Antonio Brown shines against the Dolphins

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed wide receiver Antonio Brown in the offseason, they knew that he had the potential to make big plays as he’s done throughout his whole career.

On Sunday, that big-play ability was on full display. Brown, who became the fastest player to 900 receptions, caught seven passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including a 62-year touchdown reception as the Buccaneers defeated the Dolphins 45-17 at Raymond James Stadium.

“That is something I am very grateful for, but you know, I couldn’t do it by myself,” Brown said about being the fastest player to 900 receptions. “I’ve been able to play with some great quarterbacks – Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady. It’s a blessing to play with guys like that and be able to get the ball and be on that trajectory.”

The 33-year-old Brown(20 receptions, 325 yards, three touchdowns this season) has had his share of issues off the field, and according to Brown, those issues have made him a better person today.

“In life, we all need conflict,” Brown said. “We all need to go through things to shape our purpose and make us better. If we always sat here and didn’t go through anything, we would not appreciate life, or we wouldn’t be able to grow. I think the things I went through were able to prepare me to grow and make me a better person. I’m glad to be here today.”

Tom Brady, who threw five touchdowns passes on Sunday and developed a close bond with Brown when the two were in New England, gave Brown a lot of credit for keeping his focus on football during the tough times.

“So much, I think since the day we met – obviously I’ve admired him and watched him for a long time and obviously played with him briefly in New England, and [we] just struck up a great relationship, and [I] really wanted to see him get things,” Brady said. “Sometimes things take us away from what we really love to do in football – I think he’s done an incredible job personally of putting a lot of those things aside and just focusing on football and just showing everyone how great he is.”

The Buccaneers have many weapons on the outside in Brown, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin.  According to Brady, Tampa Bay has the best wide receivers in football.

“Mike [Evans] is a great player, Chris [Godwin] is a great player, Tyler [Johnson] made some plays,” he said. ‘”So, everybody is really contributing, and it’s fun to see from my standpoint, all these different guys of different ages all kind of coming together as a group and being, I think, the best group of receivers in the league.”

Brown is playing at a fairly high level, which could be bad news for rest of the league.

Buccaneers tag WR Chris Godwin

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have applied its franchise tag on wide receiver Chris Godwin, the team announced on Tuesday.

Godwin, 25, is expected to make around $16 million next season. Last season, Godwin finished second on the Buccaneers with 65 receptions and 840 yards. He also tallied seven receiving touchdowns for Tampa Bay, which tied for second among all Buccaneers in 2020.

In the playoffs, Godwin recorded 16 receptions for 232 yards and one touchdown. His 16 postseason receptions and 232 receiving yards each marked the most in a single postseason in franchise history.

In his four seasons with the Buccaneers, Godwin has totaled 244 receptions for 3,540 yards (14.5 avg.) and 24 touchdowns. He earned both Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors in 2019 after a career season, which saw him finish third in the NFL in receiving yards (1,333).

Godwin is a dynamic receiver, and with him and Evans together, Tampa Bay has one of the better wide receivers tandems in football. It should be interesting to see if they will bring free agent WR Antonio Brown back, which makes the wide receivers room even better. However, for now, Evans and Godwin will be together for at least another year.

 

Bucs’ Evans: ‘Our roster, I feel like, is the most talented roster in the league’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has never played this late into a season. In fact, this is his first time being in the playoffs. Evans, who was a limited participant at practice on Wednesday due to a knee injury he suffered in Week 17 against the Falcons, played well in his first career playoff game and finished with six catches for 119 yards in Tampa Bay’s 31-23 road victory over the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card game last Saturday night.

For Evans, playing in his first playoff game was special to the seven-year veteran.

“It meant a lot. I haven’t been to the playoffs – it was my first time, first game in the playoffs,” Evans said on Wednesday. “I was excited to play, it was great weather [and] we had a great week of preparation. It just meant a lot to be out there and to try to make plays to help my team win. The goal is to do enough each week to play the next week, so that’s what we’re doing this week.”

Now, the Buccaneers prepare for a familiar foe in Divisional Round, as they travel to New Orleans to battle the Saints, who have beaten Tampa Bay twice this season and five times overall. In 2020, New Orleans outscored the Buccaneers 72-26, including the Saints’ 38-3 victory over Tampa Bay in November.

According to Evans, who became the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, Tampa Bay is a much different team since that November matchup.

“I feel like we’re getting healthier,’ he said. “Our roster, I feel like, is the most talented roster in the league. We started off as a good team because we just have a lot of great players on our team. But now, we’re forming into a great team. We’ve just got to keep going each week, battling, finding ways to get better, and finding ways to win tough games.”

Even though Tampa Bay has not beaten New Orleans in five tries, Evans believes the Saints are Tampa’s biggest rival.

“It’s definitely a great rivalry,” he said. “When we play each other, [there] is a lot of emotion, a lot of physicality. As players, we love it – we love this rivalry. I know the fans love it. I would say it is our biggest rivalry.”

New Orleans has Tampa Bay’s number at this point, but it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, so that could work in the Buccaneers’ favor. They have the talent to defeat New Orleans, but based on what we have seen in the regular season, it won’t be easy.

 

Bucs’ Arians on Brady: ‘I envisioned 40 [touchdowns]’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady gave the team everything they could ask for in 2020. He led them to 11 wins after Tampa Bay(11-5) defeated the Falcons 44-27 on Sunday. The 11 wins are tied for the second most wins in a single season in team history and the first season with at least 11 wins since 2005. With the victory, the Buccaneers will be the 5th-seed in the NFC playoffs and play the Washington Football Team on Saturday night.

Brady also threw 40 touchdowns this season, a franchise-record, and the second time Brady has thrown 40 or more touchdowns in a season. He also surpassed Peyton Manning (37 in 2012 with Denver) for the most touchdown passes in NFL history by a player in his first season with a team (includes rookies).

After the game, the 43-year-old Brady discussed throwing 40 touchdowns in 2020.

“Whatever happens for me as a quarterback is reflective of what our group does on offense,” Brady said. “I love playing with the guys I play with. We’ve got a great group of receivers, great group of tight ends – very selfless – the backs have done an incredible job. The way the offensive line is playing and protecting gives any quarterback a great opportunity. It’s a team sport – those are great team accomplishments. Just proud of all the guys [for] what they put in this year. Now we’re moving into the playoffs. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, and we’ve got to go try and take advantage of it.”

According to Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, he expected Brady to throw 40 touchdowns this season.

“I think he broke Peyton Manning’s record for [touchdown passes] being [in the first season] with a team [by] throwing 40 touchdowns,” he said. “I think Peyton had 37, so I know he’ll like that [and] Peyton will be pissed. When we first met, that’s really what we talked about – the guys that we have and what he could do with the players that we have. Adding Rob Gronkowski to the mix just helped. I envisioned 40 [touchdowns]. When he first signed, I said, ‘OK, we’ll be a 40 [touchdown] and 10 [interception] team.’ I was expecting practice; I was expecting OTAs and those things. What he’s done with none of that – especially this last half of the season – is incredible.”

Buccaneers WR Mike Evans also had a milestone on Sunday before leaving the game with a knee injury in the second quarter. Evans surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the seventh-straight season. Evans is the first player in NFL history with at least 1,000 receiving yards in seven consecutive seasons to begin his career, surpassing Randy Moss (six straight seasons). Evans finished his seventh season with a franchise-record 13 receiving touchdowns.

Regarding Evans, Arians did say after the game that he does not think Evans has any “serious damage” to his knee.

if Tampa Bay can win three games, probably all on the road, they will be the first team to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium. It won’t be easy, but you have Brady, so anything is possible

No matter what happens, the next few weeks should be interesting!

Buccaneers’ Evans: ‘We want to go as far as we can’

On Saturday against the Detroit Lions(5-10), Buccaneers QB Tom Brady had a game for the ages. In his one half of game action, Brady completed 22-of-27 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, with zero turnovers, earning a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Brady was done after the first half, and Tampa Bay(10-5) led 34-0 at the break. The Buccaneers would go on to defeat the Lions 47-7 at Ford Field.

With the victory, Tampa Bay clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2007.

“I love playing and the teammates that I have, I always feel like I never want to let them down,” Brady said. “I know it’s been that way for 21 years of my career. I just try to show up and do the best I can do every week and every day and realize that the competition isn’t only on Sunday; the competition is every day of the week. I’ve got a lot of guys on this team this year that have made a great commitment to one another, and we’re committed to being the best that we can be.”

For many players on this Buccaneers’ roster, including the guys who have been in Tampa Bay the longest, like Mike Evans, LaVonte David, and William Gholston, this will be their first time in the postseason. 

David has spent his whole nine-year career in Tampa Bay and was emotional after the game.

“After the game, me and Will [Gholson] hugged each other,” David said. “He was one of the guys who was here next to me. Mike [Evans] in the locker room – I broke it down, and Mike just gave me a big hug in the locker room. A lot of guys, staff, everybody was like, ‘It’s about time.’ They [said] they’re proud of me, and they’re happy for me. It’s a great feeling. Gerald [McCoy] – we talk throughout the week. Gerald is one of my closest friends and one of my biggest supporters and vice versa. He’s happy for me [and] I’m sure I have a bunch of messages from him being excited for me and everything. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m blessed to be a part of it. Now the question is, what’s next? We have to keep on climbing and keep on grinding. We’ve got a chance to get in the tournament, so now it’s about what you’re going to do while you’re there.”

Evans, who had 10 catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday, and has spent all seven years of his career in Tampa, is hoping for a deep playoff run.

“It was a great moment [and] a great experience,” Evans said. “We’ve been scratching and clawing every single year to try to make the tournament. It’s been seven years for me, nine for Lavonte [David], and eight for Will Gholston. It’s been a journey, but we are happy we finally accomplished it, and that’s just where it starts. We want to go as far as we can.”

Gholston, an eight-year veteran, all with Tampa Bay, was able to clinch a playoff spot in his hometown of Detroit.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “To have the performance we had to be able to clinch, for me to be able to clinch in my hometown, [and] to know all the hard work we put in all these days through the pandemic – to be able to achieve one of our goals – it’s a beautiful thing.”

Tampa Bay was built to win this season, and now they are in the playoffs. What happens from this point on will define the 2020 season.

Bucs’ Evans on Brady: ‘We need him to play like that week-in and week-out if we want to be the special team’

On Sunday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had Buccaneers fans thinking about 2019 when the Chargers’ Michael Davis intercepted Brady and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Ultimately, Brady and the Buccaneers would be down 24-7 in the second quarter, but unlike last season when Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions, the Buccaneers would turn things around. After the pick-six, Brady would throw four touchdowns, and Tampa Bay would defeat Los Angeles at home 38-31.

The 43-year-old Brady would finish the game 30/46 for 369 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.

“He’s the G.O.A.T,” Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis said after the game. “That’s as simple as I can put it. He’s the G.O.A.T. – Tom Brady. He’s a great player, even better to play off of him. Having him go down and score touchdowns gives us a lot more energy on our sidelines and just gives the whole sideline more confidence and the comeback we had today.”

Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians added: “I thought he just played outstanding. I just have to coach him up better on that one play and just get it coached better. He played fantastic and was lights out in the second half.”

The Buccaneers got the victory on Sunday, but Brady would like to see Tampa Bay play well for the whole game.

“We put ourselves in a pretty good hole, and we were going to have to dig our way out of it. That’s just the way football works sometimes – just have to tighten some things up,” Brady said. “Glad we came back – defense made a big play for us before the end of the [first] half, and that got us ignited a little bit. We made some plays in the third quarter and made some good plays in the fourth quarter. Started the game well [and] finished the game well – that middle part – we have to figure out how to play 60 minutes well.”

According to Buccaneers WR Mike Evans, who had seven receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown on Sunday, Tampa Bay needs Brady to play the way he did on Sunday to be a great team in 2020.

“We all know his track record and his résumé,” Evans said about Brady. “It speaks for itself. We need him to play like that week-in and week-out if we want to be the special team that we think we are capable of being. We have to utmost confidence in Tom [Brady]. He had a hell of a game today.”

If Brady does play at this level the rest of the way, the Buccaneers 2020 season could be very special.

Brady thinks Mike Evans will be a Hall of Famer

In 2007, then Patriots WR Randy Moss had the best season of his Hall of Fame career. Moss had an NFL record 23 receiving touchdowns that season, and the guy who threw Moss those touchdown passes, Tom Brady, threw a then NFL record 50 touchdown passes. The Patriots went undefeated in the regular season that year, and while it did not end with a championship for Brady, it was probably his best season.

Fast forward to 2020, Brady is now 43 years old and is playing with another big-time receiver in Mike Evans. The 27-year-old Evans has been over one-thousand receiving yards in each of the first six seasons of his career. Ironically enough, the three-time Pro Bowler joined Moss as the only wide receivers to have over one-thousand receiving yards in each of their first six seasons in the NFL. 

Like Moss, Evans is tall and athletic, and on Thursday, Brady was asked to compare Evans and Moss. According to Brady, Evans could join Moss in the Hall of Fame.

“From a physical standpoint – both [have] big bodies, big catch radiuses, and great body control,” Brady said. “[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.”

After two games with Brady this season, Evans, who has been slowed by a hamstring injury, has eight catches for 106 yards and two touchdown receptions.

Moss is one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history, and yes, if Evans keeps playing at a high level, he could join Moss, and eventually, Brady in the Hall of Fame.

 

Bucs’ Godwin on Evans: ‘I think he’s still one of the more underrated receivers in the league’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have established themselves as one of the best wide receiver duos in football. Last season, Evans and Godwin both had over one-thousand receiving years, and both made the Pro Bowl.

Evans, 27, has been over one-thousand receiving yards in each of the first six seasons of his career. The three-time Pro Bowler joined Randy Moss as the only wide receivers to have over one-thousand receiving yards in each of their first six seasons in the league. Despite the numbers, Godwin believes Evans is underrated. 

“Everyone knows how dominant Mike is,” Godwin said during a video call on Monday. “I think he’s still one of the more underrated receivers in the league. Every time we go out there and work, we just go out there, and we push each other. He knows he can lean on me, I know I can lean on him.

“We know that together we’re going to push each other to be the best that we can be. Like B.A. (Bruce Arians) was saying, we’re team-first guys. I think the biggest thing with us is if we’re winning – yes, we feel like us contributing is going to be to the team’s benefit, but at the end of the day if we win, that’s the most important thing.”

Godwin, 24, has also developed into an excellent receiver. In 2019, Godwin had career-highs in receptions(86), receiving yards(1333), and touchdowns(9). The fourth-year wide receiver can be a free agent at the end of the season. However, Godwin hopes he can continue to play alongside Evans for years to come.

“I think that would be really dope,” Godwin said. “I think me and Mike have grown so much over the last couple of years. Like I said, that’s someone I really look up to. I admire him, and he has helped me so much. Keeping that intact would definitely be something that is beneficial for all of us. That’s my guy. Anything I can do to roll with him, I’m rolling.”

Many believe with the additions of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski that Tampa Bay’s offense can be special, and according to Godwin, it could happen if the team avoids mistakes. 

“I don’t know if we’re quite there yet, but what I will say is that if we’re able to significantly reduce, not only the turnovers, but the mental errors on everybody’s part – if we’re able to keep pulling the rope in the same direction, I think it’s pretty scary what our offense can be,” Godwin said. “I’m not really sure if there’s a limit on that. We’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve done some really good things so far in camp, but by no means are we where we need to be. We’ve got some time, and we’ve got the right guys with the right mentalities, so we should all keep getting after it.”

Bucs’ Evans on team’s wideouts: ‘We’re going to be even better top to bottom’

Throughout his career, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady has not always had a lot of weapons, especially in his final season with the Patriots. In 2019, Rob Gronkowski retired, and New England released wide receivers Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon. Even without a lot of weapons, Brady was solid last season. He threw for 4057 yards with 24 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.  

Now, in his first season in Tampa Bay, Brady will have a ton of weapons. Both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin had over one-thousand receiving yards in 2019. They have a Hall of Fame-caliber tight end in Gronkowski. Also, they have solid tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Entering his 21st season in the league, this is probably Brady’s greatest collection of weapons, and according to Evans, Tampa will have even more talent in the wide receiver room this season.

“Every year, it’s our goal to have the best wide receiver room in the league,” Evans said via a Zoom call on Tuesday. “Last year, I thought we definitely had that. This year, we’re going to be even better top to bottom. J-Wat (Justin Watson), he improves every single year – like the quickness at the line of scrimmage, his routes, he’s more physical, he’s running faster [and] he catches the ball better. Scotty [Miller] is improving.

“All of our guys keep improving year-in and year-out, and that’s a testament to coaching and just our work ethic. This year hopefully, we have a great year and can be a catalyst for this team.”

In six NFL seasons, Evans has six one-thousand receiving yard seasons, and with Brady in the mix, Buccaneers wide receivers coach Kevin Garver believes Evans could be even better this season.

“Mike has a lot of respect for Tom, so I think Tom’s going to help him push through things and compete at the highest level,” Garner said. “I think that’s the number one thing that will help Mike. Then, just the little things. That’s really the thing I’ve been stressing with Mike all offseason. Getting in at the right depths, being in the right catch-reception area, using the right technique. I think those are the things Mike is focusing on. Obviously, he’s got to do those things on his own, but playing with a guy like Tom, I think does help just from a motivational standpoint when you’re playing with a quarterback of his caliber.”

Last season, Jameis Winston was able to throw for over 5000 yards with this collection of  receivers, so even at 43, Brady should be able to put up comparable numbers with this offense, which will help Evans and the rest of Tampa’s weapons in 2020.

Mike Evans suspended one game by NFL

MIKE EVANS of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been suspended without pay for one game for violations of unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness rules in Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints.

NFL Vice President of Football Operations JON RUNYAN issued the suspension for a violation of Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 – which prohibits unsportsmanlike conduct, including “any act which is contrary to the generally understood principles of sportsmanship,” such as (a) “throwing a punch, or a forearm, or kicking at an opponent, even though no contact is made” – as well as Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6 (g) which states that “there shall be no unnecessary roughness. This shall include, but will not be limited to: (g) unnecessarily running, diving into, cutting or throwing the body against or on a player who (1) is out of the play or (2) should not have reasonably anticipated such contact by an opponent, before or after the ball is dead;”

In his letter to Evans, Runyan wrote:

“During the third quarter, after a play had ended, you struck an unsuspecting opponent in the back, knocking him to the ground. Your conduct clearly did not reflect the high standards of sportsmanship expected of a professional.”

Evans will be eligible to return to the Buccaneers’ active roster on Monday, November 13 following the team’s November 12 game against the New York Jets.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension may be appealed within three business days. Appeals are heard and decided by either DERRICK BROOKS or JAMES THRASH, the officers jointly appointed and compensated by the NFL and NFLPA to decide appeals of on-field player discipline.