-The Buccaneers Women of Red held a virtual 'Football is Back' event on Wednesday night where 1,500 women signed up to hear from a whole lineup of Buccaneers players and staff. The night was kicked off by Buccaneers Co-Owner and President of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Foundation and Glazer Vision Foundation Darcie Glazer Kassewitz. Team reporter Casey Phillips was then joined by General Manager Jason Licht, who went through the process of acquiring this year's biggest free agent in quarterback Tom Brady. It was a full-circle moment for Licht, who was on staff at the New England Patriots for a total of six years. Licht also talked what the draft process was like during quarantine and getting input from his kids in the form of sticky notes left all over the house.
Then, viewers were able to listen in on a panel that consisted of women who serve in various capacities within football for the Buccaneers. Participants were Director of Football Research Jackie Davidson, Director of Performance Nutrition Stephanie Kolloff-O'Neil, assistant strength and conditioning coach Maral Javadifar, assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and scouting assistant Carly Helfand. The discussion centered around their various roles within the organization and their experiences so far in the NFL.
Then it was time for a conversation with tight end Rob Gronkowski who took – and took to – fan questions. The questions ranged from what advice he would give to his younger self (pro tip: pay attention to details, he said) to if he came with a warning label, what it would say. In true Gronk fashion, he was ready for the latter question proclaiming his warning label would say, "DANGER: HIGH VOLTAGE."
Gronkowski also touched on how happy he is to be part of an organization that has employed women on the football side and in coaching. He said he's learned a lot, especially working with Javadifar in the weight room and that he's benefited from her knowledge of how to take care of himself.
The evening concluded with some surprise raffle prizes that included Gronk and Brady signed footballs. See the full event below.
-Speaking of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, a new episode of "Tommy and Gronky" was released Thursday. This week, they're tackling 'dad jokes' and yes, it's absolutely as funny as you think it is.
-The game against Denver will be a sort of homecoming for outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, as we've talked a lot about this week. We finally got to hear from Barrett on Thursday and get his feelings on what it will be like to face his former team.
"It's going to feel good to go back there, try to get another win," he said. "That's the most important thing – to come out as a winner and be 2-1 so we can be on the right page for setting us up for the rest of the season. I just want to show them that they did have the chance to have me and they let me go. I'm happy with my situation down here – I love it. It's literally the best plan that could have happened and worked out."
To get that win that Barrett spoke of, the defense will have to put forth a solid effort. They've done so the past two weeks but it was a common sentiment among the coaches who spoke this week that they kind of took their foot off the gas in the second half. That's something that can't happen, said Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles.
"The play calling is fine and what they do on the field is fine," Bowles said. "But, when you get a lead like that and you try to play certain coverages, you can't lax in your technique and fundamentals. It's more of what I'm talking about. No matter who we play, what the score is or how sound they are in the first half, the second half has to be a four-quarter game. It can't be a two-and-a-half or three-quarter game – or a three-and-a-half-quarter game. We understand from a fundamental standpoint, we have to go back to basics and we have to finish the game."
The defense can be helped by the offense putting up points and giving the Bucs a comfortable lead. That could be aided by both wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans having a full week of practice together for the first time this season. Evans missed the first two weeks of practice with a hamstring injury, though he ended up playing in the season opener in New Orleans. Godwin missed last game due to a concussion. They are both practicing fully and getting some much-needed field work in within a game-planning situation.
"We were great in the beginning of camp and we were getting a lot of reps in," said Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. "Any time you have those two guys out there healthy, you're going to look different when those guys are out there. Like I said, we lost Mike right before Week 1, then we lost Chris, so it's good to have both of those guys out there in the huddle. We know what they bring to us as a team [and] we know that these are our playmakers. These are two of our playmakers [so] you want to be able to put those guys on the field as much as possible. But, the key is being able to really practice with them out there so we can keep developing and keep making sure we're on the same page."
And Evans himself spoke on Thursday about how much he loves being on the field with Godwin, how much he loves being his teammate and pretty much just how much he loves Godwin period.
"It definitely helps," Evans said about having Godwin on the field with him. "Like I said, we're a much better team when we have Chris and myself out there. We're two of the best the game has to offer, but that's just my boy. He gets me riled up to play, I get on him [and] we get hyped before the games. We're just brothers out there, really just playing. It's easy to play with a guy that you really like, so me and him enjoy playing with each other and I'm happy to have him back this week."
It was an offensive love-fest all around with quarterback Tom Brady then gushing about Evans and what it's been like to play with him, even comparing him to Evans' idol in Hall of Famer Randy Moss, who Brady played with in New England.
"From a physical standpoint – both [have] big bodies, big catch radiuses and great body control," said Brady of Moss and Evans. "[They have] great understanding of the game – feel, instincts, [etc.]. Randy is a Hall of Famer. I think Mike is going to be one too and it's been amazing to play with him. I love playing with Mike. He's been just spectacular from the day I met him. I admired him from afar for a long time. I'm just blessed to play with him and Chris [Godwin with] what he's accomplished in his short time in the NFL. I think those two guys really lead the charge for our receivers and they're great mentors for the young players we have. We're just going to keep working hard every day to try and be on the same page more and more."
Quite. The. Praise.
Bucs Tweet of the Day: #TeamTampaBay