Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are traveling to Denver for a 4:25 game with the Broncos; and for the first time this season- he will have all of his options available. In back-to-back weeks the Bucs offense saw Mike Evans (week 1) play on an injured hamstring and Chris Godwin (week 2) miss the game in concussion protocol.
The fantasy lineup that fans were dreaming will be on full display and could not come at a better time. The Broncos defense is allowing 393.5 yards through week 2 of this young season; on the flip side the Buccaneers offense is putting 324.5 yards per game while Brady continues to build his rapport.
Through the first two games, Brady has completed 23 passes in each, to go with three touchdowns on the year. All three of his passes for a score have come on throws to the left, with Evans being the recipient of two.
While many of the Brady doubters will tell you that the quarterback has lost a step; that is simply not true. Last season, Brady was better than the league average at stretching the field down on throws 20+ yards. Last season with the Patriots, Brady’s only wide receiver to catch more than 30 passes was Julian Edelman, with 100. Phillip Dorsett finished as the Patriots second best wide receiver for 29 catches, for reference.
Assuming Evans, Godwin and Miller are on deeper routes, this leaves the middle of the field and the check-down virtually wide open. Rob Gronkowski could truly be the Buccaneers best asset. Teams cannot afford to double team Evans, Godwin and Gronkowski. 5 or 6 defenders are focused on those three targets alone. However, the ultimate decoy thus far has been Gronk; he has four targets- that’s all. Maybe he’s working out the kinks, maybe he’s not- the fact remains that he’s one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history; you must plan for him. Even if the Buccaneers aren’t using him, he’s still pulling away defenders.
The “pick your poison” offense the Bucs built is in full effort come Sunday. This could be the breakout game that puts the league on notice. Brady looked more like himself last week, and will continue to improve. If the Broncos are not careful, 60 minutes could feel like an eternity. We’ve not even talked about the Buccaneers defense yet, either.