-Tom Brady was named FedEx Air Player of the Week on Wednesday for the 13*th* time in his career and third time as a Buccaneer. In fact, he last won the award in Week 17 of last season, meaning he starts the 2021 regular season how he ended the 2020 one.
It came after Brady threw for 379 passing yards with four touchdowns against two interceptions that can't really be held against him in the team's season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys. One interception came on a hail mary attempt before the half. The other came as it sailed in and out of the hands of running back Leonard Fournette. The fact that deflected and dropped interceptions count against the quarterback is a debate for another time, but it didn't hinder fans from voting for Brady to receive the award. The 22nd-year quarterback was up against opponent Dak Prescott and Las Vegas Raiders Derek Carr – who both had solid performances, as well.
-If the award wasn't proof enough that Brady playing as well as he's ever played, he came in at No. 2 in NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal's weekly QB ind*ex, with some added, and maybe a little incredulous, praise from the NFL analyst.*
"Brady was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded passer from Week 13 forward last season -- and he just topped the PFF board again in Week 1 of 2021," writes Rosenthal. "Justin Herbert, sensational in every respect, was outplayed by a man who was in the NFL when Herbert was 2 years old. Composing a "Tom Brady is still good" take is one of the most challenging endeavors a writer can embark on -- hasn't it all been said before? -- but I'm fascinated about the shape of Brady's latest peak. He's a different player, making "wow" throws more consistently. His average depth of target is deeper than it's ever been. He is way more fun to watch at 44 than he was at 24."
Looks like Arians' 'No risk-it, no biscuit' system is paying off. That average depth of target is likely due to the fact that Arians (and Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich) scheme up a lot more deep shots. Arians has infamously said that there's a touchdown and checkdown available to the quarterback on every play – and it looks like Brady, at 44 years old, is taking the former more often. With his four touchdown passes in week one, that puts him on pace for a whopping 68 touchdown passes on the year. I would say that seems farfetched but are we really going to cast doubt on a man who at 43 had the second-most passing touchdowns of his career with 40 last season? Oh, and we're giving him another regular season game this year to do it.
-Brady wasn't the only one to win an award as punter Bradley Pinion was named the NFC's Special Teams Player of the Week. Pinion had three punts inside the 10 and another right at the 10 in Thursday night's win. All of his other kicks went for touchbacks.
In true punter form, Pinion also deflected any and all praise when he met with the media on Wednesday.
Hey, punters are people too and we need to talk more about how good Pinion consistently is.
-After getting the unfortunate new that cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting's elbow injury will likely be long-term, the Bucs secondary got some good news in that safety Jordan Whitehead returned to practice in a full capacity. Whitehead had missed the majority of training camp with injury and even played Super Bowl LV with a later-revealed torn labrum. He's been working his way back from a hamstring injury and Arians said Wednesday they expect him to be in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Falcons as of right now.
It would allow the secondary a lot more flexibility and bring with it a lot more depth and therefore, insurance, against injury. Arians said they got 'real thin, real fast' in Thursday's game after Murphy-Bunting went down. Safety Mike Edwards suffered cramps later in the game, resulting in safety Andrew Adams entering the game. Though he was with the team last year, Adams departed in free agency and was only brought back to the Bucs earlier that week. He was elevated from the practice squad on the day of the game itself. So getting Whitehead back will be key to keeping up with the secondary's lofty goals this year.
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