Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians met with the media on Thursday to discuss football and the current social events happening around the country. We shared some of his thoughts from the social climates side of the conversation, and now we’ll move into the head coaches thoughts on football as we get closer to training camp and the 2020 NFL Season.
Speaking of camp, Arians let everyone in on the date players will report and his thoughts on whether or not fans will be able to witness the team’s formation.
“Players will not report until training camp. Our dates right now are July 21st. We may have a quarterback school earlier than that. I would seriously doubt if any fans will be at training camp this year due to the virus, and the health of fans and the players. We’ve already cancelled our inter-squad practices with the Titans and Jaguars.”
Of course, if fans won’t be in attendance for training camp, then it’s possible they won’t be present for pre-season games as well. With that, will inevitably come the conversation about whether fans will be allowed in stadiums to witness regular season games as well. Something Arians obviously doesn’t want to see happen, but sounded optimistic the league won’t have to go to those lengths.
“The games won’t be the same without the fans, I mean the game is for the fans,” Arians said. “I think it’s still a little too early to tell whether we’ll have them or not. I think we all hope that we will and we still have a few months to hopefully figure it out and keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.”
Whenever the team gets on the field, the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers have become off-season favorites to not only make the post-season, but challenge for a Super Bowl Championship at the end of the season.
I don’t think anyone would expect Arians to feel pressured by the high expectations, and true to form he was actually appreciative of the hype, saying,
“We embrace it, you know. That’s the first goal every year. When we put up our goals and start talking as a team, it’s to put rings on your fingers and hoist the Lombardi Trophy; then you put it to bed. And then you start, as we say, respect the process and start coming to work everyday and not looking ahead. And as long as we’re doing what we do everyday to the best of our abilities, we can attain those goals.”
Once they get to work, the team will undoubtedly be looking at ways to get better in the run game. Running back Ronald Jones gained more than 1,000-yards from scrimmage last season, but the Bucs should be looking to get their primary back over the same mark in rushing yards alone.
Asked about strategies to help improve the run game Arians honed in on situations the team often put themselves in, in 2019, which actively worked against establishing their rushing attack.
“Quit playing from behind. You know, the biggest thing with all those turnovers is that we’re usually playing from behind and spotting people ten to fourteen points,” Arians said. The head coach then recalled his experiences as an offensive coordinator and as a play caller, discussing how easy it was to get into catch-up mode, leading to some of the abandonment of the run game we’ve witnessed in years past.
It wasn’t all bad in 2019 however, something Arians pointed out as encouraging signs for the future. “I think at times we ran the ball really really well in November and December when we wanted to, we just didn’t do it enough. To be able to play equal even ball-games or even with the lead, I think that helps your running game more than anything. I think adding Rob as a blocker, our tight ends got better as blockers, our group got better - Rojo got better.”
Speaking of Rob Gronkowski, the addition of the future Hall of Fame tight end has raised some questions and creative ideas about how the Buccaneers offense might line up in various situations. The versatility of the group certainly seems to open up the door to many options, something Arians is looking forward to taking advantage of.
“We’ve always been a huge twelve personnel team,” Arians said. “Each week is finding out the best match-ups. I love thirteen, I love three tight ends out there. We have a package if you don’t know how to stop it, it can hurt you. I’d like to see us use more four wide receiver sets if those guys show up. Because if you have a really good fourth wide receiver there are very few four good corners and nickels and dimes to come get them.”
The Bucs certainly have an interesting group of skill players who will allow them to be as creative as they want to be. It’s obvious from hearing Arians talk he’s already been sorting out ways to use his offense in the 2020 season.
Arians had plenty to say, and we’ll all have many things to ponder over in the coming month and a half as we await the arrival of training camp.