Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians has not withheld criticism of Tom Brady so far this season. NFL Network’s Bucky Brooks, who is both a former NFL player and scout, believes Arians’ comments indicate the Bucs coach may be wishing the team had gone in a different direction at quarterback over the offseason.
“I hope Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kept their receipts on the Tom Brady purchase, seeing how the head coach appears to have a bit of buyer’s remorse,” Brooks pondered on NFL.com. “Arians’ critical comments on his offense’s recent struggles reveal a lot about how he views his 43-year-old quarterback’s play.”
Brady signed a two-year, $50 million contract with the Buccaneers this offseason giving him a $25 million salary for each of the next two seasons. It is a reasonable deal by NFL quarterback standards but the transition has been most glaring when the Buccaneers take on the best teams on their schedule. At the risk of oversimplifying, the Buccaneers have beat inferior opponents and struggled against some of the top NFL teams.
Brooks particularly pointed to Arians’ criticism of Brady’s accuracy after the Buccaneers’ loss to the Rams in Week 11. There are plenty of other examples of Arians providing a blunt assessment of his quarterback.
“We’ve got the guys open. We’ve just missed ’em,” Arians noted, per ESPN. “There are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan. … But when they’re there, we need to hit ’em. We can’t have ’em going off our fingertips and we can’t overthrow ’em.
Tom Brady Is on Pace to Join Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston & Carson Palmer as QBs Who Had Career-High Interceptions in Bruce Arians’ Offense
Brooks splits some of the blame for the Buccaneers’ woes between Brady and Arians as the Tampa coach has valid points with his criticism. Brady has eight touchdowns to nine interceptions in the Bucs’ five losses compared to 20 touchdowns and two interceptions in Tampa’s seven victories.
The Bucs quarterback also has a 68 percent completion rate in those seven wins, much higher than in their defeats. Brooks suggests the Buccaneers move to more short-to-intermediate throws to play to Brady’s strengths.
“Given those struggles, Tampa Bay would be wise to feature a short-to-intermediate passing game to maximize Brady’s talents as a rhythm thrower,” Brooks continued. “TB12 remains one of the NFL’s best passers to intermediate range (10-19 air yards), boasting a 66.7 percent completion rate (second in the league), 11.2 yards per attempt (eighth), nine touchdowns (tied for second) and a 123.1 passer rating (third).”
It will be worth watching how the Buccaneers offense will look when the team returns from their bye. Arians scoffed at the idea of the Bucs utilizing more pre-snap motion as many analysts have suggested. During his weekly press conference heading into the bye, Arians outlined how he sees the Buccaneers staff utilizing the additional time.
“The self-scouting and stuff that we do is [on] ourselves,” Arians said, via USA Today. “We’ve got every play listed that we’ve run all season – the yards, the average, the completions – everything statistically for the entire season [and] for the last four ballgames, which is usually what another team breaks down. …Again, it’s more about us – our tendencies, our pluses, our minuses, where we’ve been successful and where we haven’t been.”
Brooks on Brady: ‘The Lack of Chemistry & Execution From the Offense Falls Squarely on the Quarterback’
While Brooks was critical of Brady and Arians, the NFL Network analyst believes Brady deserves more of the criticism. Brooks argues that Arians’ changes to both the playbook and roster have been a nod to Brady, and the quarterback is not getting nearly enough of the blame for his inconsistent play this season.
“Here’s the thing, though: The Buccaneers have already turned over the offense to Brady, giving him the freedom to call the plays or tweak the game plan,” Brooks concluded. “According to Arians, the QB has significant input on which plays are featured prominently on the call sheet. …The lack of chemistry and execution from the offense falls squarely on the quarterback, and Arians is right to hold Brady accountable. The six-time Super Bowl champion joined the Buccaneers with the expectation that his arrival would change the team’s culture. But Tampa really needs him to improve his own play down the stretch.”