Bruce Arians Places Part of Blame on Tom Brady for Bucs’ Early Season Struggles

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Riding a two-game winning-streak and sitting in first place in the NFC South, it’d be easy to overlook the struggles the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) endured to open up the 2022 NFL season.

The Buccaneers dropped three games in a row through October, the first such streak for quarterback Tom Brady since 2002. If not for 35 seconds of Brady magic, Tampa Bay would have dropped a fourth in Week 9 against the Los Angeles Rams (3-6). Through the stretch, the Buccaneers owned a bottom-five scoring offense in the NFL and the league’s worst rushing attack in 50 years.

Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich took the brunt of the criticism for predictable play-calling and mismanagement of elite weapons such as receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Bruce Arians, however, doesn’t see it that way. The former Buccaneers head coach, who stepped down in March and handed the reigns to Todd Bowles, said that some of the offense’s struggles can be contributed to the play of Brady.

“I don’t think it was fair to Byron,” Arians recently told Ira Kaufman of “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.'”

Arians, 70, serves as a senior football consultant for the Buccaneers and can still be spotted at practice riding around on a golf cart. He retired after guiding Tampa Bay to a Super Bowl championship in 2020 and a 13-win regular season in 2021.

Bruce Arians Optimistic Of Buccaneers, Tom Brady Rest of the Way

The Buccaneers got back on track in Week 10 with a 21-16 victory over the Seattle Seahawks (6-4) in the first-ever NFL game in Munich, Germany. For just the fifth time this season, Tampa Bay surpassed 20 points, with the running game leading the way.

The switch to rookie running back Rachaad White as starter proved to be key, as the third-round pick ran for 105 yards on 22 carries. Arians had high praise for White, comparing him to a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back.

“I told you way back when that White’s going to take this thing over,” Arians said. “He’s just too freaking good. He sees it, he’s got power, he’s got speed. He can run routes like a wide receiver. I think he’s very much like an Edgerrin James. He can run, he can catch and he’s a little bowlegged, just like Edgerrin.”

The Buccaneers face just two teams over .500 in the final seven games of their season. Standing alone as the only team with a winning record in the division, Arians is optimistic the Buccaneers will have success the rest of the season.

“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season,” Arians said. “First off, we’re getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He’s going to be fine. I love the swagger we played with Sunday, especially defensively. It’s been missing.”