While it may feel like an eternity ago, Tom Brady left the New England Patriots earlier this season. After two decades in Foxboro, the quarterback decided to head south and join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; although the season hasn’t begun, the veteran is already making an impact with his new team.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 NFL offseason has been slightly different than usual, but that hasn’t stopped Tom Brady. The quarterback has already galvanized his team in a way that Jameis Winston never could.
Tom Brady represents an upgrade over Jameis Winston
Barring a select few clubs, like the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, virtually any NFL team would love to add Tom Brady to their roster. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, the quarterback represents a major upgrade.
For the past five years, the Buccaneers have taken the field with Jameis Winston under center. While the quarterback has always possessed plenty of potential, he never quite developed into an NFL star. In 2019, for example, he piled up 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns, but also threw 30 interceptions and fumbled 12 times. Depending on the week, he was capable of leading the Buccaneers to victory or throwing the game away.
Although Tom Brady doesn’t possess Winston’s athleticism, he does bring a safe pair of hands and a cool head to Tampa Bay. During his NFL career, the veteran quarterback has never thrown more than 14 interceptions during a single season; while he isn’t always the most aggressive passer, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. Given the Buccaneers’ talent—Brady will be throwing to Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, and Chris Godwin—simply holding onto the ball should be enough to win at least a few more football games.
Becoming a ‘pied piper’ unlike Jameis Winston
When Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he immediately asked for his new teammates’ phone numbers. It seems like that wasn’t an empty gesture; the quarterback is already becoming a leader of the team.
“Brady is the Pied Piper for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” Mike Girardi of the NFL Network explained. “This isn’t to disparage what Jameis Winston did there, but Brady is drawing all kinds of attention from his teammates for the energy that he is bringing not only in these workouts that he has organized but also, I was told, he is lighting up the Zoom meetings [with] intelligent questions, personality, [and by] engaging with teammates. This is exactly what they need.”
“I was also told by another player, ‘Look, he’s not waiting. He is aggressive. He is going to be, he is becoming our leader. It’s happening right now even though we are not together on a regular basis as a team in person,” Giardi continued.
While he was careful to note that the observation wasn’t a shot at Jameis Winston, the message was clear. Tom Brady, whether it’s through his clout, his personality, or a combination of factors, has brought the Buccaneers together in a way that the previous quarterback hadn’t.
Tom Brady’s real test will come on the football field
While leadership is always good, it’s relatively easy to take charge during practices or Zoom calls. The real test for Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, will come in the regular season.
Based on his time in the NFL, we know that Brady is an elite quarterback; stepping into a new system after decades in New England, though, will be a new challenge. The NFC South is also a bit different than the AFC East. Brady can’t cruise to a division title with the New Orleans Saints and a potentially improved Carolina Panthers waiting in the wings.
Other than working out in a closed park and accidentally entering the wrong house, Tom Brady has been saying and doing all the right things in Tampa. That won’t mean much, though, if the team can’t win on Sunday.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference