Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Even while ‘retired,’ Tom Brady never stopped game strategizing

Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen says he thinks Brady “couldn’t picture himself not playing football.”
Quarterback Tom Brady still has unfinished business after the Bucs' 2021 season ended in a loss to the eventual Super Bowl 56 champion Rams.
Quarterback Tom Brady still has unfinished business after the Bucs' 2021 season ended in a loss to the eventual Super Bowl 56 champion Rams. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Mar. 15

TAMPA — When Clyde Christensen spoke to Tom Brady a couple days ago, it was if the future Hall of Famer had never retired.

Six weeks had passed since the Bucs lost 30-27 to the Rams in an NFC division playoff game, but Brady was preparing as if the Bucs had a game to play this week.

“It felt like the morning after we had just lost to the Rams,” Christensen told the Tampa Bay Times. “He had a list. He said, ‘Here’s how we can be better.’ I think he had been out of retirement 12 hours or so by then.

“The first thing he said was he didn’t want to go out that way. He wanted to make sure we do everything to win it all next year.”

Christensen said he wasn’t sure if there was a tipping point that caused Brady to want to return to the Bucs only 40 days after walking away from football.

“I honestly don’t know,” Christensen said. “I think he couldn’t picture himself not playing football. He’s a football player. The problem is he’s a football player at the top of his game. That’s the bottom line.”

Related: Tom Brady’s phone call icing on cake for Bucs center Ryan Jensen

Brady led the NFL with 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns last season at age 44. He had decided to leave the NFL while still at the top of his game.

That’s what felt odd to Christensen, that the most detailed quarterback in league history had not taken any time to step away from the game before making such a monumental decision to end his career after 22 seasons.

“That’s what’s so surprising about him, that it happened so quickly,” Christensen said. “That’s not what they usually do. They know they’re tired, they’re physically beat up. They usually get away and wait for a month or two and then decide. It was a little bit out of character for him.”

Tom Brady drops back for a pass as quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, on left, watches during training camp last August.
Tom Brady drops back for a pass as quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, on left, watches during training camp last August. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]

The timing, however, of Brady’s return wasn’t coincidental. He announced his return on the eve of the free-agent negotiating period. Brady knew his decision would have a positive impact on retaining players.

A few hours after Brady elected to return, center Ryan Jensen signed a three-year, $39 million contract. The Bucs also have retained cornerback Carlton Davis and guard Aaron Stinnie.

“I do think probably with coming back so quick was him trying to beat free agency so you can assemble a team around him,” Christensen said. “So you had a chance.”

Christensen says he has no doubt how Brady will perform in 2022. But it’s not the same team.

On Tuesday, the Bucs added a third wide receiver, agreeing to terms with Russell Gage, who played for the division rival Falcons.

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Stay updated on the Buccaneers

Subscribe to our free Bucs RedZone newsletter

We’ll deliver a roundup of news and commentary on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options
Related: Can Tom Brady shine in his NFL re-boot? Heck yes, history says

“I think he will play really, really well again and a of it will depend on who is in the surrounding cast,” Christensen said of Brady. “There’s still a lot of holes. You’ve got to fill those darn holes. We’ve got to find a receiver or two. We weren’t the same when (Chris Godwin) and (Antonio Brown) went down (with injuries). I think a lot will depend on who is the surrounding cast and what changes are made. Everyone knows we’ve got to run the ball better.

“We’ve got to fix some stuff offensively. We’ve got to fix the run game. That’s No. 1. It’s all the above. Calling more runs, emphasizing more runs, getting some linemen, getting a back.”

But Brady has a plan. He’s ready to roll.

“He has a great vision of where he sees this thing going,” Christensen said.

• • •

Sign up for the Bucs RedZone newsletter to get updates and analysis on the latest team and NFL news from Bucs beat writer Joey Knight.

Never miss out on the latest with the Bucs, Rays, Lightning, Florida college sports and more. Follow our Tampa Bay Times sports team on Twitter and Facebook.

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge