In the world of football, few relationships are more important than the connection between head coach and quarterback. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, may have missed that memo. While Tom Brady decided to leave Bill Belichick behind and team up with Bruce Arians, that pairing doesn’t exactly seem like a match made in heaven.
So far this season, Arians hasn’t had any trouble publicly criticizing Tom Brady; that’s raised some eyebrows, as most coaches prefer to handle things behind closed doors. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers boss, however, might have an ulterior motive for sharing his concerns with the media.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t lived up to the hype as Super Bowl contenders
While the cliche might say that defense wins championships, offense is a pretty important part of the equation, too. Coming into the 2020 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemed to have both sides of the ball covered.
The team’s offense, however, made the biggest headlines. In 2019, Jameis Winston threw 33 touchdowns passes but also struggled with turnovers; replacing him with Tom Brady seemed like the perfect upgrade. Given Tampa’s wealth of weapons—Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Ronald Jones II, plus the eventual additions of Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown—it seemed like the veteran quarterback would be able to lead the Buccaneers up and down the field without breaking a sweat.
In reality, however, things have been a bit tougher. While the Buccaneers offense has looked great in some moments, they’ve been inconsistent. On an individual level, Brady has thrown for 3,300 yards and 28 touchdowns but has also been intercepted 11 times.
Heading into their Week 13 bye, Tampa Bay is sitting at 7-5. While they should still make the playoffs without too many problems, they don’t exactly seem destined for Super Bowl greatness at the moment.
Bruce Arians has no problem blasting Tom Brady in the media
While Bill Belichick doesn’t seem like the friendliest man you’ll even meet, he doesn’t usually criticize his own players in public. Bruce Arians, however, plays by his own rules.
The veteran coach—who belongs to the ‘coach them hard, hug them later’ school of thought—has had no problem pointing the finger at Tom Brady during his press conferences. Throughout their first 12 games together, Arians has blamed his quarterback for interceptions, said he made poor throws, and even speculated that Brady was “getting confused” by defensive coverages.
Although Brady hasn’t bitten back in the public eye, some reports have suggested that things aren’t going well behind the scenes. At this point, though, it’s safe to say that something isn’t working properly in Tampa Bay.
Could Bruce Arians be criticizing Tom Brady to distract from his own failings?
Given that all we see of Tom Brady and Bruce Arians’ relationship is what happens in the public eye, it can be tough to connect the dots regarding their relationship. Has the quarterback asked his new coach to push him as hard as possible in an attempt to win another championship? Is Arians legitimately underwhelmed by Brady? Someone in the quarterback’s camp, however, suggested another possibility.
“Tom’s a big boy, he can take it,” a “source close to the quarterback,” told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports. “It’s a great way to deflect blame from Arians. Keep everybody asking about the quarterback so they don’t focus on the limitations of the scheme or the lack of adjustments being made. Are they really grinding to find every way to make this work better or just blaming the quarterback? Are they grinding all night trying to find the answers?”
There have been suggestions that Arians’ offense, which lacks pre-snap motion and includes plenty of deep balls and chunk-yardage plays, doesn’t suit Brady. And, again, from the outside, it seems like the coach isn’t ready to retool things, despite the quarterback’s struggles.
Is Bruce Arians really blasting Tom Brady in the media to distract from his own coaching failings? If he is, the smokescreen seems to be dissipating.
Stats courtesy of ESPN