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Tom Brady on NFC South: Winning division always hard

Tom Brady enters his 21st NFL season with a new team, in a new conference, in a new division, with completely new teammates. It's a novel world the 42-year-old embarks upon as he joins the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 seasons wearing TB12 in New England.

After winning the AFC East 11 straight seasons, and 17 times in two decades in Foxborough, Brady knows moving to the NFC South will not be an easy mark.

"It's a good division with good quarterbacks, very good offenses but very athletic defenses, too," Brady said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters. "Winning the division is always a hard thing to do. These teams know each other so well. I didn't play this division once but every four years, so I gotta learn the players, I gotta learn the schemes. There's a lot of things that I've got to learn and get up to speed on, so that's where all my time and energy is going to be focused on in trying to do that. And also learning my teammates and learning guys like Mike [Evans] and Chris [Godwin], OJ [Howard], Cam [Brate] and a lot of the skill players. [Ronald] Jones and obviously the offensive line, who's a very talented group."

The NFC South projects as one of the most difficult divisions in football as we currently sit in March. Led by Brady, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and newly signed Teddy Bridgewater, the quarterbacks are seasoned, with four NFL MVPs (Brady, 3; Ryan), and hold a plethora of NFL records.

Facing the NFC South division only once every four years, Brady doesn't have the breadth of knowledge he did kicking around the likes of the Jets, Bills and Dolphins each year in the AFC.

One big challenge for Brady is learning a new offense and building a rapport with teammates amid the self-quarantines stemming from the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Playing in a completely new offense for the first time in 20 years, Brady didn't get into the minutia of Bruce Arian's "no risk it, no biscuit" mentality, but noted playing quarterback in any offense is simply about making the right read and putting the ball on target.

"Well, I think I've obviously paid attention to him and his offense for a long time, so everybody has somewhat different styles and philosophies in how they call things and so forth," he said. "Football to me is about throwing the ball to the guy who's open and if he's open deep, that's where you throw it. If he's open short, you throw it there. If they're open outside, you throw it there. If they're open inside, that's where you throw it. You get the ball to the guys who can do something with it.

As he leaves New England, Brady teams with Evans and Godwin, who represent the best receiver-duo he's had in years. Finding a way to build chemistry with those new faces if the lockdowns continue could be the veteran quarterback's biggest challenge this offseason.

"There's some really talented players here on this offense that have very unique skill sets and it's really my responsibility to learn what they do and their body language and how they like things and that's part of the challenge," he said. "It's unfortunate what we're going through in our world. It presents different challenges for all of us. Again, as soon as we have the opportunity to all be together in one place, we can really start working toward that. That's what I'm going to do."

Bucs teammates already believe Brady's presence alone can get them back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

The first step is building chemistry in a world tipped on its axis by a global pandemic. Next is chasing an NFC South title in what looks to be a hotly contested division.

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