TAMPA, Fla. — The Pro Bowl voting is officially open to the public. If Donovan Smith had it his way, the entire Buccaneers offensive line would be heading to Las Vegas.
Smith is a bit biased. Head coach Bruce Arians had more of an objective take when it comes to his players.
"If Ali [Marpet] is left off it's a crime. If Tristan [Wirfs] is left off it's a crime," Arians said. "Maybe ‘Donny’ [Smith]. Obviously, Tom [Brady] and Mike [Evans] and even Chris [Godwin]. Defensively, Devin [White] for sure, and Vita [Vea]. Everybody else has missed too much time. Probably Shaq [Barrett] if he goes back up to the sacks he's been up to."
Arians has a list of nine names and if the squad can turn it around, it is not a crazy idea to think this group can earn double-digit selections.
Wide receiver Mike Evans has earned three Pro Bowl nods in his career and is well on his way toward a fourth. He is also close to some history. With one more touchdown, he will pass Mike Alstott for the most scores in a Buccaneers uniform.
"It's an amazing record for a receiver," Arians said. "You would think a running back would have it like Mike [Alstott] did for all those years. For Mike [Evans] to do it, it shows an unbelievable level of consistency and availability. He doesn't miss many games. When you put those two together, with seven years of 1,000 yards, it's availability and consistency at a very high level."
Evans would certainly like to see Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski back on the field. Tampa Bay is 5-0 when Brown suits up, plus the red zone offense runs more efficiently with the future Hall of Fame tight end in pads.
It has been a struggle for the offense recently, which has led to some frustrations and losses. Despite Tom Brady's age, he is someone who still detests losing. All these players do, which is why it has been a rough few weeks.
"It’s a different team, different circumstances and different everything this year so we have to put that work in," linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. "We know everything that’s still in front of us. It’s not going to be just given to us. We have to take the coaching and put it on the field and execute everything."
Safety Jordan Whitehead added, "I really think we will be OK. I just think we will [have] a little more preparation in practice this week. We’re ready. We’re there. It’s the NFL, it’s a week-to-week basis. Any team could win, so I just think we need to go out there from the start to the finish with that attitude that we play with."
For the first (and only) time this season, the Bucs will suit up on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants. To hear more about Brady's saltiness after the Washington Football Team loss, Pro Bowl predictions and a look-ahead to the game coming up, please click the YouTube link above.
You can also find new Locked on Bucs episodes wherever you listen to podcasts.