Thanks to Bruce Arians, the Bucs stayed upbeat despite being beat up

TAMPA — Bruce Arians has proven there is plenty of tread left on his tires, even if the wheels carrying him around at Bucs practice are bolted to a golf cart.

All that matters is the 69-year-old coach has his team rolling toward a possible repeat as Super Bowl champion despite enduring an injury-riddled, drama-filled season.

Leading up to Sunday’s NFC division playoff game against the Rams, Arians has spent as much time as injured Pro Bowl offensive linemen Tristan Wirfs and Ryan Jensen in the training room, getting treatment on his partially torn Achilles tendon.

“I call it the petting zoo,” said Arians, laughing. “The zoo is full right now.”

Consider the bout with COVID-19, a debilitating injury, and sanctions from the league after slapping safety Andrew Adams on the helmet last Sunday — and that’s just what the Bucs boss personally was dealing with this season.

Fourteen Bucs players landed on injured reserve, and even after some were recalled, they combined to play only eight games, according to Pro Football Focus.

Has the job of coaching the Bucs ever been done better than what Arians did this season?

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The team won a franchise-record 13 regular-season games and beat Philadelphia 31-15 in an NFC wild-card game last Sunday.

Arians is quick to deflect the praise to general manager Jason Licht and his front-office staff, and rightfully so.

But players take notice when their head coach is the…

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