Tom Brady’s late birthday party for his 43rd birthday should give Buccaneers fans over 43 reasons to throw an NFL season-long party in 2020. A morning after he got a year older, Brady gave the Tampa Bay media a strong first impression during training camp on Tuesday.
If there were any remaining doubts about Brady bouncing back strongly from his last Patriots season – one of the worst for the greatest quarterback of all time – they should have faded with his final practice. The immediate reports of the Tampa Bay Times, The athletic and ESPN all came to the conclusion that it was vintage Brady with command of the Bucs ‘offense and connection to his Bucs’ teammates.
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The consensus was that Brady’s experience and talent surfaced everywhere, with most of his major attack weapons on the field with him. The leadership qualities that had been evident since Brady conducted early throwing sessions in March were easily stepped up. Brady showed no rust related to an unusually low season, with strong and accurate casts.
This is what watching a training camp in 2020 looks like. Physical distance at its best. But you can see Tom Brady deep in that first pass. The timing of the second pass was a bit wrong. pic.twitter.com/T9bmHfNaIS
– JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 4, 2020
The Patriots let Brady down quite a bit last season with a receiving corps in transition and nothing close to a reliable replacement for tight-fitting Rob Gronkowski. An attacking line of injuries did not help, which in turn limited the success of the hasty attack. Brady was still able to throw the deep ball effectively, but did not have the external goals to take advantage of it.
According to ESPNChris Godwin, the best all-round wide receiver from the Bucs, was not part of the group that trained with Brady, but everyone else was for their two-way end crew, with Justin Watson instead of Godwin at wideout. Now consider the important early takeaways:
Not only is Brady reunited with Gronkowski, but he has two more good ends, OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, both of which are far superior to the options he had on the position last season. Brady and Gronk are attached to the hip, but Brady also throws at Howard and Brate as he has always known them.
Up front, the Buccaneers were lucky enough that solid left tackle Donovan Smith decided not to unsubscribe for the season and the right tackle Tristan Wirfs quickly fitted right in to capture the other side of edge pass protection for Brady. In the backfield, the shine of rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn from the third round has diminished due to injury and the off-season restrictions, but there is suddenly more confidence in third-year-back Ronald Jones and the signing of LeSean McCoy has respected veteran juice in the to blend.
Without Godwin, Tuesday’s wide receiver was for Mike Evans’ Brady. Evans has been in the select company of Chiefs ‘Tyreek Hill and Lions’ Kenny Golladay as an elite-based big-play threat, averaging 17.7 and 17.3 yards per catch over the past two seasons. Brady had no trouble dropping sharply and nicely in practice in the field to drop to Evans.
At the Patriots in 2019, there were plenty of moments when Brady watched and played his 42-year-old. Now a year older, he looks rejuvenated to get back to work with an old, well-known friend and new younger boys eager to learn from him and deliver him.
With every passing exercise, the Bucs should be much more confident that they have the Brady that best resembles the GOAT.