-Quarterback Tom Brady is experiencing another first this weekend – facing his former team. The New England Patriots are the only team in the league Brady has never played (or beaten) for that matter. He aims to do both this weekend. Given his two decades of experience in New England, he's more than familiar with the inner workings of the organization and many of the players he's going to face this weekend.
He's also very familiar with his former coach, who was there for all 20 of those years he was a Patriot.
"He's a great coach, obviously a great coach," Brady said. "[He] has everyone prepared, does a great job of that. Obviously, I've said before, [he] taught me a lot. He was a great mentor for me for a long time and I really enjoyed my time in New England. But at the same time, I'm super excited about what we've done here. I've got a great group of coaches here, an amazing group of guys that still motivate me and inspire me to be the best I can be for this team and this organization. The last 18 months have been very fulfilling in a lot of different ways and I love my football experience here, as well. I've been very blessed. I went [to] high school football, where I fell in love with [football]. I went to Michigan, which was amazing for me – had its challenges but I learned a lot. The 20 years in New England were incredible. I learned a lot. Coming down here for a year-and-a-half I've learned a lot. I have nothing but incredible thoughts, memories, emotions towards all of the kinds of football experiences I've had. That's obviously one that was the longest and I still have a lot of great friends there, but they know I want to kick their butt this week. They'll know exactly how I'm feeling once I'm out there."
The ultimate competitor. You gotta love it.
-At the end of the day, this is just a football game when it comes to the win-loss column and after the Bucs suffered their first loss last weekend in Los Angeles, they'll be looking to bounce back. Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich spoke about that defense that Brady is so familiar with and what stands out about them.
"Anytime you play that defense with how well coached they are, how multiple they are up front … 20 years ago, it seemed like the same guys but different numbers," Leftwich sad. "It almost looked like the same bodies – the same type of bodies. They like a certain type of player, a certain type of body type on defense. They're always smart. They're always smart. You never see them making a mistake. You never see them making a bone-head play. That's why they've had the success that they've had. They're a well-coached team. They're always prepared to play, so it should be fun Sunday night. It's a challenge for anybody that plays against them to make sure you're on your homework, make sure you're going everything you need to do to have success. That's what makes it fun. That's what going to make Sunday night fun. You know you're going against a good opponent who's well-coached. You get an opportunity to test and see where you're at."
-The Bucs' defense made their own headlines this week when the organization signed veteran cornerback Richard Sherman – because apparently the storylines heading into 'The Return' weren't enough. When it rains, it pours in Tampa, right? But Sherman being on the team and actually playing are two different things.
"It's still early," said Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles following Sherman's second practice with the team. "We've still got a lot of injuries to go over and everything else like that. But he's practicing and we're letting him learn some things, so in case he has to, he can go out there and function at a high level and do the right things."
Bowles will also be looking for his defense to be more productive in the pass rush. After recording just three sacks across the first three games of the season, he sees room for improvement that should help the defense all around.
"It's not a problem," Bowles said. "Sometimes we get there and the ball is out. Sometimes we cover and they don't get there. It's a combination of everything. It's Week 3. We're working at it and we're close. One aspect or the other is letting it down at the wrong time and the timing is not there yet, but we'll get that part together and we'll straighten it out."
-Bowles has put an emphasis on it and his players have followed suit.
"We just have to win," outside linebacker Shaq Barrett says about their matchups at the line. "Bring the mentality that no matter what we are doing – stunting, chip blocks, one-on-ones – we just have to win when we get our opportunities. I haven't been winning enough and I've been working on it in practice, making sure I get back to where I need to be at. Just have to win. Just keep winning and sometimes you win on the three-step drop and you won't get there, but you just have to keep winning because they will hold the ball. When they do hold the ball, we have to be there. It won't be a one sack game for us ever again. We'll have more than one sack every game from here on out."
-If you want your chance to witness this historic game for yourself, none other than Gronk is giving you that chance. His Gronk Nation Youth Foundation is hosting a raffle where you could win two tickets to the game plus a travel reimbursement plus other great prizes. Plus, Captain Ralphie Sparrow says you should donate so I don't really know why you haven't already.
Bucs Tweet of the Day: Another episode of Tommy & Gronky is here!