York High grad Bruce Arians vows he'll be tough on Super Bowl champion Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Times (TNS)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is seen here at the team's victory parade after winning the Super Bowl title. Arians says the fun is now over for his team.

TAMPA, Fla. – Based on Bruce Arians’ latest sound bites, two conclusions can be drawn about the immediate future of the reigning Super Bowl champions.

The upcoming draft, which the Bucs enter with no glaring need, should be fun. The ensuing training camp will not.

“We have a very, very physical camp, so that’s really the only way we know how to do it,” the York High graduate told reporters Tuesday, reaffirming his vow on a recent podcast to “beat the s–-” out of his team this summer.

“So if it’s not that way, I’ll know something’s wrong, and I think our players will know something’s wrong if it’s not that way. So they know the standard and what to expect, so anything less is not going to be acceptable.”

In the wake of Super Bowl 55 and the booze-drenched boat parade that followed it, Arians – entering this third season as Bucs coach – has made it a point to indicate the 2021 version of his team remains winless.

Though Tampa Bay will be the first reigning Super Bowl champ since the 1976 Raiders to return all 22 starters (according to the Elias Sports Bureau), their 68-year-old leader said Tuesday no one has a guaranteed spot on the depth chart.

“There are no starters. It’s a new football team,” Arians said. “I made that message clear when they left (for the offseason). That team won the Super Bowl, this team hasn’t done s–-. All those things will be defined in practice.”

Addressing issues: Arians addressed several other subjects during his 17-minute session with reporters Tuesday. Among them:

►The team’s philosophy (considering every starter returns) entering the upcoming draft:

(Arians said the re-signing of tailback Leonard Fournette and return of fourth-year teammate Ronald Jones wouldn’t preclude the team from drafting a running back with the 32nd overall pick.)

“This year, going into this draft, it’s probably going to be the best player available, probably every round. I can’t really say I’ve ever gone into a draft not having a need – a drastic need. So it’s going to be fun because there are going to be so many guys available.”

►The status of tight end O.J. Howard, sidelined after tearing his Achilles’ tendon early in the 2020 season:

“He’s real close. He’s not running on the grass yet, but he’s really close. … Looks fantastic. I don’t see any setbacks.”

►Receiver Antonio Brown (the Bucs’ only prominent unsigned free agent) and other possible options at that position:

“We’re just going to take our time. There’s offers out there, and we’ll see how it goes.”

►The NFL’s imminent approval of a 17-game regular season and reduction to three preseason games:

“You might as well embrace it, because it’s coming. We don’t have a choice. … I like the three (preseason games). The fourth one was usually all guys that were just trying to make that final cut, and you weren’t playing anybody that was an injury risk of playing in your first two ballgames. So I think it still gives the guys plenty of time to get on tape for you and for other teams to see and show what they have.”

►The possibility of the Bucs drafting a quarterback with the 32nd pick (Tom Brady turns 44 in August):

“If the right guy is there that we think is a developmental guy that has the upside that outweighs every other position of those five or six guys that we’re looking at, then yeah, we wouldn’t be against it. Same thing in the second round and the third round – if we have five guys and one’s a quarterback, and we think his development’s better than those positions, sure.”