Tom Brady ‘hoping this is my best year’ ahead of 2021 NFL season with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

0 Comments

TAMPA, Fla. — The story about the Bucs this summer is whether they can be the first NFL team in 16 years to win consecutive Super Bowls. The quarterback back then, for Super Bowls 38 and 39, was Tom Brady. The quarterback trying to win a second straight title now, almost a generation later, sweating a few feet across from me, in a sliver of shade next to the old equipment shed on the Tampa Bay Bucs’ training ground, is Tom Brady, of course.

It always comes back to Brady, right? I’ve taken his temperature a lot over the years, and what I found in 19 minutes with him the other day was the kind of happiness and contentment we’d all want to have in the twilight of our professional lives. His 14-year-old son, Jack, is a ballboy at camp this summer, and dad and son have been playing catch a lot. Brady is mentoring another kid receiver in camp, fourth-round rookie Jaelon Darden of North Texas, a continuation of the fulfillment he’s gotten as a player-coach since arriving here last year. And the football . . . it’s just something he feels more in control. “When he calls a play this year, he knows the picture in his brain,” coach Bruce Arians told me. “Last year, it was just words.”

There’s nothing about the way Brady acts, talks, smiles, teaches, throws, throws, and throws that suggests he’ll retire in 17 months, after his contract realistically expires. (There are three void years built in to make his cap numbers tolerable in 2021 and 2022.)

In 2009, Brady told me in an interview he wanted to play till he was 41. In 2017, he raised that to his mid-forties. Now, I’d be mildly surprised if he doesn’t play beyond 45, beyond the 2022 season. Last year, in his age-43 year, he didn’t get in a huddle with his new offense (literally) till one month before the season-opener, and proceeded to throw for more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes and more yards than Aaron Rodgers, and the Bucs won the Super Bowl by 22 points.

Read that again, what Brady did at 43. Threw for more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes, more yards than Aaron Rodgers, won the Super Bowl by 22 points. Wayne Gretzky was in decline at 35 and out of hockey at 39. Michael Jordan was 34 in his last great year. Peyton Manning retired at 40.

Do we realize exactly what we’re seeing?

Wisely, after turning 44 this month, Brady will go year-to-year, but with life so marvelous for him right now, why put limits on himself?

“I’ll know when the time’s right,” Brady said about retirement. “If I can’t . . . if I’m not a championship-level quarterback, then I’m not gonna play. If I’m a liability to the team, I mean, no way. But if I think I can win a championship, then I’ll play.”

Brady was excited about football, pensive, grateful, reflective about New England and the White House, and critical of the rising ethos in this country that says blame is a good substitute for work.

“Life,” Brady said, “is about always changing and adapting to different things. Today, the world wants to blame, and shame, and guilt, and fear everything all the time. We would never teach our kids that, you know? We would never say, ‘This is how you’re gonna get through life the best—you’re gonna blame everyone when things don’t go right.’ Or, ‘I always get it my way but you should never get it your way.’ It’s not how to live a joyful life.

“For me . . . I love playing football. [Offensive coordinator] Byron Leftwich said something really good the other day: It’s a very simple game that’s so hard to execute. It’s a totally imperfect game that you’re trying to do as perfectly as possible. Every day I come out trying to do it. I’m hoping this is my best year.”

Think it will be?

“That’s a prediction and I’m not for that. I’m into doing the work. Is the process gonna be right? I’m gonna work my ass off to get it right.”

Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady. (Getty Images)

Last year, in camp, Brady was a personal tutor for tight end O.J. Howard. Coaching points every day, up close and personal. This year, that guy is a fourth-round pick from North Texas, smurfy receiver Jaelon Darden. Nearly every day, Brady’s close to him in practice, giving teaching points about precisely where he wants him on every route of the route tree. He does this so, in the biggest games, he’s got weapons not named Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (likely to see blanket coverage) who he can trust. Think back to the Super Bowl comeback win over Atlanta. Brady’s most important wide receivers down the stretch of a 25-point comeback? Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell.

Arians said what he learned most from Brady last year is the complete understanding of what it takes to win at quarterback. “He is such an unbelievable coach to younger players,” Arians said. “Not just on the field, but off the field, with TB12 and some of the things that he does to teach young players how to do it the right way.”

Brady embraces that role, being precise with guys on route-running, because it’s so essential to winning. Doesn’t it make sense? If he’s going to work on being precise throwing to a spot 15 yards downfield, say, of course he would want to work on techniques and strategy to be sure that receiver is open at least a small window at 15 yards.

“The first time I met him after the draft, I was star-struck,” Darden said. “He said, ‘Hey Jaelon. Happy to have you on the team. I studied your film.’ What an honor. Then he took time to teach me how to win against coverages. Like, ‘When the corner plays you here, I’m gonna have the ball at this exact spot.’ Every day, I put my hard hat on and work and learn.”

“It’s really hard for a rookie receiver in the NFL,” Brady said. “Everything is new. You have a play, then I change the play, then I look at you and I change the route, then I see a defense that we didn’t necessarily talk about. Every play I’m like, hey this is what I’m thinking. And you gotta have someone who can take the critique.

“No one can fix it except the quarterback and receiver. Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I’m throwing the ball. You’re catching it. We gotta literally have a bond, a connection between us. You gotta think what I’m thinking all the time. The more you talk and the more you do it, the better it is. The longer I play with guys, the better it is. The shorter you play together, you can’t cover everything in five weeks of training camp. Or in two years together. Five years together? Maybe. Seven years together, okay, that’s pretty good. You play seven years together with a receiver, you can make a lot of magic happen. But after a year or two, there’s still things. There’s so many variables that you gotta get right. We’re playing a chess game.”

Brady has figured out that football is a collection of the things no one sees—like spending 20 seconds here, two minutes there, day after day, with an awestruck fourth-round receiver who might make it and might not. So that, in the NFC Championship Game, nursing a five-point lead with 1:37 to play, with third-and-four at his own 37-yard line, knowing if he failed on this play Aaron Rodgers would get the ball back with 90 seconds and three timeouts left . . . and he picked out the 161st pick in the draft just nine months earlier, Tyler Johnson, to target. Super Bowl berth on the line. Brady threw to Johnson, who got grabbed by a cornerback for pass interference. First down. Two weeks later, the Bucs lifted the Lombardi.

To lift another one, Tampa’s got the ultimate resource person in Brady. In the last four seasons after getting to Super Bowls, the Brady/Belichick Patriots won 12, 12, 13 and 12 games. They didn’t repeat in any of those, but they played in January in each of the following seasons. The feeling around camp here is, as VP of Football Administration Mike Greenberg said, “Tom Brady won’t allow it.” I heard 19 similar refrains in my day at camp.

NFL: AUG 18 Buccaneers & Titans Joint Training Camp
Brady and Bucs receiver Chris Godwin. (Getty Images)

Let’s get a little granular about the gang’s-all-back story. You know about all starters and the six or seven key reserves/kicker/punter being back, and the key coaches and front-office staff. But the Bucs got a little greedy. There were two players the Bucs really wanted on the team this year, two non-starters who would fill specific roles: third-down back Gio Bernard (the Bucs didn’t have a good third-down back like James White was for Brady in New England) and backup guard Aaron Stinnie.

Bernard you know. Nice player who should get 80 touches for the Bucs if healthy. Stinnie you don’t know. When right guard Alex Cappa broke his ankle in the Bucs’ wild-card win at Washington, Stinnie subbed for him in wins over the Saints, Packers and Kansas City, allowing one sack in 106 Brady pass-drops. As a fourth-year free-agent, Stinnie would have demanded the Bucs pay him a restricted free-agent tender of $2.3 million. That’s money they didn’t want to allocate to a swing guard. But look at what happened to KC in the Super Bowl when injuries the offensive line. “Our depth was huge in carrying us through the playoffs,” GM Jason Licht said. Stinnie wanted to be a Buc, and so eschewed the chance to make a little more elsewhere.

Each signed a one-year contract, Bernard for $1.2 million, Stinnie for $1.25 million. That investment in one player Licht is sure will help them win (Bernard) and one player who will help him sleep at night (Stinnie) cost Tampa Bay a combined 1.3 percent of its 2021 salary cap. Seems extremely smart.

These are players who want to be part of a winner. There are others who’ve made big money and just want a shot at another ring and love playing with Brady (Antonio BrownRob GronkowskiNdamukong Suh). Such a mass return to take one more shot has never been done exactly this way in recent NFL history.

“In the end,” said Licht, “we didn’t want to disrupt a good thing, and we could afford to use the credit card with the salary cap.” Example: Brady will be owned $23 million in 2023 if he walks away from football—or if he chooses to play more, the Bucs could extend him again with more phony years, pushing the money they owe him further down the road. It’ll come due, of course; but Licht and Arians obviously want to take their best shot, cap be damned, while Brady still has some prime left.

The other important part of having Brady in the house, as one Buc operative told me: “Nobody’s a turd when Tom’s around.” Meaning no one on offense is going to bitch about not getting the ball enough, or about his contract, at least now. Tampa’s got a real chance to win again. But no one ever sees the disease of complacency coming. We shall see.

“Football’s the ultimate blame game,” Brady said. “General managers, head coaches, players, quarterbacks, receivers, defense, offense. It’s so easy to blame someone else. It’s so hard to say, ‘I didn’t get the job done and we collectively didn’t get the job done.’ That’s the best part about team sports. I picked a team where everybody’s like, ‘Hey, we gotta get better.’ It’s not, I got all the answers. You guys just all screwed it up except me.’ Exact opposite way to play the game. You know? You gotta play it together.

“If you’re doing what you love doing and you’re with people you love doing it with, it’s all good. You can go to the Bahamas and play golf with the worst threesome of all time and you’re gonna have a horrible time. Or you can go to the local muni with your three best friends and have the best time. I love the guys I’m working with. This is nothing about New England. I love New England. I love the players. I love the coaches. It was magical.

“I’m very fortunate to find something I love and get to do it a long time. I was doing my treatments this morning with [personal trainer] Alex [Guerrero] this morning, and I told my son Jack: ‘I hope you find something you love to do in life. Your dad loves this. Alex loves this. If you just find what you love, you’re gonna love it every day.’”

Read more in the full Football Morning in America column.

2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13: Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF

0 Comments

Week 13 on Sunday Night Football features a showdown between Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) and Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night in America on NBC and Peacock. December is here and Week 13 means that we’re officially thinking about the NFL playoff picture, and who will be in contention for a spot in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Arizona, this February. Here’s how things stand in the playoff picture heading into the weekend:

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Where do the Colts and Cowboys stand in the 2022 NFL Playoff Picture ahead of Week 13?

Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts entered this season expecting to contend for the AFC South but with 5 losses in the last 6 games, Indianapolis is in danger of missing the postseason for the second straight year. Offensive struggles have been a resounding theme in Indianapolis all season long and contributed to the firing of head coach Frank Reich just nine games into the season. Jeff Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this year, was Reich’s replacement and is currently 1-2 in the new role. The Colts enter Week 13 three games behind the AFC South-leading Titans.

RELATED: Trevon Diggs, Michael Gallup miss practice with an illness

Dallas Cowboys:

It’s a completely different story for the Dallas Cowboys who are coming off back-to-back wins over the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Giants, both NFC contenders. Dallas looks to become the first team to win consecutive division titles in the NFC East since 2001-2004 but sits 2 games behind the powerhouse Philadelphia Eagles for the best record in the NFC East entering Week 13.

See below for the 2022 NFL playoff clinching scenarios and standings for Week 13 as well as additional information on how to watch and live stream this week’s Colts vs Cowboys match-up.

RELATED: How to watch Colts vs Cowboys  – TV/Live Stream info for Sunday night’s game

2022 NFL Playoff Clinching Scenarios for Week 13:

Minnesota Vikings (9-2) vs. NY Jets (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Minnesota Vikings can clinch the NFC North division title this Sunday with the following:

  • A win against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

OR

  • A tie against the NY Jets AND a Detroit Lions loss against the Jaguars

Philadelphia Eagles (10-1) vs Tennessee Titans (7-4) – Sunday, December 4 (1:00 PM ET)

The Philadelphia Eagles can clinch a playoff berth with the following:

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders loss to the Giants AND a 49ers loss/tie to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss/tie to the Rams

OR

  • A win against the Titans AND a Washington Commanders tie with the Giants AND a 49ers loss to the Dolphins AND a Seahawks loss to the Rams

RELATED: PFT’s Week 13 2022 NFL power rankings

AFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (9-2)
  2. Buffalo Bills (9-3)
  3. Tennessee Titans (7-4)
  4. Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
  5. Miami Dolphins (8-3)
  6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)
  7. New York Jets (7-4)

In the Hunt:
Los Angeles Chargers (6-5)
New England Patriots (6-6)
Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1)

NFC Standings – Week 13

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
  6. NY Giants (7-4)
  7. Washington Commanders (7-5)

In the Hunt:
Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Atlanta Falcons (5-7)
Detroit Lions (4-7)


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys: TV, live stream info for Sunday night’s game

0 Comments

It’s the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys this Sunday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch tonight’s game.

RELATED: FMIA Week 12 – Josh Jacobs Takes Heckling Personally, And A Banner Week For Two-Point Conversion Risks

Indianapolis Colts

Matt Ryan and the Indianapolis Colts fell 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night in their 7th loss of the season and 2nd loss under interim head coach Jeff Saturday. Saturday, a former Colts center with no professional or college coaching experience prior to this season, took over after the Colts fired Frank Reich ahead of Week 10. Reich spent 5 seasons with the Colts, reaching the playoffs just twice (2018, 2020) and finishing with a 40-33-1 record in the regular season. Indianapolis’ offensive struggles have continued this season after ranking 10th in scoring last season at 26.5 points per game. Entering Week 13, the Colts are averaging 15.8 points per game–they’re tied with the Texans who are ranked 31st in the league. Ryan went 22-of-34 for 199 yards with a touchdown and an interception in Monday night’s loss. RB Jonathan Taylor rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

RELATED: Jeff Saturday on not using timeouts – “I thought we had plenty of time”

Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys completed the season series sweep with a 28-20 win over the New York Giants last Thursday evening. Prescott finished 21-of-30 for 261 passing yards with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. RB Ezekiel Elliot, who was playing in his second game since returning from a knee injury, rushed for a season-high 92 yards and ignited the Cowboys’ offense scoring the first touchdown of the game. On defense, the Cowboys had 3 sacks–two of them were from OLB Micah Parsons who ranks 2nd in the league with 12 sacks this season. Dallas currently has one of the best defenses in the NFL and leads all teams with 45 sacks this season. The Cowboys have won 4 of their last 5 games and enter Week 13 just two games behind Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East lead.

RELATED: Dak Prescott – I am as confident as I can be in this team


How to watch the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys:

  • Where: AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • When: Sunday, December 4
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Indianapolis Colts vs Dallas Cowboys Game

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your tailgating needs for the 2022 Fall season, click here!

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Playoff Picture Week 13 – Standings, clinching scenarios ahead of Colts vs Cowboys on SNF


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!