Tom Brady is to blame for many of the Bucs’ woes, coach Bruce Arians says

The deep ball has suddenly eluded the quarterback, in part due to a lack of continuity.
Bucs  quarterback Tom Brady (12) heads off the field after throwing his second interception Monday night in Tampa.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) heads off the field after throwing his second interception Monday night in Tampa. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Nov. 24, 2020|Updated Nov. 24, 2020

TAMPA — He was blamed for not hitting the deep passes and missing a few of the short ones, as well. He was called out for misreading coverage and held accountable for two interceptions, including one of the worst you can imagine that killed a fourth-quarter comeback.

The Tom Brady bash that began after Monday night’s 27-24 loss to the Rams was still in full swing the following afternoon.

The only thing unusual about it was that coach Bruce Arians — who continues to violate the Omerta of coaching Brady — hosted the party.

Such criticism was always held behind closed doors in New England.

But Brady did play poorly against a good Rams defense. In addition to throwing two interceptions, his 48 passes gained only 216 yards, or 4.5 per attempt.

“Other than the deep ball, I think he’s getting confused a few times with the coverage,” Arians said. “That might be the cause for some inaccurate balls, but I don’t see it at all in practice. We’re not missing the deep ball in practice, that’s for sure. It’s just a matter on Sundays (or Monday night) hitting them.”

Brady needed only a field goal to tie the game when the Bucs got the ball back with 2:32 remaining and one time out.

He moved his team near midfield before trying to connect with tight end Cameron Brate on a seam route, despite the Rams having a deep safety. The pass was overthrown and intercepted by rookie safety Jordan Fuller with 1:49 remaining. It was Fuller’s second pick of the game.

Brady has struggled with the deep ball. On passes of 20-plus yards in the air, he went 14 for 39 during Weeks 1-7. But he is 0 for 19 on the same throws in Weeks 8-11.

It’s fair to ask why the Bucs are attempting so many vertical passes if that’s what they don’t do well.

“Yes and no,” Arians said. “We’ve got guys open, we’ve just missed them. And there are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our gameplan more of or less of. Each and every week is a little different. But when they’re there, we need to hit them. We can’t have them going off our fingertips, and we can’t overthrow them.”

Brady went 1 for 9 for 18 yards on passes 15 or more yards downfield against the Rams. Receiver Antonio Brown failed to catch a deep pass that was just off his hands.

Then again, when Brady attempted to throw short, that also backfield. There were four drops by Bucs running backs, including three by Leonard Fournette. Though Arians took issue with characterizing those incompletions as drops.

“The one to RoJo (Ronald Jones) was not,” Arians said. “I mean, that screen hadn’t even developed yet. We turned a guy loose on the right side with a mental error and threw the screen way too fast.

“Leonard (Fournette) probably should’ve caught ― he can catch ― two out of those three. Tom can throw a better ball, too, so it’s a combination of both.”

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Don’t expect the Bucs to utilize LeSean McCoy, who has 513 career receptions.

“We look at every option every week,” Arians said. “Leonard has never had any problem dropping the ball. He’s got excellent hands, and he’s a little bit better protector. We’ll see how that goes.”

Despite have played 11 games, Brady continues to look uncomfortable in Arians’ offense.

Will Arians’ public criticism hurt his relationship with Brady?

“It can’t help it,” ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky said on NFL Live. “I don’t think it affects Brady. He’s got a steel trap in his mind. He’s the greatest ever for tuning out the noise. But I’ll say this, as a head coach, when you point a finger at someone else, you have four coming back.

“Here’s the thing, if you think your quarterback is getting confused with coverage ― I don’t think he is — what are you doing to help with coverage?”

One thing that may help Brady would be to let him call his own plays. “Yeah, we have Tom calling a lot of his own (plays), picking his own from the sidelines from the game,” Arians said.

Whatever the Bucs are doing, it’s not working. Oh, and here come the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

Though it’s hard to believe, the greatest quarterback of all time still doesn’t look comfortable — or confident — in the Bucs’ offense.

“I don’t think it’s a confidence problem whatsoever,” Arians said. “It’s not a lack of trust. It’s just a lack of continuity within the offense. The whole picture.”