Tom Brady won't be dragged down by Bruce Arians, Buccaneers the way he was by PatriotsSporting News — (Vinnie Iyer)
When Tom Brady picked the Buccaneers as his new team after leaving the Patriots in NFL free agency, it became clear the decision had plenty to do with his potential to mesh with Tampa Bay's coach and his offense. After hearing what both Brady and Bruce Arians have said about their upcoming collaboration, we're confident he chose wisely.
The common trait both the 42-year-old Brady and the 67-year-old Arians have proved in their many years leading offenses is an ability to adjust to personnel. Although Brady was in Josh McDaniels' scheme with the Patriots for eight consecutive years, they found success with different personnel groupings. Arians has gotten the best of quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer and Jameis Winston at different stages of their careers.
"I try to learn, I try to grow and I try to evolve every year," Brady said in his introductory teleconference with Tampa Bay media Tuesday. "I’ve watched this offense over a long period of time, with a lot of different quarterbacks having a lot of success. It's a great offense for the quarterback."
Brady has remained sharp late in his career by getting the ball out quickly with sound decision-making. Arians famously has dubbed his offense "no risk it, no biscuit," but there are plenty of ways to produce big pass plays. What Arians gets in Brady is the right balance of knowing when to be aggressive and when to opt for favorable after-the-catch opportunities.
"Everybody has somewhat different styles and philosophies on how to call things," Brady said. "Football, to me, is about throwing the ball to the guy that is open. You get the ball to the guy who can do something with it."
By his standards, Brady's production dipped last season. He hit statistical lows with only 6.6 yards per attempt and an 88.0 passer rating. This created the notion that his arm strength and accuracy finally had reached a state of decline, but that wasn't the case.
The Patriots operated with one of the NFL's most limited wide receiver units once Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon disappeared as outside options. The guys who got open for Brady most of the time were short-route, mostly slot receiver Julian Edelman and trusty receiving back James White. Brady took what New England's offense gave him, and it wasn't much. The only flashes of legitimate air yards went to their default top outside receiver, Phillip Dorsett.
In that regard, compare the Patriots to the Buccaneers, whose premier deep threat Mike Evans averaged 17.3 yards per catch and 15.3 average air yards per target last season. Chris Godwin averaged 15.5 yards per catch while averaging a robust 7.1 yards after the catch. Although speedster Breshad Perriman is not returning, tight end O.J. Howard is a top field-stretcher at his position, something Brady missed without Rob Gronkowski in 2019.
In the few chances Brady had to confidently and effectively throw deep to an open man he trusted during his final Patriots season, he came through. Those chances should increase exponentially with his new weapons.
"I think the perception is just wrong. I thought his deep ball was outstanding last year," Arians said of Brady on Wednesday. "Through their play-action game, they hit a lot of deep balls. I thought he put it as well as anybody — throw it to the guy who's open."
Winston's problem was throwing deep with little regard for the consequences, often forcing the ball to receivers who weren't open and compiling a league-worst 30 interceptions. Arians admitted he is not suddenly going to turn to a "Checkdown Charlie" at quarterback, but in Brady, he sees a more calculated passer with whom the risks can be mitigated in the name of greater rewards.
"We do have reads that start deep and come in short, but I've had a couple quarterbacks that just keep looking deep — they won't throw the checkdown," Arians said. "We don't have to teach Tom that. But I think the freedom of looking downfield on certain routes and in certain situations, when the matchup's perfect — take it, don't be afraid to take it. Some quarterbacks are afraid to take it."
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The Patriots for years provided the best type of offense for Brady, but with their inability to address key skill position deficiencies, they started dragging him down. In a scheme designed by Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, with the Bucs' receiving personnel, Brady can get going again.
Arians has a quarterback he believes "can make every throw," a next-level version of what Palmer provided in his most successful Cardinals seasons. Brady can execute all aspects of Arians' offense without the frustration a younger, less accomplished passer might cause.