Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to say what some might have thought.
The former Buccaneers coach, 70, criticized Tom Brady’s play in a new interview, stating that the 45-year-old quarterback should bear some of the blame for Tampa Bay’s struggles this season, and that the coaching staff didn’t deserve to be the scapegoats.
“I don’t think it was fair to Byron,” Arians said of offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, according to JoeBucsFan.com. “No one is going to say Brady played badly, but he played badly. We also had growing pains on a young offensive front and we weren’t running well. There comes a point when as a play-caller you lose yards running the ball and you say : ‘Forget this, I’m putting the ball in Tom’s hands.’”
Despite starting the season 2-0, the Buccaneers struggled for most of October, dropping three consecutive games.
In 10 games this season, including Sunday’s 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Germany, Brady has thrown 12 touchdowns against two interceptions. He threw 40 and 43 touchdowns respectively in his first two years with the Buccaneers.
While the Buccaneers appear to be back on track 5-5, the 2022 season has been a rough one for Brady, who divorced his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, in October after 13 years of marriage.
Prior to the couple’s formal divorce announcement, rumors circulated that Brady’s decision to retire from the NFL had been a contributing factor. Brady said last week he has “zero” regrets about returning to football in light of the recent challenges.
“I came back because I felt like I wanted to get involved, and I talked to the team about it, and they were excited to have me back,” Brady told ESPN.
Brady returned to the Buccaneers in March, the same month Arians stepped down from his position as head coach. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles then took the top job, with Arians sliding into a front office role.
Leading up to the coaching shakeup, however, whispers of tension between Arians and Brady grew louder, despite the Super Bowl-winning coach calling “bulls-t” to the accusations.
Arians later said Brady’s return did factor in his decision to move on professionally.
“Tom was kind of key. When Tom decided to come back … and all these guys back now, it’s perfect timing for me to just go to the front office and still have the relationships that I love,” Arians told Pro Football Talk and the LA Times.
Arians and Brady won the Super Bowl in February 2021 to cap off their first year together in Tampa.