Having won two consecutive games, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be playing better as of late, but there was a time when several NFL observers began to question how much the 45-year-old QB had left in the tank.
Perhaps those suggestions were at an all-time high during the Bucs’ three-game losing streak from Weeks 6-8, when Tampa Bay lost to Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. While Baltimore may be leading their division, Carolina and Pittsburgh have a combined record of 6-13 this season, with two of those wins coming against Brady’s bunch.
Needless to say, losing to two of the worst teams in football naturally led to a lot of skepticism regarding Tampa Bay’s ability to compete this season. Two weeks later, and the Buccaneers are back to .500, atop their division, and can afford to at least not hit the panic button, for now.
But what was it about that three-game stretch? Why were the Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl just two seasons ago, suddenly struggling to top some of the bottom-feeders of the NFL?
Former head coach and current ‘senior football consultant’ with the Bucs, Bruce Arians, has a theory.
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Bruce Arians doesn’t hold back, rips Tom Brady
Sure, Arians has never been one to bite his lip. If there’s something he wants to say, the 70-year-old New Jersey native will spray it.
In this case, Arians was speaking with Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com, where the former coach gave a behind-the-scenes look into why he felt the team experienced a lull a few weeks back. And he was quick to pile the blame on Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champ, among a few other areas.
“I don’t think it was fair to Byron (Leftwich). Nobody is going to say that (Tom) Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad. We also had growing pains on a young offensive front and we weren’t running well. There comes a time as a play caller when you’re losing yards running the ball and you say, ‘Forget this, I’m putting the ball in Tom’s hands.”Tampa Bay Buccaneers senior football consultant Bruce Arians on team’s previous struggles
Alright, so how did Brady do from Weeks 6-8 when the Bucs were losing?
- Tom Brady stats (Weeks 6-8 of 2022): 62.4% completion rate, 858 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 6 sacks
Brady wasn’t completing passes at a high rate; he was averaging a healthy 286 passing yards per game, didn’t turn the ball over once, yet only found the end zone twice across 180 minutes of play.
The completion rate is certainly lower than his season average, the yardage is actually ahead of his average, but the lack of touchdowns are the big problem here.
Yet, it may be unfair to say Brady was playing badly. Either way, both Brady and the Bucs have been better as of late. Just like his former mentor Bill Belichick, the losing seems to have taken a toll on the QB, but he’s starting to come around, according to Arians.
“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season. First off, we’re getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He’s going to be fine. I love the swagger we played with Sunday, especially defensively. It’s been missing.”
Isn’t that something? Brady’s even back to smiling on the football field. What a gift.