Bruce Arians isn’t afraid to say what some may have been thinking.
The former Buccaneers coach, 70, criticized Tom Brady’s play in a new interview, stating how the 45-year-old quarterback should shoulder 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. “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.’”
Despite opening the season 2-0, the Buccaneers struggled throughout much of October, dropping three straight games.
Through 10 games this season, including Sunday’s 21-16 win 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.
Although the Buccaneers appear to be back on track at 5-5, the 2022 season has been a difficult one for Brady, who divorced his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, in October after 13 years of marriage.
Prior to the couple’s formal divorce announcement, rumors circulated that Brady’s decision to unretire from the NFL had been a contributing factor. Brady said last week that he has “zero” regrets about returning to football in light of recent challenges.
“I returned because I felt like I wanted to compete, and I spoke to the team about it, and they were excited to have me back,” Brady said, per ESPN.
Brady returned to the Buccaneers in March, the same month Arians stepped down from his post 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” on the allegations.
Arians later expressed that Brady’s return did factor into his decision to move on professionally.
“Tom was kind of the key. When Tom decided to come back … and all of these guys back now, it’s the perfect timing for me just to go into 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.