FTB: Why Tom Brady joining the Bucs won’t be as good as people think

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The Belichick-Brady dynasty has come to an end.

Abe Seldowitz, Staff Writer

In one of the most high-profile free agency signings in the history of sports, Tom Brady agreed to a fully guaranteed two-year deal worth $50 million with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brady will leave behind a 20-year legacy in New England in which he came in as a sixth-round draft pick and left with six Super Bowl rings, three MVPs and four Super Bowl MVPs. He experienced unprecedented success in a league built for parity. 

Legendary head coach Bill Belichick was able to create a team for which winning was the sole focus and every player bought into the team-first mentality or was let go. Every player who plays for the Patriots is expected to put his ego aside for the team’s success. The Buccaneers are a different organization. They do not have the Patriots’ winning pedigree, having gone 62-114 since 2009 while the Patriots have gone 135-41 in that span with three Super Bowl trophies. The question for Brady is whether the Buccaneer players will ask him to buy into the concept of team, rather than individual, success like his teammates on the Patriots did. 

Looking at the Buccaneers, it’s not clear they expect the team ideal from a soon-to-be 43-year-old quarterback like Tom Brady. Buccaneers’ head coach Bruce Arians is an extremely aggressive offensive mind whose motto has been “No risk it, no biscuit.” The aggressive offense was a mixed bag for the Buccaneers in 2019. The offense was ranked third in yards and tied for third in points-per-game. The team’s quarterback Jameis Winston, however, also led the league in interceptions with 30.

This aggressive mindset will not work for Tom Brady. He has never been a risk-taker and certainly will not be at this point in his career. Brady has never had a great arm, instead relying on his ability to understand defenses’ weaknesses and make short-yardage, high-percentage plays.  

In an aggressive offense, the quarterback must hold the ball for a long time to allow receivers to run their routes down the field. Tom Brady, though, may be the least mobile quarterback in the league, and he will be exposed if he is asked to hold on to the ball for a long time. For this relationship to work, Arians will have to focus on the short passing game and allow Brady to use his extensive knowledge of defensive schemes to manipulate defenses. In 2019, the Patriots fielded the No. 1 ranked defense in both yards and points. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers finished 15th in yards allowed and 29th in points allowed. This means Brady and the Buccaneers’ offense might be playing from behind a lot in 2020, forcing him to drift from the playing style he prefers.  

On the bright side, the Buccaneers’ offense does have arguably the best receiving core in football with Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. The Tampa Bay receivers finished second and fourth in receiving yards per game, respectively. Although Brady will have better weapons to use on offense than he has ever had with the Patriots (except for the 2007 season with teammates Randy Moss and Wes Welker), the fact that he will be 43 years old when the season starts might mean he will not be able to maximize their talents. The system he is going into also pales in comparison to the dynasty the Patriots have built over two decades. Only time will tell how the Brady-Buccaneers experiment works out.