Tom Brady has been around the NFL for quite some time — 21 years to be exact. He’s experienced a great deal of rule change and adjustment since debuting.
For the most part, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has taken each rule change on the chin and rolled with it. Brady’s focus has always been on winning the next Super Bowl instead of fighting the league’s rule committee over minor adjustments.
However, Brady isn’t holding back after a recent — rather notable — adjustment to the NFL’s jersey number policy.
Tom Brady hates the NFL’s new jersey number policy
The NFL passed this new jersey number rule during the offseason, which the Kansas City Chiefs proposed. The newly implemented rule eliminates most of the previous restrictions regarding which numbers certain positions can and cannot wear. Tight ends and wide receivers can now wear any number 1-49 and 80-89. Defensive backs can wear 1-49 and linebackers 1-59 and 90-99.
A seemingly minor change in the grand scheme of things. However, Brady has spent most of the offseason criticizing it. Brady lashed out at the policy on April 22 soon after it was passed and criticized it again on September 7:
“The number rule is crazy,” Brady said. “Literally, guys changed their numbers today. I’m playing two guys who had different numbers in the preseason. So, yeah you’ve got to watch film and know who you’re studying but so do running backs. They’ve got to know who to block. So does the offensive line. So does the receivers who are adjusting their routes based on blitzes.”
“So one guys has got a 6, one guy has 11, one guy has got a 9. And they change every play when you break your routes and get to your spot. It’s going to be a very challenging thing. It’s a good advantage for the defense, which that’s what it is.”Tom Brady via Tampa Bay Times
Will the rule give the Dallas Cowboys an advantage?
The Buccaneers’ season kicks off Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, and according to B/R Gridiron, Brady is concerned that this new numbers rule will aid the Cowboys’ defense.
Brady reportedly puts a great amount of stock into reading the numbers on the field, using them as a guide when assessing coverages and routes.
For what it’s worth, the Cowboys and Buccaneers will obviously be wearing different colors during Week 1. It shouldn’t be all that hard for Brady — a future Hall of Famer — to distinguish who’s open and who isn’t.
Still, it’s understandable that this change is affecting Brady more than most quarterbacks. He’s been reading and reacting to defenses one specific way for 20-plus years. Now, he’s being asked to change that in the span of an offseason.
Tom Brady and the Bucs should still be considered favorites
Confusing jersey numbers or not, Brady and the Bucs should still be considered the favorites against the Cowboys during Thursday Night Football.
Tampa Bay is fresh off a dominating Super Bowl run, and the Cowboys are dealing with a few key injuries. Quarterback Dak Prescott missed most of last season with an ankle injury and is currently battling shoulder soreness, while offensive guard Zack Martin will be absent due to coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.
Win or lose; it will surely be interesting to see if the single-digits in the secondary have a noticeable effect on Brady’s play.