‘Hopefully our best is ahead of us’

The Buccaneers’ 2022 season was not smooth compared to 2021, when the team finished with a 13-4 record and clinched their Premier League title since 2005.

Tampa Bay currently sits at the top of the NFC South going into Monday night’s home game against the New Orleans Saints with a 5-6 record. With the Atlanta Falcons (5-7) sneaking up behind the Bucs, the division tilt is huge for Tom Brady’s team as they prepare to stretch.

During Friday’s press conference, Brady didn’t hold back and discussed what else the Bucs can do to end the season strong.

“I think practice is very important for all of us,” Brady told reporters. “The more we can do in practice to simulate what’s going on in the game, the better we perform and gain mutual trust. I think passing is certainly about trust and anticipation. You know you get a lot of those reps at training camp. Then it goes into the season and there’s a balance between keeping the guys fresh.

The Bucs have averaged 18.2 points per game so far this season, have under 24 points in 10 of 11 games and have the league’s lowest rushing offense, according to NFL Research.

Tampa Bay had the same offensive lineup as last season, with stars like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Leonard Fournette at the helm. But injuries have played a role in the offensive’s struggles, with everyone missing a game or two, including newcomers Julio Jones and Russell Gage. Getting back on track will be a challenge as All-Pro offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs suffered an ankle injury in Week 12 and is expected to miss three or four games. But Brady-led teams have proven their worth over the winter months.

Brady is 9-1 at Week 13 or later since joining the Bucs in 2020, according to NFL Research. The 45-yard-old QB explained why he believes Tampa Bay’s best football is still within reach.

“Football is a very humbling game for all of us. You can’t take anything for granted,” said Brady. “Sometimes I go in there and I think I’m the worst quarterback that’s ever played and that’s just how it is. You try to go out and do a better job the next day and you get it back. It’s just the way football goes. So when I think you’re losing everything is terrible, and when you’re winning you think everything’s great, although not everything is great. When you lose, you find everything terrible, although it probably isn’t, everything is terrible and it’s just not good enough. We’ve all got a long season ahead of us and there’s still a lot of football left to play and hopefully our best is yet to come.”

After Monday’s game, Tampa Bay will face the 49ers, Bengals, Cardinals, Panthers and Falcons.