Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said it took him a while to fully grasp the team's playbook last season after spending the first two decades of his career with the New England Patriots.
"Midway through the year, I was still trying to figure out how to call the plays. I just read [the plays] off my wristband and tried to visualize what was going to happen. It's like learning a completely new language. You've spoken English for 20 years and someone goes, 'Hey man, let's speak some Spanish.' And you are like, 'Huh? That makes no sense to my brain.'"
Brady's comments line up with how the Bucs' 2020 campaign played out. They entered their Week 13 bye with a 7-5 record, including three losses in the four games leading up to their bye week.
Something must have clicked during the week off because Tampa Bay was unstoppable from that point forward. The Bucs won their last eight games—four regular-season contests and four playoff rounds—while averaging 33.9 points en route to winning Super Bowl LV over the Kansas City Chiefs.
Brady explained on Hodinkee Radio the COVID-19 protocols, which limited practice time and interactions with teammates, were likely a factor in how long it took the Buccaneers to click, but they "slowly but surely" figured it out in time to chase down a championship:
"The end of the season was what was the most fun. We kind of came together. Naturally, we couldn't come together in the same way. You couldn't start that way in training camp because we were all social distanced. We couldn't meet together. We had to all sit outside. You couldn't have friends over. You couldn't do anything after the game.
"So it took a long time for people to get to know one another. Much longer than normal. The last six weeks of the year, wow, we really started hitting our stride. We gained a lot of confidence in one another. It was a really unique experience, one that I hope I never, ever have to go through again, but I think we made the best of it."
Brady, 43, continued to defy Father Time as he finished the regular season with a 65.7 percent completion rate for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He added 10 more touchdown throws in the playoffs.
After the team took care of business to capture the franchise's second Super Bowl title, the Buccaneers front office went to work in the offseason and returned all 22 starters from last year's roster.
That continuity should prevent any issues with the offense similar to the ones the Bucs dealt with in the early stages of last season, and it also makes them chief contenders again heading into the 2021 campaign.
Brady and Co. will help kick off the new season in the traditional Thursday night opener featuring the Super Bowl champ when they host the Dallas Cowboys on Sept. 9.