Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the NFL preseason in 2020, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady did not have an opportunity to go live with the new offense in Tampa Bay until the regular season.
However, as the year progressed, Brady learned the offense, and ultimately, the Buccaneers were able to win Super Bowl LV.
This season, the 44-year-old Brady will have a full preseason and is expected to play when the Buccaneers host the Bengals in their preseason opener on Saturday night.
“It’s been seven months or so since we’ve gone up against a team – not that everybody is game-planning, but everybody has different techniques and styles that everyone is working on,” Brady said this week. “Things that they’ve done in the offseason maybe that they’re trying to implement. You do it against your own team for a while, and then you go up against another team. You kind of have the stuff you have been doing and see how it works against a new opponent.
“It’s a good opportunity for us and really a good opportunity for a lot of guys to play. Last year, you kind of have the same group that plays most of the whole season. Now you have a new group of guys in here – a lot of guys are going to get different opportunities, and you’ve got to see what they can make of it.”
Brady, who had knee surgery in the offseason, feels very comfortable with the offense and feels good physically.
“A year ago, three weeks into camp, I was still trying to figure out formations,” he said. “What does ‘Tampa right’ mean, you know? I don’t even know what that means. Now, it just kind of rattles off your tongue. You get used to similar ideas and concepts, but they’re all named differently. It would kind of be like English and Spanish. You have to literally learn a different language and then really kind of learn what you’re doing. Then, you have to learn if your players can do it, and then you have to study how the defense is doing things. So, there are a lot of different challenges that you face. I think for me this year, mentally, it’s been much better and much easier to kind of assimilate my way into camp.
“Physically, I feel great – the best I’ve felt really in a long time. I feel like I’m in a good place, and I’m just going to keep working really hard. We’ve got about three and a half weeks or so before the first game [and] we started three and a half weeks ago, so we’re about midway through camp. Going to really keep working at pressing that communication, but we’re definitely making improvements. We’re going to have to keep making improvements to be where we want to be by the opener against Dallas.”
As he enters his 22nd season in the NFL, Brady has a lot of confidence in his team and believes they can have another successful season.
“Right now, you have 32 teams that all think they’re going to be the team that wins it,” he said. “You want to put yourself in a position to play well in training camp so you can be ready for the opener. You want to play well in September so you can be ready for October. This is all just a part of the process of getting ready. I have a lot of confidence in our team. I’ve played with our guys for a year now, and I know what it’s like in the huddle with them. I know how we can work throughout the week, how we can put together a plan, and that will give a great opportunity to to go out there and be successful.”
It’s hard to repeat in the NFL, and the last team to do it was Brady’s 2004 Patriots, so if he did before, maybe he can do it again.