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Tom Brady Wins FedEx Air Player of the Week & Preparing for a 'New' Season | Carmen Catches Up

The Bucs’ quarterback isn’t done setting records and how the team is approaching their first game of the 2021 playoffs.

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-He's done it again. Quarterback Tom Brady was named the FedEx Air Player of the Week after his performance in Week 18 as the Buccaneers topped the Carolina Panthers in their regular season finale. Brady was 29-of-37 for 326 yards and three touchdowns against zero interceptions for a 130.4 passer rating. His yardage total was the second-highest in the league for Week 18, while his three touchdowns tied for third-most and his passer rating the fourth-highest. It's the 15th time Brady has won this award in his career – the most in league history. This is the third time this season alone he has won the award. Brady now won FedEx Air Player of the Week honors five times in Tampa Bay – the most in team history.

-With the regular season now behind them, the Bucs are switching gears.

"As soon as everybody walked into the building today – 2021 is over," said Head Coach Bruce Arians. "This is a whole new season, and nothing matters except winning this week, and everybody is in tune to that. You can feel it in the building."

Perhaps that means switching into a higher gear.

"Overall, I would say it was a pretty good season from team-wise to my personal stance of my play," said tight end Rob Gronkowski. "That doesn't matter now [because] the regular season is done now, and we have to carry that into the playoffs now. If we want to win and not go home, you have to amp it up a notch. You have to make sure that you're on top of your game at all times because there's a couple of times during the season where you're not really on top of your game. A majority of the time, you're on top of your game in the regular season, but now, it's playoff time and you have to make sure you're amped, you have the energy levels high and that you're ready to go every single play because every play is huge in the playoffs."

Wide receiver Mike Evans went so far as to say the Bucs will need to be the most physical team come Sunday at 1 p.m. They have an experienced secondary and a defense that ended the regular season ranked 10th overall. Evans joked he's hoping for more man coverage, something he and his 6'5 frame thrive against, but he isn't holding his breath. Instead, he's planning on switching it up.

"Oh, no matter who's in our lineup, I always have the most coverage for some reason, even though we have All-Pro guys and Hall of Fame guys out there," said Evans. "Somehow the attention goes towards me and that's fine. I like the gameplan this week. I'm in a lot of different spots and hopefully, I can make a huge impact."

Who else could make a big impact? Running back Leonard Fournette. Though he's not officially back on the active roster, he has entered the 21-day designated to return window, along with inside linebacker Lavonte David and fellow running back Giovani Bernard. Fournette was key to the Bucs' success last time they played Philly - not to mention, as center Ryan Jensen puts it, key to the Bucs' playoff run last year.

"I think 'Lenny' (Leonard Fournette) has been in the training room working his butt off and getting ready to get back, get healthy and come help us win some more playoff games," Jensen said. "Obviously last year going into the playoffs we really established the run, and we played a pretty balanced style of football. I think getting back to the run game and doing what we're doing in the passing game is going to complement itself very well."

That's only the half of it, though. The Bucs' defense will have to contend with Philly's top-ranked rushing attack, led by their quarterback, no less. Jalen Hurts finished the 2021 regular season with 784 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, tying for sixth-most in the league. That will likely prove the biggest challenge for this Bucs defense, who are hoping to get guys like Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul back in the lineup.

"The keys for up front – like the interior defensive line – are we've got to make sure we stay in our gaps and change the line of scrimmage," said defensive tackle Will Gholston. "With a dynamic offense like they've been having – No. 1 in almost all rushing categories – and to have a quarterback like that … same as we played them in the beginning of the year, [Jalen Hurts] is dynamic, he is great and he does open it up for everybody. You've got to be able to stop the run and the pass."

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