The Buccaneers have tried something unconventional in an effort to fare better in night games. This week, they’re practicing at night.
So will it help the Bucs be prepared to play on Monday night against the Rams?
“I hope so,” quarterback Tom Brady told reporters on Friday. “I don’t think it’s about a prediction from us. It’s about our process and trying to go out there and do a good job. Whatever it takes for us to play well, that’s what [Bruce Arians] is interested in, so that’s what we’re focused on.”
Earlier in the press conference, Brady offered up some observations that could be regarded as an indication that being ready to play at night is less about when practice happens and more about the professionalism of a pro football player.
“As an NFL player, you’re prepared to play whenever you’re scheduled — one o’clock, four o’clock, eight o’clock, Thursday night, Sunday night, Monday night, whatever,” Brady said. “If it’s three in the morning, it’s three in the morning. If you’ve got to go to London or Mexico — it’s really about what you do for those three hours. Everything should build up to those three hours. We get one day a week to perform, three hours for one day a week. You’ve got to put yourself in a mental, emotional, physical frame of mind to be at your peak for that moment. The game doesn’t take place on Wednesday afternoon. It doesn’t take place on Friday afternoon. In this case, it’s Monday night, so everything should be geared for that time. You’ve got to just get your body to the place where it feels like you can go out and perform, get your mind right mentally so you know what to do and then emotionally be in a good place to focus and do your job. This is a big game for us — it’s as big as they get on Monday Night Football, so this is one for us where we’ve got to go out there and be 100 percent ready to go.”
Brady’s explanation of the various places and times he has practiced arguably underscores that it’s up to the player to be ready to go whenever, however, wherever.
“I’ve practiced at basically all different times and places,” Brady said. “I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve played a long time, so over the years there has been a lot of different types of practices — morning, night, travel to practice, practice in gyms, practice on a cricket field in England once — there have been quite a few different places. Ball rooms, we’ve done it all.”
And so the issue with the Bucs not performing well at night this year may be less about when the team practices and more about being ready to meet the challenge of a big game in a big spot, one in which the opponent regards the game as more significant and consequential. Of course, Brady himself hasn’t been great in the three night games, either, so his observations apply not only to those who share the locker room with Brady but also to Brady himself.