-Head Coach Bruce Arians received the 2020 Champion for Equality award from the Women's Sports Foundation on Wednesday night. He was presented the prestigious honor by the founder of the WSF, Billie Jean King herself. Arians and King have formed a friendship over the years and she has followed his career and all the doors he has opened for women within the sports industry.
The presentation even included a message from Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.
-Thursday saw media availability with the Bucs' coordinators and Todd Bowles talked about the challenge the Bucs will face going up against a Green Bay offense that has had a bye week to get healthy and get their number one receiver in Davante Adams back. They'll also have to contend with running back Aaron Jones, who is also utilized in the passing game, and a quarterback in Aaron Rodgers that can find the open man no matter what is thrown at him.
"It's tough because Adams is a great receiver – no doubt about it – but Rodgers throws to everybody," said Bowles. "They've got about three or four tight ends, the running backs catch the ball out of the backfield, all the other receivers are playing good ball and he spreads the ball around to whoever's open. Davante coming back is a big lift for them, I'm sure, but he spreads the ball around pretty good and those other guys are playing very well. We've got to cover everybody, and we've got to win our matchups."
The Bucs will likely have their own number one receivers ready to go for Sunday's game in both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The latter has been out with a hamstring injury but returned to practice this week. With the running back room also thought to be healthy heading into Sunday's game, this may be the first time since the beginning of the season that the Bucs will have the majority of their offensive arsenal available. As a result, establishing a rhythm is something that has been a challenge for the Bucs' offense.
"It's been unfortunate," said Evans about the injuries so far this season. "Obviously, there's been a lot of injuries around the league – myself included. It's just been unfortunate. I'm a guy that likes to practice and get that repetition in. I play receiver, [so] I have to be in shape to get the timing down with the quarterbacks and get that look and get that feel for the games. I'm definitely confident in my abilities if I don't practice through the week – I'm confident that I can go out there and do my job on Sunday. It's just been unfortunate and hopefully it can turn around and we can start getting healthy on the back end of the season."
"It's tough, but it's the reality," said quarterback Tom Brady. "There's an old saying, 'It is what it is,' but that's really the way it is. It's just what we have to deal with, and I think everyone's dealing with things that are probably a little tricky this year with practice, meetings and all sorts of different protocols in place and gatherings and all those. Everything has its unique challenges, but everyone's dealing with the same thing. The reality is we've got to execute well to go win the game and execute well over the course of 60 minutes. That's what it's going to take to win."
Execution includes all phases of the offense, including the ground game that has come on strong in the last two contests. Running back Ronald Jones is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and it has a lot to do with the guys blocking for him, as he readily admitted. And he's not just talking about the offensive line. A guy like tight end Rob Gronkowski has also played a crucial role in both run blocking and pass protection while he waits his turn for more targets.
"He told you guys he was a blocker, right?" Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich laughed. "He helps. To have a big guy like that on the edge – I think it's really the physicality that we're playing with up front. Our guys are playing extremely physical, they're getting a hat on a hat, they're getting to their guy [and] we're doing a really good job of getting to the second level of defenses. I think RoJo (Ronald Jones II) is doing a better job, too, of understanding where the ball needs to go and where we need to insert the ball. Sometimes that takes time. I think we've been doing a good job of that the past couple weeks of getting Ro in position [and] our guys up front being very physical, getting a hat on a hat [and] getting us open lanes so he can be able to run the ball."
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