Giants hope to slow surging Brady, Bucs
Tom Brady apparently has found the Fountain of Youth in Florida.
The six-time Super Bowl winner is thriving in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the quarterback leads his club into a Monday night game against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, N.J.
There were thoughts that the 43-year-old Brady might not have much life left in his throwing arm after departing the New England Patriots following 20 seasons. Instead, he is on a superb roll with 15 touchdowns passes against just one interception over the past five games, with Tampa Bay (5-2) going 4-1 in that stretch.
Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, who played nine seasons with Brady in New England, expected the strong performance.
“It’s not a surprise,” Gronkowski said of Brady. “I’ve been seeing firsthand with my eyes his work ethic and how he takes care of himself. I see it happen, and it’s just unbelievable.”
Overall this year, Brady has thrown for 1,910 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Brady had three TD passes and three interceptions over Tampa Bay’s first two games before the hot streak began. He tossed three touchdown passes against the Denver Broncos and followed up with five against the Los Angeles Chargers.
After having three total touchdown passes in the ensuing two games, he erupted with four last Sunday in a 45-20 road victory over the Las Vegas Raiders. He also matched his season best of 369 passing yards.
Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Brady just needed time to get used to the offense as well as the philosophies of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
Tampa Bay ranks third in the NFL in scoring at 31.7 points per game, but Brady, true to form, prefers to deflect the credit.
“Football is the ultimate team sport,” Brady said. “From a quarterback’s standpoint, so much is trust and confidence in the receiver position, the tight end position and the line is doing an incredible job of blocking. My job is to throw it to the guys that are open and they’ve got to make the plays, and I think when you see great production, it’s really a reflection of the entire offensive unit.”
Joe Judge is no stranger to Brady, but excuse the Giants’ first-year head coach if he is highly nervous over meeting up with his long-time friend.
Judge, who spent the past eight seasons on the New England staff, said it would be different being on the opposing sideline from Brady.
“I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for him,” said Judge, who is 4 1/2 years younger than Brady. “He was a ton of fun to be around. You really got to see one of the great competitors on a daily basis of not only how he performed, but more importantly how he prepared.
“I think that’s some of the things that get overlooked. It’s not accidental this guy’s playing this late in his timeline of being 40-plus years old and still playing at this high level.”
The Giants (1-6) rank 14th in scoring defense (24.9 points allowed per game) and have held three opponents under 20 points. However, they also were torched by the Dallas Cowboys for 37 points and the San Francisco 49ers for 36.
New York sustained a 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 22 when it blew an 11-point, fourth-quarter lead.
This week has been chaotic for the club. First came the fallout from a bar incident in which quarterback Daniel Jones and injured running back Saquon Barkley were among a group of players who weren’t wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
Then Thursday, starting left guard Will Hernandez tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Giants said they instructed eight players — several were other offensive linemen, according to reports — and assistant coaches Bret Bielema and Jerome Henderson to remain at home.
The chaos just makes things more difficult for a team that is tied for the second-worst record in the NFL.
“We have to keep improving and keep pushing it forward,” Jones said. “Keep progressing as a team. I think that has to be our mindset. It’s the only way we are going to get better. I’m confident we have the guys to do it. We just have to stay at it.”
Wayne Gallman likely will be the primary running back after Devonta Freeman injured an ankle against the Eagles. Freeman sat out practice Thursday.
Tampa Bay receiver Chris Godwin will miss the game after undergoing surgery to repair a broken left index finger earlier this week.
The Giants have won seven of their past eight meetings with the Buccaneers, including a playoff win in January 2008.
–Field Level Media