- Covered the Buccaneers since 2009
- Joined ESPN in 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has always understood the physical demands of getting ready to play an NFL season and doing it at the highest level. After all, he has won six Super Bowl rings. But he didn’t realize the mental energy it would take to learn a new playbook, which he’s having to do for the first time in 20 years at his new home in Tampa Bay.
“It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook — I mean I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough,’ like all of the different terminologies,” Brady said Thursday. “You’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did. I have to work at it pretty hard physically, still. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best, but mentally I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges.
Coach Bruce Arians has said his concepts aren’t much different from what Brady did with the New England Patriots, even if his offense is known more for pushing the ball downfield vertically. But the terminology — essentially learning a new language — is the most challenging part.
The workouts Brady organized with receivers at Berkley Prep helped speed up that process and helped him develop chemistry with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Cameron Brate, Dare Ogunbowale, O.J. Howard, Ronald Jones and Ryan Jensen. Now he’ll spend time collaborating with Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, something they weren’t able to do often this spring with no offseason program because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think conversations we probably would’ve had in April, we’re having now,” Brady said. “I think that part has been challenging too, but the only thing you can do is adjust to the situation, adapt the best way you can [and] put as much time and energy now as we can into it. I think the reality is, the clock is ticking on everybody. We’re going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another. [We need to] embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become.”
Aside from the playbook, Brady is still trying to find his way around. He hadn’t been inside the Bucs facility for the first time until last week.
“You’re trying to learn a bunch of different things and you’re trying to not only learn an offense, but learn your way to work or learn guys’ names,” Brady said. “I didn’t even know where the quarterbacks’ room was or [where] the full-team meeting room was. You get in here and your brain is trying to figure out a lot of different things. Every day that goes by it’s getting a little bit better. I’m glad we’re not playing a game this Sunday — I’m glad we have time to prepare. It’s been a good week or so being in here and I think I’m going to take advantage of the opportunity to improve myself so that I can be the best quarterback for this team that this team really deserves. These guys are working really hard and I want to come in here and do a great job for them.”
Arians praised Brady for assembling new teammates on his own and getting them to buy in quickly, something he likened to his former pupil and another future Hall of Famer — Peyton Manning.
“I think they all have the same qualities of willing themselves on other people to win and making them accept it quickly. All the good ones, they all had it. When they talked, everybody listened, and Tom has that for sure,” Arians said. “Obviously, he has the rings and all that, but what he did over at Berkeley [Prep], that was strictly on him. Nobody edged him on to do that. He was like, ‘Hey, let’s get going.’ Right now, he’s tired of walk-throughs already. He’s like, ‘We’ve got to practice.’ We’ve got to wait about five more days, but yeah, I love that about him.”
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