Former head coach Bruce Arians didn’t mince words when addressing what went wrong for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season.
Bruce Arians is never one to sugarcoat things, something that has both been a blessing and a curse throughout his career in the NFL.
During the 2020 season, he openly called out Tom Brady for not playing up to his expected standards when the team got off to a sluggish start. The resulting
content helped fill the bellies of sports talk shows for months but ultimately resulted in a Super Bowl victory for the Buccaneers.
The ensuing two years didn’t go as planned, though, with last season being a particular stinker. It’s not hyperbole to call it the single most disappointing season in franchise history, as Tampa Bay turned in a classically mediocre season despite having Hall of Fame talent on both sides of the ball.
Byron Leftwich ended up being the scapegoat when the dust settled, but the play of Tom Brady was often criticized throughout the year. He wasn’t actively bad, rather it was the first time in his career that he wasn’t good enough to override what didn’t go right.
It was truly a fall from grace considering where the 2020 season ended and the deserted island last season was marooned on.
Bruce Arians: “It wasn’t the real Tom Brady out there”
While appearing on The Rich Eisen Show, Arians addressed what he felt went wrong for the Bucs last season and specifically mentioned Brady.
“Tom wasn’t himself, you know, with all the things that were going on,” Arians said. “And I got to give him all the credit in the world for battling through what he went through last year for his teammates. I think the world of him but it wasn’t the real Tom Brady out there.”
That’s not necessarily a glowing endorsement, but it’s not an indictment of Brady either. It didn’t take much squinting to see that there was something off about Brady last season, and Arians has simply said the quiet part out loud in terms of what fans were internalizing all season.
Most of the noise was made about Leftwich and not Brady, but fans could tell he wasn’t the same quarterback he had been for the Bucs the last two seasons. From skipping most of training camp to taking Wednesdays during the season off, there were legitimate on-field things to be concerned about with Brady aside from the very obvious off-field issues he was trying to deal with.
Last year was just off in general, and everyone could sense it. Arians simply put words to that bummer of a feeling — without placing blame, mind you — which in a way sort of makes things feel better.