re off to a decent start. We’ve got to really build on it and try to make as many improvements as quickly as possible.”

Arians thinks playing time will solve the problem.

“I think everybody’s just getting a little more continuity," Arians said. "Mike didn’t practice for eight (or) nine days, then Chris didn’t practice for seven days. It looked more like our offense in practice this week with everybody out there practicing. We were more in sync. We’re not where we need to be yet, but we’re getting closer and closer.”

Denver is winless in two games, but its defense is fifth against the run and the pass.

For all the talk that Gronkowski has just two catches in two games (11 yards), Gronk doesn't seem worried.

“I’m a blocking tight end," he said. "I came here to block, baby. Four targets is four more than I thought I was going to get.

“I feel good. It feels good just to be out there and playing football again. Going out there with the guys – we won last week, which was great. Just get that feeling of a win again felt good. Just going out, practicing throughout the week and preparing – it feels good to be out there just playing the game of football. [I] just have to keep working hard, though. There’s always areas where I can improve big time, especially in the pass game a lot. It doesn’t matter if you get a lot of passes called your way. If I’m not ready, then it’s never going to work. Just have to be ready at all times and just improve my game both in the pass game and the run game. I can definitely improve.”

Meshing the Bucs' weapons has to become comfortable, said offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“That’s why you try to make it organic," Leftwich said. "That’s why you try not to force the ball because in the preparation, you try to put guys in position that the read [and] the progression sends us to a place where we like our matchup. We think that way, and when I’m coming up with these plays, I think that way. It’s not really tough because [of] how these guys are focused on just winning football games. They’re more focused on winning football games – we’re not really thinking about individual things. That means nothing to us. We’re trying to do what we can as a team to try and win football games. Whatever that takes – all the guys are sold in [and] all the guys have all hands on deck to do what we need to do to try to win games.”

The bottom line. The Broncos do enough little things to make it more of a game than you might think. But the Bucs need to be able to beat a winless team with its backup quarterback.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 20, Denver 17.

Other predictions:

Florida 27, Ole Miss 17.

Miami 24, FSU 20.

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