The Buccaneers will be moving into a new era without QB Tom Brady, and the expectations for the team are low. The team itself seems to have acknowledged that with some of its actions, electing to take all of the dead money hit for Brady’s contract this year and largely sit out free agency. But Buccaneers HC Todd Bowles says that even though there’s no getting around how big a loss Brady is, there’s still a path for this team to beat expectations.
“When you replace a player of that magnitude, first of all, you don’t replace him,” Bowles said in an interview with NFL Media’s Judy Battista. “You lose aura. You lose the expectation of being great. That doesn’t mean you can’t be great. You just have to do it more as a team. We did it as a team when he was there, but he was such a great player and a great person that you focus all on that. And now that that is gone, the perception is that everything else is gone when really it isn’t.
“We have a lot of good players on our team on both sides of the ball. We have some pieces to fill, but we have a lot of good football players on our team. And we just have to understand that and not go with the so-called outside narrative and do what we have to do to win ball games.”
To replace Brady, the Buccaneers are turning to either former second-round QB Kyle Trask, who’s been the No. 3 quarterback behind Brady and veteran Blaine Gabbert the past two seasons, or former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield who signed a cheap deal in free agency to come in and compete for the starting job.
“I liked Baker when he was coming out,” Bowles said. “We kind of hit it off when I was with the Jets. I went down to Oklahoma and we had this vibe between us. And not to say he had the strongest arm and everything else, but he’s a leader. He has great understanding of the football game. He knows where to go with the football. And he has moxie. He’s a guy’s guy. The players love to be around him, and they will fight for him because he’s a winner. He’s won on a lot of different levels, so you like that about him coming in. I thought the way we were trying to run our offense this year, the style of offense we were trying to run, I thought he was a perfect fit for it. So, between him and Trask, I have no doubt that one of them will come out and be successful.”
Giants owner John Mara said he’s reminded HC Brian Daboll to remain humble and focused.
“We kid him, I mean, right now, he’s Bono walking around New York City,” Mara said, via SiriusXM NFL Radio. “But I’ve told him, I’ve said, ‘In this business, it doesn’t take long to go from Bono to Bozo. So don’t get your head too big right now.’ But he has been great.”
Florida QB Anthony Richardson made his case to become the first-overall pick in April’s draft, explaining that he’s worked hard to improve his craft and had his arm strength on full display.
“I’m a workhorse,” Richardson said, via the team’s website. “I’m going to work to be the greatest. I’m going to continue to work. A lot of people would say I have a lot of things to clean up, so I’m definitely going to try to clean those things up. And I did hit the roof.”
Panthers GM Scott Fitterer believes that Richardson isn’t as much of a project as people make him out to be, explaining that he possesses the tools needed to be a great quarterback.
“Obviously, he’s got a ton of talent, a lot of upside,” Fitterer said. “The more you play, the better it’s going to be, as far as processing and timing. But he’s got everything to work with…He’s more than a project; he’s a really good player.”
Fitterer added that Richardson’s arm talent was on full display and showed the ability to make every throw.
“Tremendous arm strength,” Fitterer said. “(He) made every throw, showed touch, showed timing, showed everything we needed to see.”
Panthers HC Frank Reich also sees the upside in Richardson. He believes that he’s capable of improving his game quickly and has a ton of room to grow.
“Even before the combine, watching his tape, there are plays and throws all over the tape that scream top-of-the-draft pick,” Reich said. “And that’s a credit to him. I think he has upper-body mechanics that are really solid. Obviously, his completion percentage is lower than you want at this level, but I don’t get too discouraged at things like that. I see a lot of upside. Talking to him a little bit at the combine, you can tell how smart of a guy he is. And a guy like that, without getting totally into it, just the more experience he gets – he’s a guy who you feel like is going to get better fast.”
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