Brady vs. Jameis part. 2
Currently, the biggest argument going against Tom Brady’s success is that the Bucs gave him all of the help they refused to provide to Winston. This would imply that the franchise deliberately took steps to see Winston fail while bending over backward to help the “less-talented” Brady.
This would be a fair criticism if it were true or even remotely accurate.
This argument is predicated on the belief that the Buccaneers actively tanked for Jameis Winston, much like the Eagles did last night, used a first overall pick to draft a franchise quarterback, watched him revolutionize the position for the franchise, and then refused to add any offensive weapons to watch him fail.
Who were the first picks after Jameis Winston? Donovan Smith and Ali Marpet. This came on the heels of drafting Mike Evans in the prior year, and the following year was filled with defensive players to take the pressure off Winston. 2017 and 2018 saw three offensive skill players taken in the first three rounds to serve as additional targets, and the Bucs added offensive linemen during three of the five drafts that Winston was involved with the team.
Finally, the team’s weakest part, the kicking, received a second and a fifth-round pick to rectify the problem. The Buccaneers’ shocking inability to draft during this period actually showed a team that desperately wanted to support its young quarterback but was too inept to do so. This is very different from not trying to help at all. But the draft was not the only way to find additional players.
Tampa Bay did everything in their power to bring back All-Pro running back Doug Martin, they acquired DeSean Jackson in free agency, and they paid Donovan Smith early as a means to guarantee protection for Winston down the road.
The Buccaneers have been terrible at many things over the years, but you can’t fault them for trying to find talent as a means to help. Now let’s look at Brady.
Of the 11 starters on offense last season in 12 personnel (the Buccaneers’ primary grouping), the Bucs lost three players, but only two that affected Brady. Breshad Perriman and Demar Dotson departed in free agency, and they were replaced by Scott Miller and Tristan Wirfs.
The Tristan Wirfs argument is one of the funniest. “Why wouldn’t the Bucs ever draft a player like Tristan Wirfs for Jameis,” they ask. First, a player like Wirfs was never the top need for the Buccaneers, and second, Tampa Bay would’ve absolutely made the same selection with Winston at quarterback. Everyone knew at this point last season that the Bucs were eying a tackle in the first round, and Winston was still the favorite to return.
The one thing that most people tend to forget is the “Tom Brady effect.” If it wasn’t for Brady, free agency might have gone very differently. Why would Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown come to Tampa Bay without Brady? This was because of Brady, not for him, and the front office actively fought on adding Brown. If the Buccaneers thought they had any chance of landing either player for Winston, they would’ve done it, but this was an impossible ask without Brady at the helm.