NFC Notes: Buccaneers, Falcons, Saints


Buccaneers QB Tom Brady said he was still learning how to call HC Bruce Arians‘ system midway through the 2020 season. 

“Midway through the year, I was still trying to figure out how to call the plays,” Brady said, via HODINKEE Radio. “I just read [the plays] off my wristband and tried to visualize what was going to happen. It’s like learning a completely new language. You’ve spoken English for 20 years and someone goes, ‘Hey man, let’s speak some Spanish.’ And you are like, ‘Huh? That makes no sense to my brain.’”

Brady said the Buccaneers began to come together toward the end of last season given the global pandemic affected protocols surrounding the game. 

“The end of the season was what was the most fun,” Brady said. “We kind of came together. Naturally, we couldn’t come together in the same way. You couldn’t start that way in training camp because we were all social distanced. We couldn’t meet together. We had to all sit outside. You couldn’t have friends over. You couldn’t do anything after the game.”

Brady feels that Tampa Bay began “hitting our stride” over the final six weeks of the year toward Super Bowl 55. 

“So it took a long time for people to get to know one another. Much longer than normal. The last six weeks of the year, wow, we really started hitting our stride. We gained a lot of confidence in one another. It was a really unique experience, one that I hope I never, ever have to go through again, but I think we made the best of it.”


  • Falcons’ first-round TE Kyle Pitts said he wants to “make a splash” this season and is focused on quickly learning their playbook: “I just want to make a splash early. Sometimes rookies kind of get caught up in the playbook and things like that. I just want to learn it, get it down pat so that when I get out there I can play freely and be myself.” (Good Morning Football)
  • Falcons HC Arthur Smith said that fifth-round CB Avery Williams could be used on offense after the rookie mentioned he previously played running back and wide receiver back in high school. (Kelsey Conway)


Saints’ assistant GM Jeff Ireland commented on the team’s decision to draft players such as LB Payton Turner, LB Pete Werner, and CB Paulson Adebo.

At the end of the day, we did not settle,” said Ireland, via Jeff Duncan of The Athletic. “We felt fantastic because of the process we went through, all the things that we tried to ridicule ourselves about, and then he just kept coming out on top. Look, we didn’t miss on character. We didn’t miss on motor. We didn’t miss on length. He’s the longest defensive end, I think, in the last 10 years. And he plays with it. He plays with that length. He’s got bend. He’s got athleticism. The workout was fantastic. He’s 270 pounds. He plays the style of defensive end that we want to play. And that’s, take that tackle back into the quarterback. We’re not going to be behind the quarterback a lot. We’re not this old Dwight Freeney, bend-the-edge type guy. We’re not that. That’s not the way we play defense. We’re going to get our hands in the quarterback’s face. We’re going to take that tackle, we’re going to press him right back into the quarterback’s lap. And we’re going to play with speed and power. And then just when you think we only bring power, he’s got the athleticism to get around you, just like Marcus (Davenport) and just like Cam (Jordan). And so that, in a nutshell, is how we arrived at the pick.”

Despite having a need at cornerback, Ireland mentioned that the team had Turner graded higher than the cornerbacks available at their pick, but points out the team was looking for confidence and will still get that with Adebo.

“Confidence, No. 1. It’s a trait that’s hard to evaluate, but you kind of know it when you see it. Horn had it. Surtain had it. I think Adebo had it in ’18. He’s got to regain that. Newsome had it a little bit. Corners have to have a short memory. And the way we play man-to-man coverage, you’ve got to be able to play press-man. You got to be able to play off-man. Certainly, football instincts and awareness are key (traits) for us.”

As for Werner, Ireland can see him contributing in a number of ways, starting on special teams.

“He’s everything you’re looking for in a draft pick. He checked all the boxes. He was a badass special teams player as a freshman. I mean really good. He’s going to play all four core special teams. He’s prototype (size). He started three years. He’s played multiple positions. You see him play mike linebacker in the sub (defense). You see him play will. He’s played sam. He’s blitzed. He’s covered. He’s covered man-to-man. He’s even played safety when they needed an extra player. Even as a linebacker, he’s played half-field safety. I mean you can tell they trust him to do whatever they ask him to do. … I like Ohio State players. I mean I think they’ve gone through a process of being prepared for big football games. Ultimately, that will be up to our coaches. I think the player is going to be a mike linebacker in this league, and he’s going to be a green dot player. We have some versatility now at the position. It’s going to depend on how we want to utilize Demario (Davis). At the very least we know we’re getting a core special teams player and a guy that can come in right away and play without having to spend a ton of time coaching the kid. He’s going to know what to do pretty quickly.”

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