With training camp just about a month away, Buccaneer coaches were allowed back into the Advent Training health Center this week for the first time since early March.
Players being allowed back into the facility are still a few weeks away unless getting some kind of medical treatment.
Buccaneer offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich talked with the media about some of the challenges working through the pandemic.
“It’s different in every way you can imagine. Nobody could predict this, nobody could have gotten ready for this. We’re just trying to do what we can. We’re just trying to make sure we do everything to the best of our ability to make sure our team is ready when we do get the opportunity to get together.”
Leftwich and Buccaneer quarterback Tom Brady have communicated extensively over the last months virtually, and Leftwich has been impressed with Brady’s work ethic and learning the offensive system.
“Just the conversations that him and I have, I mean, it’s exciting, man. It’s gonna be exciting to work with him and try to put him in a position to play as good of football as possible. I mean, he’s a little older than me, so we can talk a lot of football from the past 30-40 years. We just communicate in that way and we try to learn each other, figure each other out so we can get our best.”
Will Brady have a role in play calling? That is a question that has been on the mind of Bucs fans since Brady signed in March.
A favorite word of Bruce Arians is collaboration. Both Arians and Leftwich believe in collaboration with the quarterback.
“There will be a lot of collaboration, but it’s like that every year. Since I’ve been a coach, I’ve always done that with the quarterback. You always want the quarterback to be as comfortable as possible. There’s enough football plays in our system to do what we need to do to get everything done. We’ll collaborate with Tom all the time.”
“My philosophy is that every quarterback I’ve ever been around has a role in the offense. I don’t just call plays, I don’t just come up with plays, I come up with plays always with the quarterback in mind. There will be some things that are different here and there. You want to know everything that Tom knows. When you have a guy like this leading your team as the quarterback, you want to put him in the best position possible all the time.”
Brady is best known for his short passing game and has taken some knocks about his ability to throw the ball downfield. But he has never had two receivers with the talent level of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin to throw to. Add in Rob Gronkowski, OJ Howard, and Tyler Johnson and this receiving corp are lethal on paper.
Brady loves to use his running backs as receivers, so expect a lot of short passes to Ronald Jones, Dare Ogunbowale, and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughan.
The Bucs did not throw a lot to the running backs last year, but Leftwich said that they are happy with the backs and their production as part of the passing game.
“We didn’t have a lot of catches by the running backs, but we are pleased with our running backs when they do catch the ball, what they’re able to do with it, how they’re able to get open, how they’re able to create separation, so we feel fine there.”
Brady has been holding some practice sessions with some key offensive players intermittently at Berkeley Prep since the end of May.
The Bucs addressed the one big weakness they had last season on the offensive line, drafting tackle Tristans Wirfs with the 13th pink.
“The most important thing is to have your quarterback eligible and healthy to play in football games, so we’ll do everything we need to do to keep Tom as healthy as possible. We have the utmost confidence in our players up front. I believe in the guys we have upfront. They’re willing to put in the work to do whatever’s needed to be done for us to have success.”
The Bucs have a tentative date of July 21 to start training camp and get ready for the 2020 season.