Quarterback Tom Brady will start the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ final preseason game on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts, but the decision to play the 45-year-old quarterback in an exhibition is controversial, to say the least.
The Bucs named Brady their Week 3 preseason starter on Thursday, the same day the Baltimore Ravens made it known that quarterback Lamar Jackson, a former league MVP like Brady, would sit out his team’s final tune-up before the regular season.
“This is a mistake to me,” said Joe Banner, former NFL executive and co-founder of The 33rd Team. of the Bucs’ decision to start Brady. “No need to take this risk. He probably will play a few possessions and maybe against backups who haven’t even prepared a game plan.”
Former Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer sees it a little differently.
“I think it’s important to get get reps in the preseason.,” Zimmer said Thursday. “You know, just because they said Brady’s playing doesn’t mean he’s playing a lot of plays. He might just be out there and play three plays if they go three and out. If they go down and score, it might be one series. It’s a very fine line.
“We had Teddy Bridgewater get hurt the week before our first game in 2016 (torn ACL and dislocated knee in practice). The coaches are always very, very conscious of it, very careful. And I think it really comes down to if they feel like the chemistry needs to improve and they need to go out there and work together.”
That just might be the case with Brady, who left the Buccaneers for 11 days due to personal reasons but returned to the team on Monday and began practicing again. He came under some light criticism for his absence, especially at a time when the Buccaneers are shuffling their offensive line. The 33rd Team’s Brett Favre is adamant the Buccaneers need to trust Brady’s judgment.
“Tom has seen it, done it. In fact, a break from time to time is probably a good thing,” Favre said. “I wouldn’t hold my breath for this being a bad thing for Tampa.”
Brady and the Buccaneers are looking to repeat as NFC South champions. That is something The 33rd Team’s Rich Gannon believes should be a foregone conclusion.
“In my opinion, the NFC South isn’t a fair fight,” Gannon said. “The Buccaneers are the clear front-runners.”