Tom Brady and Bruce Arians are sinking the Buccaneers' ship
Updated: Dec 16, 2020
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were the NFL’s offseason darling. Tom Brady’s arrival in Florida signalled a new era for a franchise that will host Super Bowl 55.
By Tayyib Abu.
Brady enticed Rob Gronkowski to join him, and recently the Hall of Famer got Antonio Brown back in the NFL. Adding all this to a team that already had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin made the Bucs the NFC favourite in most people’s opinions.
Brady opted for the Buccaneers because the team has so much talent at the skill positions. This situation was vastly different from his last year in New England. Pair this talented offense with a loaded defense and this team would fly. Brady wouldn’t turn the ball over like Jameis Winston. Brady was going to be the final piece in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl puzzle.
Not entirely. At 7-4, Brady’s Bucs are behind the surging Saints in the NFC South. New Orleans also holds the divisional tiebreaker. Tampa Bay is amongst a gaggle of NFC teams who may or may not be good. Due to the scarcity of depth in the NFC, it has been hard to judge many so-called contenders. However, the Bucs have played several vital games. They have lost all but one of those games.
Tampa Bay does not look good enough to be hosting its own Super Bowl party in February, and right now that is down to two men.
Bruce and Brady
Tom Brady has made a living out of working from a three-step drop or five-step drop. That allowed him to release the ball in an instant. It protected him from pressure which has been the essential story of Brady’s career. Only in the New England offense would players such as Wes Welker, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman come to the fore. Brady excelled throwing between the numbers, throwing his players into space and evading pressure.
But that has not been the story in Tampa.
Bruce Arians deploys a vertical offense. It is a big play, deep route running offense. That offense requires the quarterback to take deep dropbacks to give his receivers time. Brady has gone from a quick passing game to a slow-developing game. It does not suit him. That is why the results have been inconsistent.
He has one successful pass in his last 21 attempts. His QBR is 13th in the NFL. Brady’s problem isn’t the arm strength. That is no worse or better than it ever has been.
It is his timing that is the issue. Brady has always had difficulty with internal pocket pressure. A deeper dropback gives time to interior linemen to penetrate the pocket. Brady then can’t step into his throws as he would like. He doesn’t slide right or left like some quarterbacks.
That is why he is missing throws. He threw a great ball to Evans on Sunday, but it was two steps out of time. Evans’ route beat the defender, but Brady didn’t step into the throw. He was throwing from a neutral platform. And this is the crux of the matter. Brady is out of rhythm for this offense. He still has the skill to play at a high level, but he has no chemistry with his teammates. He needs to check his ego and fix that.
Or will Bruce Arians check his ego and adapt his offense? Coach Arians has a tremendous amount of experience. He has worked with Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck to name but a few. He is a quarterback whisperer. However, he is also a quarterback critic. He will call his players out in the media unless he’s a rookie such as Luck.
He’s said things such as Brady may have misread the coverage, that he has called the wrong play. That is not conducive when trying to build a relationship with a man who is going straight to the Hall of Fame when he is eligible. Coach Arians is trying to assert his authority. He lost the battle when Brady brought in Brown. The coach has already stated that he didn’t want Brown. But Brady did; so, Tampa brought in AB.
Arians has been on Super Bowl-winning teams. He knows how to create an exciting offense. Conversely, Tom Brady has won six Super Bowls, and he knows how to play his style of offense.
Something has to give.
Will it change?
In a word, no. Bruce Arians doesn’t care if it’s Tom Brady, he will not change. Will Brady adapt? He has to if he plans on grabbing a seventh Lombardi trophy. Brady has all the weapons around him. Now he needs to adapt to the scheme. The scheme won’t change for him. But after 20 years of success, running a dink and dunk offense that has led him to greatness; can he change? I don’t think so. Brady wanted more power in Tampa. He had a say on roster construction; he expected to install his offense. That has not been the case.
When the Bucs have played elite teams, the offense has been trashed. The Saints made Brady look like a broken old man pretending to play quarterback. That will have hurt him, no doubt about it. He will not blame himself, that is understandable. He will blame his coach. That is not healthy. Brady is still good enough, but playing in one system for so long has made him far too comfortable. It is wrong to expect a veteran coach in Bruce Arians to bend to the whims of one player. Tom Brady is the so-called GOAT; he needs to work this offense out.
The coach and quarterback relationship is the most crucial relationship in the NFL. Joe Montana had Bill Walsh. Roger Staubach had Tom Landry. Jimmie Johnson viewed Troy Aikman as a surrogate son, while Brett Favre viewed Mike Holmgren like a second father. Those relationships led their teams to championships. Not many Super Bowl-winning teams won with their coach and quarterback at loggerheads.
Right now, Arians is the captain of his ship, but Lieutenant Brady is challenging him for power. Both are letting their egos run wild, and that is causing significant friction. We expected to see the Buccaneers’ ship dock into Super Bowl 55 in February. However, with the two crucial crewmen arguing about who has the biggest proverbial, that ship may sink before we even get to January.