As much excitement and buzz as there is surrounding the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers there have been just as many questions.
One of the glaring questions entering the off-season, and even now after spending a first-round pick on the offensive line group in the 2020 NFL Draft, is whether or not the Bucs’ offensive line can protect a 43-year old pocket passer.
In his discussion with the media this week, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich addressed the concerns and questions.
“The most important thing is to have your quarterback eligible and ready to play in football games. So we’ll do everything that we need to do to keep Tom as healthy as possible. We understand that we are playing football, but we do have the utmost confidence in our players up front. I believe in what we have up front, the guys we have upfront, the willingness there. They’re willing to put in the work to do whatever needs to be done for us to have success.”
While the answer certainly reads well and sounded good as Leftwich said it, it won’t likely squash the concerns from outsiders before the team gets on the field. Bruce Arians - and Leftwich by association or otherwise - is known for wanting to take deep shots, and taking them as often as they feel they can get away with it.
Granted, both coaches have gone on record also stating how important it is to balance aggression with intelligence. Despite this fact, when you think about this coaching staff, you think deep passes and a long time standing in the pocket for the quarterback.
The reputation for wanting big plays is a significant contributor to this concern as many Bucs fans have worried allowed about the ability for a 43-year old quarterback to stay healthy taking the punishment Jameis Winston took last season. Leftwich doesn’t see it as simply a matter of taking big shots or not however, saying, “We like to go down the field obviously, but it’s not a high percentage of the quarterback getting hit - really - on those plays. We want to protect the quarterback in all phases of the game. We’re not looking to protect him just because we go down the field, so we’re trying to protect the quarterback every time.”
Anytime a team has a new starting quarterback on roster, he’s going to be the talk of the off-season. Add in the stature of one such as Tom Brady, and the pace of the conversation only increases. Leftwich spent plenty of time discussing his new quarterback with the media during this sit-down, but it’s the pieces around him who are likely to influence the success of the team more than Brady can alone.
Being sure of the other ten starters is a big part of putting the whole thing together. Again, something Leftwich is not lacking in as we get closer to July and - hopefully - training camp.
“We just feel good about where we’re at as a football team,” Leftwich said. “We (were) excited about our team at the end of the year, and we’re excited right now about what we have and the players that we have, and how we can move forward.