Bucs Coach Bruce Arians previews game vs. Eagles, reflects on York Co. roots

NFL

(WHTM) — Coming back to Philadelphia is always special for Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, but a Thursday game is more business than pleasure.

“It’s always fun coming back to Philly, so many former players and staff members and doctors and trainers and everybody that was there in the 80’s with us,” Arians said on Tuesday. “[They’re] just like family. But this is a business trip, we really don’t have much time to do anything but play the game and get back home.”

The 4-1 Buccaneers hit the road this week to face the 2-3 Eagles on Thursday night. While the short week of practice and tight turnaround dominate this week’s focus, it’s also a homecoming for Arians.

The legendary coach grew up in York County, attending both York Catholic and York High School. His first college head coaching job came at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1983-88.

On Tuesday, Arians met with the Pennsylvania media to talk about the game & his connection to Philly.

Bruce Arians Press Conference

On Eagles QB Jalen Hurts & taking him away for the Bucs to have success

“I don’t know if you can totally take him away. He does such a good job of improvising after the ball is snapped especially in the passing game. When he drops back to pass he is so dangerous as a runner. The designed runs, you can try to take those away, but like any really mobile quarterback, they hurt you after the ball is snapped.”

On the challenges of a short week before Thursday Night Game

“I think it’s physically, you’ve got some guys that might not be able to play on Thursday Night, that could play on Sunday. It’s just getting the rest and getting the rehydration and everything. It’s just a mental week as far as practice, there’s no actual practices, so everything is mental. We changed our schedule a bit this year to try to help the coaching staff a little bit and our players get more rest. So it’s so far so good. But it’s always a challenge to play on Thursday night.”

On the infiltration of college game into NFL

“Most NFL teams are still using huddles, there’s not anyone holding up cards. Everyone looks over to the sidelines before the play, all the stuff you see in college. There is very little of that.

There is some spread offense that has moved in with these young quarterbacks that is really good stuff. But as far as getting in a huddle and running the offense, I don’t see as much of it in the NFL.”

On impressions of Eagles Rookie WR DeVonta Smith

“I loved him. He’s a great receiver [with] great body control. He’s got the speed; he’s very small for a slender guy. So don’t let that size fool you. He’s strong. He’s a really strong catch point guy and he’s really explosive.”

On development of Eagles second-year WR Quez Watkins

“Yeah it’s the same thing. Very explosive. They’ve got a ton of speed. They went out and got three guys that can really take the top off and it will really be a big challenge to keep them in front of us. And they’re all really good run after catch guys. So they can take a short [pass] and also take it to the house, so you can’t give them too much cushion. But it’s a heck of a challenge, especially with those two tight ends too.”

On if visiting Philadelphia & Temple University is sentimental

“Thursday night changes it a bunch; it’s just in and out. For us, this is a business trip. It’s always fun coming back to Philly, so many former players and staff members and doctors and trainers and everybody that was there in the 80’s with us. [They’re] just like family. But this is a business trip, we really don’t have much time to do anything but play the game and get back home.”

On Bucs WR Chris Godwin’s play & impact as third option

“He’s huge. He controls the middle of the field, might be the best blocking receiver in the NFL right now but his run after the catch is a big, big part of our offense and I wouldn’t say the other two [receivers] are any better than he is, that’s for sure.”

On Eagles defense & the keys for Bucs offense

“[I see] that front four [first], it might be the best front four and it is the best front four we’ve faced all season. They don’t have to do a whole heck of a lot; those guys can wreck a game in a heartbeat. So for us it is controlling the line of scrimmage and controlling those guys and a really good young secondary. So I like what I see, very sound. They’re going to make us beat them, they’re not going to beat themselves.”

On Jon Gruden situation & what it says about NFL culture

“It really has nothing to do with this game, so I don’t want to comment on it. I think it all speaks for itself.

On growing up in York, Pennsylvania

“It’s huge, I mean it’s still home. Mom’s still there and two of my brothers are still there. My sister is not far away. So yeah, every chance I get to be back home, we do. To see all the guys I grew up with and some of them are down here in Florida now and at the villages. But I love 717 that’s for sure.”

On Eagles DTs Fletcher Cox & Javon Hargrave

“That makes it a lot tougher because you know you got Fletcher. You got to start with him, but Javon is exploding on the scene. I really liked him coming out of college and I think he’s now in a defense where he can really show his stuff, he’s a very disruptive guy.”

On anything Tom Brady does that surprises coaches

“No, nothing surprises me with Tom. Every single day he comes to practice it’s like he’s 12 years old. Like I said last week, sometimes I think it’s Jack his son out there practicing. He’s having so much fun. What he does at his age is amazing, age is not a thing with him. So nothing he does surprises me anymore.”

On Brady’s thumb injury impacting Thursday’s game

“It’s sore but he’ll be fine. He’s had much worse injuries that’s for sure.”

On advantage of having Brady during a short week

“Yes and no. He’s only in his second year with this offense, so we’re still growing and when you take out those practice reps, it doesn’t help veterans either so it’s a short week but having him play the game always helps.”

Arians Roots & Coaching Career

Arians grew up in York County, Pennsylvania and attended both York Catholic and William Penn for high school. He was a standout quarterback, before playing college football at Virginia Tech.

He went on to coach at Tech, Mississippi State and Alabama as an assistant. Then he got his first head coaching job at Temple from 1983-88 in Philadelphia.

His NFL career took him all over the country as a running backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, tight ends coach for the New Orleans Saints, QB coach for the Indianapolis Colts, as well as the Browns and Steelers.

His first head coaching job in the NFL was for the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-17 when he retired from coaching.

In 2019, Arians agreed to come out of retirement to take the head coach position for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. By his second season, the York native was joined by quarterback Tom Brady; the pair won a Super Bowl in their first season together.

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