Tampa Bay’s offensive tackle talks of the importance for players, coaches returning.
No, the Bucs did not repeat as champions last season. But for them to have another shot at making it to the NFL’s biggest stage in 2022, it was important to get the majority of the players and coaches back this season.
Not everyone was able to stick around. Offensively, Tampa Bay was looking at huge turnover that began with the retirements of guard Ali Marpet and quarterback Tom Brady. Fortunately for the Bucs Brady decided to come back although Marpet did not change his mind.
However, we all know how big of a piece to the puzzle Brady is alone and that does not go without saying for offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.
“I think it just opens up the window again. With him at the helm, everyone is always excited,” said Wirfs. “I was excited either way but having Tom Brady back there and getting to protect him for one more year is pretty cool. I’ve got to go delete my Instagram post – I did a big thank you and everything, so I’ll have to postpone that.”
Despite his age Brady continues to play at a high level. Part of the reason being his relationship with offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. The third-year tackle touched on how important it was for Leftwich to also return as coordinator.
“I think that’s huge for us. I would’ve been really happy for Byron if he got a head coaching job, but I’m glad he stayed here,” Wirfs said. “I’m being a little selfish, but I’m really glad he stayed here. I know he has a lot of trust in us, and we have a lot of trust in him, so I’m excited for what is to come.”
Also returning was veteran center Ryan Jensen — who was almost certainly out the door in free agency. But he decided to stay and that says something about this Bucs team that players want to continue to don pewter and red.
At least as long as Brady is in Tampa Bay.
“Me and him have talked on the phone a couple of times this offseason just kind of to check in and everything,” Wirfs said when asked about Jensen re-signing with the Bucs. “I think having him back as kind of that center cog in our O-line is huge. It’s going to be cool. I’m glad we got three of our guys back – it will be good.”
And getting the majority of the guys returning on offense is always a good way to start heading into a new season.