November 29, 2022

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Tom Brady ‘was playing bad,’ Bruce Arians says on Bucs’ struggles

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Tom Brady’s former coach had a candid take about why the Buccaneers were struggling from the end of September through October, a stretch that saw Tampa Bay drop five of six games. 

Bruce Arians, currently Tampa’s senior advisor to general manager Jason Licht, put it squarely on Brady in an interview with JoeBucsFan.com, deflecting blame from offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.

“I don’t think it was fair to Byron,” Arians said in the interview. “Nobody is going to say that 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.’ “

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Tampa Bay has won its first two games in November to improve its record to 5-5, good enough for first place in the NFC South. The victories have come against the Rams and the Seahawks, with the latter game taking place Sunday in Germany.

Through 10 games this season, Brady has completed a league-leading 282 passes on 427 attempts — also most in the NFL — for 2,805 yards with 12 touchdowns versus only two interceptions. The yardage total ranks second behind only Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (2,936 yards).

Arians coached Brady during the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the first of which resulted in a Tampa Bay Super Bowl championship in Brady’s first season with the franchise. In March, however, Arians, 70, announced he was stepping down as the head coach of the Buccaneers and indicated he would be moving into a front office role.

As his coach, Arians had not shied away from directly criticizing Brady’s performance but it’s rare for a member of a team’s front office to publicly criticize a player’s performance in interviews.

The Buccaneers are on their bye Week 11, but will return to action the following week in a game against the Cleveland Browns.

“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season,” Arians said. “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. Seattle’s a good running team, but that kid (running back Kenneth Walker) went nowhere.”

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