The National Football League today announced that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, becoming the first player in team history to garner Offensive Player of the Month recognition. He also became one of just four quarterbacks in NFL history to have won both AFC and NFC Offensive Player of the Month awards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon, former NFL MVP Boomer Esiason and two-time Pro Bowler Vinny Testaverde. Brady remains the NFL’s all-time leader in Player of the Month Awards, earning the 11th of his storied career.
Over four games in the month of October, Brady completed 105-of-159 passes (66.0 percent) for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns, with just one interception, earning a 110.0 passer rating. Brady led all quarterbacks with his 12 passing touchdowns and a 12:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the month, while leading all players with 13 total touchdowns. He also ranked fourth across the league in passing yards (1,157) and passer rating (110.0). He led an offense that ranked second in the NFL in points per game (35.0) in October, while ranking eighth in yards per game (400.3) and sixth in passing yards per game (284.3). Tampa Bay went 3-1 in October, under Brady’s guidance, and is off to a 5-2 start – the team’s best record through seven games since 2010.
Brady began the month with a 369-yard, five-touchdown performance against the Los Angeles Chargers on his way to NFC Offensive Player of the Week and FedEx Air Player of the Week honors for Week 4. He closed the month of October in similar fashion, accounting for 369 passing yards and five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in a 45-20 win over the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 7. Brady enters November with 559 career touchdown passes, surpassing Drew Brees (558 – active) for the most regular-season touchdown passes in NFL history.
In his first year with the Buccaneers, Brady ranks second in the NFL with 18 touchdown passes – the most by a Tampa Bay quarterback through seven games in team history. He also ranks sixth in the league with 1,910 passing yards and 10th with a 102.7 passer rating.
Tampa Bay has claimed an NFC Player of the Month award in back-to-back months to begin the season after linebacker Lavonte David earned NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in September. This marks the second time in team history that multiple Buccaneers players have won either offensive or defensive monthly awards in the same season, along with the 2002 season when Derrick Brooks (October) and Simeon Rice (November) each claimed the defensive award.
Logan Ryan has played in 131 NFL regular-season and postseason games, which means he has participated in many hundreds of practices. But today the eight-year veteran experienced a practice first – he wore a mask.
“(It was) not too comfortable, but this is 2020,” Ryan said in a post-practice Zoom call. “A lot of things we have to adjust for, a lot of curveballs. I’m not complaining, got the best job in the world. I got used to it pretty quickly.”
Giants players were required to wear masks as part of the more intensive protocols mandated by the NFL after guard Will Hernandez was today placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Giants practiced in a downpour as they began preparing for their game Monday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The new protocols include a mandate that meetings must be conducted virtually unless they are in an area large enough to allow social distancing.
The Giants, like all teams, are used to such requirements and are unfazed by them.
“So far, everything has been normal,” Ryan said. “Practiced out there on the field, meeting as normal. How we have to adjust is just what the NFL protocols will be. I wasn’t here in the spring, but I am familiar with the Zoom app, I am a millennial. I’ll turn it on and make sure my kids aren’t doing backflips. I’ll have to mute myself a little bit. I’ll be super locked in. It’s important, it’s a big game. It’s Tom Brady and the crew coming to town. I’ll definitely be in the meetings, prepared and ready to go.”
The protocols are an enhanced extension of the regimen the players have followed since the spring, when team facilities were closed, learning was remote and on-field instruction was prohibited.
Ryan was a free agent who didn’t join the Giants until Sept. 4, but that hasn’t precluded him from appreciating the COVID-19 induced weirdness.
“It’s a year I’m going to remember, for sure,” Ryan said. “Everybody is going to remember this. Everyone has to adjust in every walk of life. That comes to NFL players, that comes to NFL practice. That’s definitely been an adjustment with a lot of things. You know you have to take it for what it is. This is what we signed up for. I didn’t opt out, I signed up to play. I knew there was going to be some curveballs in there.
“I think that (coach) Joe (Judge) has been extremely flexible. I think the Giants have done a great job handling everything the best they can. We just have to go with what the NFL protocol is. Whatever they tell us is what we have to do, is what we’ve done. We’re not the first team to go through this, we won’t be the last. We just have to handle it the best we can, which I feel like we have. It’s definitely going to be a year I remember.”
If you’re an Eagles fan, there are two games that you want to win more than any other, and that’s against the hated Dallas Cowboys, who the Eagles will battle this Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
However, this week’s game is a little more significant. While both teams are struggling, there is still a division to be won, and at this point, the Eagles(2-4-1), who hold the top spot in the NFC East, are 1/2 game up on the Cowboys(2-5). If Dallas wins, they reclaim first place in the NFC East, but a win for Philadelphia would increase their lead over Dallas.
It’s Dallas week, and Eagles head coach Doug Pederson knows how that feels as a player and coach. On Wednesday, Pederson discussed playing the Cowboys.
“Yeah, you know I do. It’s always a great week,” Pederson said. “It’s an exciting week anytime you play any of our division opponents, division rivals. This is no different. We’re on Sunday Night Football, and we’re excited again to be in the national spotlight to be in another home game. Feeding off hopefully a little bit of momentum from last Thursday, but it’s something that you look at both teams, and maybe there’s not the same lust or excitement from the game.
“Maybe the two teams are struggling or whatever it is — but listen, it’s always the Dallas Cowboys. I remember back in ’99 when I played here, and I can think of the fans are always like, hey there’s two games every year that you really got to win, and it’s the two Dallas game. That’s a part of the excitement this week. The guys are excited. I know Dallas will be excited coming up here. Looking forward to playing.”
This is a very winnable game for the Eagles, but so was last against the Giants, and the Eagles needed a big-time fourth quarter out of Carson Wentz to get the victory. The Cowboys will be without injured QB Andy Dalton, and in his place is Ben DiNucci, who was a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft and will be making his first career start on Sunday. Furthermore, the Cowboys don’t play defense and are 27th in total defense, and are allowing almost 35(34.7) points per game, so the Eagles have a great chance here. However, it’s a rivalry game, which means anything can happen.
Antonio Brown to the Buccaneers is now official. On Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that they had signed seven-time Pro Bowler. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, it’s a one-year deal.
The 32-year-old Brown was suspended eight games by the NFL for violating the league’s personal conduct policy and can return in Week 9.
In Tampa Bay, Brown will be reunited with Tom Brady and Bruce Arians, his offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, which should help him.
The 10-year veteran, released by the Raiders and Patriots last season, ranks in the top five all-time in receptions per game (second, 6.4) and receiving yards per game (fourth, 86.0) players with at least 50 games played. Also, he ranks 28th in NFL history in receptions (841), 29th in receiving yards (11,263), and tied for 35th in receiving touchdowns (75).
Over 131 regular season games for the Pittsburgh Steelers (2010-18) and New England Patriots (2019), including 103 starts, Brown recorded 841 receptions for 11,263 receiving yards and 75 receiving touchdowns, averaging 13.4 yards per catch. He owns the longest streak in league history with 35-consecutive regular season games with at least five catches and 50-or-more receiving yards. He has recorded seven seasons with 1,000-or-more receiving yards, six seasons with 100-plus receptions, and four seasons with 10-or-more touchdown receptions.
With Chris Godwin out with a fractured finger and Mike Evans struggling with an ankle injury, Brown can help. In addition, when right, they’re not many wide receivers better than Brown. We’ll see what happens, but this move seems like a win-win for Tampa Bay. If Brown behaves, Tampa Bay gets a great football player. If not, they can cut him and move on.
The Giants’ upcoming Monday night home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers delivers numerous captivating storylines. There’s the 1-6 Giants, coming off a disappointing one-point loss in Philadelphia, facing a Bucs team that is 5-2 and has won five of its last six games – and the loss was a one-pointer. And the Giants’ offense – 31st in the NFL in both points and yards a game – facing a Tampa Bay defense that is ranked third overall and first against the run. The Bucs have scored 222 points – exactly 100 more than the Giants.
But most of all, there’s Tom Brady, who will face the Giants in a prime-time game for the second straight season and visit them for the first time in five years. The Giants lost the 2019 Thursday night game in Foxborough, 35-14, and dropped a 27-26 decision in MetLife Stadium in 2015.
Brady, of course, was then the quarterback of the New England Patriots, the franchise he led to nine Super Bowl appearances, winning six. After 20 seasons in New England, Brady left the Patriots to sign with Tampa Bay on March 20. In seven games this season, he has thrown 18 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, and his passer rating of 102.7 is higher than the 97.1 he had in his two-decade tenure with the Patriots.
Two members of the Giants witnessed Brady’s magic up close from 2012-19. Coach Joe Judge was the Patriots’ assistant special teams coach and then coordinator those eight years and also served as wide receivers coach last season. Safety Nate Ebner also joined the Patriots in 2012 and remained with them until joining the Giants in the spring.
“This guy is clearly one of the best to ever play the game,” Judge said of Brady on a Zoom call today. “He’s playing at a very high level. You watch Tom, obviously, I had a little bit different of a chance this weekend being home for a little bit, working from the house, of peaking at the TV and seeing Tom out there playing (in a 45-20 rout of the Raiders in Las Vegas). That, along with the coaching tape I’ve watched, this guy hasn’t had much drop off. He’s playing at a very high level. He has the guys around him playing at a high level as well.”
Judge credits Brady’s football knowledge with contributing as much to his success as his physical skills.
“One thing about Tom is he’s a very intelligent player,” Judge said. “He thinks ahead of the play, he’s always looking for answers, he’s very proactive in how he sees the game, he understands the personnel on the other side extremely well. He’s been in all of the situations, however you slice it up, as many times as you can possibly imagine, whether that’s through practice or games. This guy is fluent in football. Look, he’s a great player. I think the thing you have to always keep in mind with Tom is he’s as tough and fierce a competitor as there has ever been in any organized sport. This guy really is truly one of the great ones. Look, it’s going to be a little bit different being on an opposite sideline from him this time. But it’s a great challenge and look forward to seeing him on the field.”
Ebner will face Brady in a game wearing a different uniform for the first time but squared off against the future Hall of Fame quarterback in hundreds of practices.
“It’s Tom Brady at the end of the day,” Ebner said. “Obviously, I played with him a while. I know he’s a great player, he continues to be great. He’s going be a very tough opponent to prepare for as he’s been all these years.
“I know Tom as a person and played with him quite a bit, but every year brings a new year. We’re going to have to prepare for not just him but a plethora of other great players and a great team. We’re going to have to take this year for what it is and prepare of the Buccaneers of 2020.”
Brady is 4-1 against the Giants in the regular season (2-0 in New Jersey). But he suffered two of the most significant losses of his career when the Giants defeated the Patriots in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Judge and Ebner saw only the two most recent games Brady played against the Giants.
In their final season with the Patriots, as the team’s wide receivers coach, Judge worked more closely with Brady.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Tom,” Judge said. “I learned a lot of ball being around him. How he sees it through a player’s perspective. The things that come up in a game and how he handles it. Hearing the way he kind of picks receivers’ brains throughout a practice or things he may see pre-snap. I got a lot of knowledge just listening to him talk to other guys on the team. To me, one of the most beneficial things was you could go in during training camp and you put on the one on one period, receivers versus DB’s. A lot of times you run it as a coach, there would be other times where we would let the players go ahead and do it. You would let Tom go in there and talk to the receivers about what he’s seeing and what he expects on a certain route. To me, that made you a much better coach by listening to how the quarterback sees it and what he expects on each route.
“To me, there’s fine points in coaching but ultimately it matters how the players see it on the field. To be able to hear through the vision that Tom had, that was really an education in itself right there. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. He was a ton of fun to be around. You really got to see one of the great competitors on a daily basis. Not only how he performed but more importantly how he prepared. I think that’s some of the things that gets overlooked. It’s not accidental this guy is playing this late in this timeline. Being 40 plus years old and still playing at this high level. The things that people don’t see aren’t the time on the field. The thing that people don’t see are the hours and hours behind, where he’s in the training room longer, he’s stretching, he’s getting nutrition, the way he takes care of his body meticulously. He set the tone for an entire organization. I’m very grateful for my time being around him.”