Bucs’ receivers need to show their hands

by Gary Shelton on August 19, 2021

in general

Jaelon Darden still finding his niche./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 3 a.m.

Right now, one of the primary strengths of the Tampa Bay Bucs isn't showing it.

The wide receiver corps, deep and accomplished, sputtered in the team's joint practice with the Tennessee Titans on Wednesday, troubling head coach Bruce Arians. If you don't catch the ball, it seems, it doesn't matter how open you are.

"I know one thing – we dropped way too many damn passes," Arians snarled after practice. "We have to stop that."

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Arians was asked what he attributed the drops to.

"They dropped it," Arians said. "Catch it. Shit, [there] ain't no excuse. They're perfectly thrown balls – you catch the damn thing.

"If it's Mike [Evans] or Chris [Godwin] or ‘Gronk’ (Rob Gronkowski), no (he's not concerned. But if it's young players, yes. Maybe the lights are too big. We'll go back and evaluate it but way too many drops."

Arians didn't think quarterback Tom Brady had a good day, either.

"I didn't think he was very sharp," Arians said. "Our third-down percentage I think was really poor in that one. We took some shots downfield on first down [and] guys were open. He made some really good throws that were dropped, too. We'll grade the tape, but I didn't come off the field saying he wowed everybody."

Brady said the team was still seeking its rhythm.

"It’s one thing if we miss a pass, if we [drop] a pass," Brady said. "I’m just concerned with us doing the things that we talked about doing and executing them the right way. The throwing and catching, blocking and tackling – that’s for the game. If you catch every ball out here and then go in the game and you drop it, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to work on the fundamentals out here, work on our communication, be on the same page and we can definitely do a much better job of that.”

Brady acknowledged the problems with the passing game.

“We didn’t connect that much today so hopefully we can really learn from today," Brady said. "I always hate not competing and then saying, ‘Oh, we’re going to learn from it.’ The reality is we’ve got to learn from when things don’t go well – how do we respond early, how do we respond in the middle and how do we respond in the third quarter? I’ve been in games when we’ve been down a lot of points, and we came back and won. Just because it doesn’t go well early, you can’t just say, ‘Oh you know it will be there tomorrow’ or ‘Let’s figure it out tomorrow.’ We’ve got a lot of learning to do and we have to push it. We have a certain amount of time before Dallas. Every game is not going to be easy. Every play isn’t going to be easy, but we have to fight our way out of everything.”

Of course, the Titans played a part in that. Tennessee reached the playoffs a year ago and is favored to do it again this year.

“They’re good," Brady said. They have a lot of good players. It’s a good scheme. They keep things moving, they blitz, they play coverage, they have some disguises. They do what good defenses do. They challenge you to think. We have to be much more on top of things tomorrow.”

Arians said it was good to work against another team.

"You know you're going to get all the situational work: red zone, third down, first down stuff, run-pass options," Arians said. "You put them in certain scenarios that sometimes never happen in a game. They ran out of offensive linemen, so we missed a couple scenarios where it was 10 seconds or 16 seconds left at the end of the half or the end of the game. So we didn't get to go to those scenarios but that's the stuff you teach on, you go against yourself. It's normally a walk-through period."

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