NFL

Bruce Arians threw Tom Brady under the bus defending Byron Leftwich

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn’t hold back in blaming some of the team’s problems on Tom Brady’s poor performance. 

Bruce Arians has never been shy about letting Tom Brady know when he’s underperforming.

Back in 2020, when Arians criticized Brady’s play before media, it was a shock for Patriots fans who followed Brady to Tampa Bay. Arians has never been one to withhold his perspective, and in an interview with JoeBucsFan.com, Arians elaborated on how the Buccaneers’ recent offensive difficulties have been unfairly lumped onto offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. Rather than Leftwich making bad calls, Brady should be more criticized for making bad plays, according to Arians.

“I don’t think it was fair to Byron. 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.’”

Bruce Arians: Byron Leftwich criticism hasn’t been fair; Tom Brady was playing poorly

While the Bucs have been celebrated for their creative play-calling in Munich — aside from Tom Brady’s failed Randy Moss impersonation — a month ago, it was a different story. After a three-game losing streak that left the Buccaneers 3-5, reporters began to ask Buccaneers coaches and players about their run game strategy. Run plays seemed predictable when they were run, but because they were so ineffective, they usually weren’t. The Leonard Fournette fans saw in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys seemed to disappear in subsequent weeks, and the blame fell on Leftwich.

Why the Bucs weren’t using Rachaad White was a mystery, one the team addressed in their Week 10 victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Munich. Both Fournette and White hustled, allowing the Bucs increased flexibility with their play-calling such as successful play action execution.

While the Bucs seemed to have found the answer to their woes before the bye week, a month ago, the public confidence in Leftwich was waning. Nothing changed for the Bucs coaching staff, according to Arians.

“I talked to Byron every day when that was happening. He doesn’t read the papers and nothing bothers Byron. That’s what I love about him and that’s why he’ll be a damned good head coach one day, because he weathers everything. And Todd does, too.”

While Bruce Arians effused with praise for Byron Leftwich, Todd Bowles and Rachaad White, he was his usual self when it came to Tom Brady, knocking the GOAT a little from his lofty perch. But just as Arians is candid with criticism, he’s always been candid with compliments, too.

“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season. First off, we’re getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He’s going to be fine.”