The Buccaneers have an embarrassment of riches at receiver. For other teams with other quarterbacks, that could lead to embarrassing moments, when the pass catchers complain that they’re not getting the ball thrown their way.
It won’t happen in Tampa, because: (1) Tom Brady won’t let it happen; and (2) no one will be able to legitimately complain because Brady always will throw the ball to the open man, whoever it is.
“It’s a great luxury for a quarterback,” Brady explained on his weekly SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio show, via JoeBucsFan.com.
“I’m sure it can be frustrating for a receiver,” Brady added. “Because you know most great receivers that I’ve been around want the ball a lot. But our guys are very unselfish. I’d say there’s been times in my career where we’ve been really limited at those positions and you try to force the ball to one particular player. . . Every time the defensive coach calls the defense, he’s trying to take away something. And when you’re limited on skill players, you’re trying to force the ball to one person regardless of the coverage. That’s a bad way to play.”
With one great receiver, the defenss forces the quarterback either to throw to the not-great receiver or to force it to the great one. With multiple great receivers, the quarterback can simply throw it wherever the opening emerges.
“If they’re covering you deep, you throw it short,” Brady said. “If they’re covering you short, you throw it deep. If they’re covering you inside, throw it outside. If they’re covering you outside, you throw it inside. You know, there’s years where I probably had that luxury. It’s probably not going to happen every year. But I would say last year was very much like that. This year is very much like it.”
That’s a tactful way of saying that, in New England, it very often wasn’t like that.
It is in Tampa, and it will require Brady to be sensitive to the fact that some guys won’t get the ball as much as they’d like to get it during a given game. On Thursday night, the largely forgotten man was Mike Evans, who had three catches for 24 yards.
“Mike didn’t have as many [yards] but Mike’s going to get his, I have no doubt,” Brady said. “He had an incredible [training] camp. He’s one of the great all-time receivers and will be a Hall of Famer at some point. For me it’s just a matter of finding the open guy.”
In Week One, Antonio Brown had five catches for 121 yards on seven targets. Chris Godwin saw the ball come his way 14 times, catching nine for 105. Gronk had eight catches on eight targets for 90 yards and two scores. The running backs (Leonard Fournette and Gio Bernard) added seven total catches for 39 yards.
Those numbers surely will change from week to week. Because as a defense tries to take a guy away, Brady will find someone else. And so on. And no one will ever complain about it.