-It's hard to believe that after so much time in the league that there are still things quarterback Tom Brady can improve upon but in his second season with the Buccaneers in Head Coach Bruce Arians' offense, Arians says Brady is doing just that.
"I'd put Tom [Brady] up there first," said Arians of players he's seen the most growth in this season. "I think Leonard [Fournette] on offense. All the rookies have really done a good job. I'd hoped they would and they're really ready to play. Defensively, probably Joe [Tryon-Shoyinka]. I think Devin [White] is playing his role really, really well and I think Jamel Dean has improved a bunch."
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks after all. That growth may be no more evident than against the Bucs' Week Seven opponent. Last season in Chicago against the Bears, Brady committed maybe the most obvious faux pas in years when he held up four fingers to the sideline after a fourth-down incompletion he though had actually come on third down. Yeah, Brady lost track of the downs. Brady was still in the whirlwind period of getting used to a drastically different system than the one he had been used to operating for two decades. But he's come a long way since then – even if it was only about a year ago.
"It seems like a long time ago, but actually it wasn't that long ago," Brady said Thursday. "Yeah, that hasn't happened very often in my career; for some reason it happened in that moment. But yeah, that was a tough loss and I think we learned a lot from that loss last year. There [were] a lot of self-inflicted issues, there [were] a lot of penalties, there was a lot of miscommunication, there [were] a lot of things that weren't clean. And then ultimately, we have a chance to win the game in two-minute by going down and kicking a field goal, and we don't get the job done. So, penalties, not coming through in critical situations – I think that's something that we've come through in critical situations. We've cut down on the penalties, but we've got to stress that and continue to stress that all the time. It's not like that's ever a finished subject, either. You've got to work at it every day. You've got to sharpen your skills. You take nothing for granted. You come out here every day with the mindset you're going to work to improve and get better and gain the trust of your teammates and coaches. You can't take the foot off the gas at all. You've got to put it in every day, you've got to prove to everybody what you want to become."
-The Bucs, along with Brady, will have the chance to bounce back from their most self-inflicted loss of 2020 when the Bears come to town. Their top-ranked rushing defense will be put on display as Chicago comes to town with their seventh-ranked rushing offense. It's kind of their only offense and unfortunately for them, they're missing lead back David Montgomery, who is still on injured reserve. Khalil Herbert has filled in admirably for the missing Montgomery, though – totaling 75 yards on the ground in the Bears' last two games. That's where the test for the Bucs' defense will come in.
"Oh, it is every week, yeah," said Arians. "Same thing last week, and the way they run it. I really like the running back, and the quarterback adds another dimension. It'll be a really good test for us, two good forces – their run game, our run defense – so it should be fun."
In fact, the Bucs' defense allowed their highest rushing total against the Eagles last week, letting Philadelphia compile over 100 yards on the ground. Most came on a couple chunk plays in the fourth quarter when the Bucs were almost certainly expecting quarterback Jalen Hurts to pass the ball. It was the first time the Buccaneer defense had allowed an opponent over 100 yards rushing since Super Bowl LV. The defense knows that isn't the expectation, though.
"I don't need to remind them," said Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles. "The film speaks for itself. We just try to get better every week and work on the little things. Even though it happened late in the game, we can't let that happen – from a coaching [standpoint], as far as calling the game, and as far as them making plays playing the game. We work at it every week."
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