The new era for Tom Brady in Tampa took a striking turn for the worse in Sunday’s stunning 38-3 home loss to the New Orleans Saints.
The worst loss of Brady’s career was accompanied by something else new to Brady in 2020 — internal criticism that surfaced in public.
A day after the Bucs’ beatdown, head coach Bruce Arians addressed his team’s shortcomings with reporters. He did not spare Brady.
Arians on Brady: ‘Just a poor throw’
The first-half end zone interception that appeared to be a miscommunication with new receiver Antonio Brown?
“Just a poor throw,” Arians said, per NFL Network.
How about the interception on a pass intended for Chris Godwin?
“The one to Chris — Chris read the route properly, [but] Tom thought he was going deep,” Arians said. “He stopped. Those things can happen sometimes when you’re doing it on the run.”
How about his connection with Pro Bowl receiver Mike Evans?
“He didn’t get targeted,” Arians said of Evans. “That’s all. Mike was open.”
Arians may not have said Brady’s name on that last one. But the message is clear. And warranted.
Brady’s very bad night
Brady threw as many interceptions (three) as the Bucs scored points on Sunday in what was easily the worst performance of his career. He completed 22 of 38 pass attempts for 209 yards without a touchdown. It added up to a 40.4 quarterback rating.
That a head coach leveled legitimate, reasoned criticism of a performance like that isn’t normally noteworthy. Except that it’s something new for Brady after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots that saw head coach Bill Belichick keep pointed criticism of his quarterback strictly in house.
Arians has done this before with Brady
Monday wasn’t the first time Arians has called out Brady. After another poor Bucs performance against the Saints in Week 1, Arians was candid about Brady’s effort that saw him throw a pair of interceptions including a pick six in the 34-23 loss.
“He knew he didn’t play very well,” Arians said in September. “ ... He looked like Tom Brady in practice all the time, so it’s kind of unusual to see that in a ball game because they didn’t do things that we didn’t get ready for.”
Since then, Brady had largely looked like his future Hall of Fame self. In leading the Bucs to six wins in seven games, Brady tallied 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions. That was before Sunday, of course.
Brady heard criticism after Week 1, and the sky didn’t fall in Tampa. How will he and the Bucs respond this time after a significantly more concerning loss?
Can Brady, Bucs bounce back again?
Things won’t be easy for the Bucs in upcoming weeks with an NFC South road game against the Carolina Panthers before back-to-back home games against the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs.
Arians said that Tampa’s fine while attempting to pinpoint his team’s problem with preparing for night games.
“I don't think our confidence is shaken one bit,” Arians said Monday. “It's playing night games and getting better prepared for them the day of the game.”
Sunday’s loss was in prime time. So was the Week 5 Thursday night loss to the Chicago Bears that saw Brady infamously forget the down count on Tampa Bay’s final drive.
If night games are an issue for the Bucs, then Week 9’s Monday night tilt against the Rams will be that much tougher. Regardless, all eyes will be on Brady between now and then.
He bounced back from a poor effort and Arians criticism in Week 1. Will the 43-year-old do it again?
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