The relationship between Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians and quarterback Tom Brady is rapidly deteriorating.
This past Sunday, the pair lost their second straight game in a 27-24 defeat at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady ultimately threw for 345 yards and three scores, but he also committed two interceptions for the second consecutive week.
After the outing, Brady abruptly cut his press conference short when pressed on his relationship with his head coach. Arians, of course, has been incessantly criticizing Brady’s play for weeks now.
This prompted many to ask: could Arians possibly be on the hot seat in Tampa Bay? Last Friday, former New England Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich appeared on ESPN’s First Take and suggested that maybe it was time for a coaching change.
Sarah Fuller went off on her teammates on Saturday. She hopes it earned her some respect. https://t.co/MxZllxpB75
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 30, 2020
“I’m giving Tom Brady a new head coach because Bruce Arians at this point right now, he’s not cutting it,” Ninkovich said. “All his interviews he is throwing players under the bus. “Asking him about Tom Brady being confused by coverages, I don’t think Tom Brady gets confused by coverages. … It’s the first time Tom Brady has ever had a head coach throw him under the bus like this.”
Interestingly enough, Ninkovich’s take is not a one-off random opinion.
The lesson here: actions have consequences. https://t.co/aVhdqhCxfN
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 27, 2020
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, Brady’s camp is growing increasingly tired of Arians’ constant jabs in the media.
“Tom’s a big boy, he can take it,” a source close to Brady told La Canfora. “It’s a great way to deflect blame from Arians. Keep everybody asking about the quarterback so they don’t focus on the limitations of the scheme or the lack of adjustments being made. Are they really grinding to find every way to make this work better or just blaming the quarterback? Are they grinding all night trying to find the answers?”
Yikes. This is gonna follow the Suns around forever. https://t.co/6pL4LZ100O
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 25, 2020
Another source confirmed that Arians believes the onus is on Brady to adjust to his preferred style of play, and not vice versa.
“This is BA’s offense and it will always be BA’s offense,” said one longtime NFL assistant who knows Arians well. “He is who he is, and they do what they do. No risk it, no biscuit. Drop it back and let it go. At this stage of his career, I don’t see that changing for anyone — not even Tom Brady.”
The problem with that strategy is that the Buccaneers are not winning with it. And whereas Super Bowl-contending teams typically tend to start picking up steam at this juncture, Tampa Bay seems to be losing more and more momentum with each passing day.
Yikes LeBron. https://t.co/EXINAEaMp0
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 24, 2020
Tampa Bay currently leads the NFL with 27 dropbacks on attempts that travel 30 yards or more. Unfortunately, Brady is posting an absolutely terrible 46.4 rating on those passes. So why keep doing it? That seems to be the question Arians is trying to deflect from with his constant Brady critique.
Part of the reason why the Bucs’ failures this year have gotten so much attention is because the team has consistently done its worst work on national television. They got beaten by the Chicago Bears on Thursday Night Football, embarrassed by the New Orleans Saints in a 35-point shellacking on Sunday Night Football, hounded by the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football, and found themselves down 17-0 within the first 15 minutes of the Chiefs game this past weekend.
Tampa Bay isn’t just failing – it’s failing on a big stage. And that has exacerbated some very real issues within the locker room and on the field that may have otherwise gone relatively unnoticed.
One way or another, the Bucs need to figure this out. And if they don’t, one of Brady or Arians has to go.