Veteran quarterback Tom Brady made a huge decision in the offseason when he left the New England Patriots after a two-decade stint and signed a two-year contract worth $50 million. The move paid immediate dividends for the Buccaneers as they improved to 8-5 on the season with three games remaining in their schedule. Last season, the Buccaneers ended their campaign with a 7-9 mark. The deal made it to the No. 1 spot on Nick Shook’s list of top 10 free-agent signings in 2020. Brady’s signing made the Buccaneers immediate Super Bowl contenders, but with the lack of training camp and offseason, the veteran quarterback had a hard time adjusting to head coach Bruce Arians’ style of play.

Despite this, Brady has put the Buccaneers in the playoff hunt as they try to end a postseason drought that started way back in 2007.

With each game, Shook said Brady is growing comfortable with Arians’ offense despite the head coach’s penchant for the long ball. But Brady has adapted to it since his 9.1 air yards per attempt this season as his highest in a season in five years. That number is also tied for the third-highest figure in the NFL. However, Shook emphasized that if the Buccaneers want to end their playoff drought, they would have to rely on Brady’s strong suit, which is his intermediate passing game. This season, Shook said Brady has a 64.6 completion percentage on intermediate passes (10-19 air yards), good for sixth in the league.

Brady also has a 119.0 passer rating on such passes, which is the eighth-highest in the NFL this season. As for play-action, Brady has a passer rating of 124.0, good for fourth in the NFL. This season, Brady has completed 64.8 of his passes for 3,496 yards and 30 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

Buccaneers 2nd in Wild Card race

As of now, the Buccaneers are second in the NFC wild-card race but with two teams with below .500 records standing in their way, it could be an easier path for Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers will take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in a game where they are considered four-point favorites. Earlier, Falcons interim head coach Raheem Morris said they expect Brady to be in his usual dangerous self on Sunday.

The Falcons are winless in six games against Brady and the Patriots, including their unforgettable loss to New England in Super Bowl LI. According to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, he has yet to watch the tape of that game where they grabbed a 28-3 lead. However, Brady and the Patriots won’t let themselves fade away into the night as they recovered from a huge hole en route to a 34-28 overtime win.

Buccaneer's top rusher placed on COVID-19 list

Buccaneers top rusher Ronald Jones II has been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday, making him a longshot to play against the Falcons on Sunday. Before he was placed on the list, Jones underwent a procedure to insert pins into his fractured pinkie finger that he suffered in their 26-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings.

Jones was the fourth Buccaneer to be placed on the list after punter Bradley Pinion, kicker Ryan Succop, and long-snapper Zach Triner. According to Arians, Leonard Fournette would be the Buccaneers’ No. 1 rusher if Jones can’t play.