In comments immediately following a 34-23 loss Sunday to the New Orleans Saints in which Brady threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, Arians told the media that the six-time Super Bowl winner was responsible for both miscues.
The coach said Brady “overthrew” wide receiver Mike Evans on the first pick and absolved Evans of any blame for his read of the defensive coverage. Regarding the pick-six — the kind of disastrous play the Bucs thought they were going to minimize by replacing error-prone quarterback Jameis Winston — Arians said Brady made a “bad decision.”
In more than two decades as Brady’s coach, Belichick rarely put his QB on blast, instead typically muttering nonanswers about having to watch the game film before making assessments. “I’m not going to get into that,” was another pet phrase for Belichick.
But Brady’s new coach was a bit more loquacious and forthcoming. Given a night to reflect on what else he might want to say about Brady, the 67-year-old Arians told reporters Monday: “He knew he didn’t play very well. It’s not what he expects from himself nor do we expect.
“I would expect him to have a little more grit, a little more determination this week.”
You read that correctly. In the span of two days, Arians hasn’t just questioned Brady’s accuracy and decision-making, but also his “grit” and “determination.” Of course, Brady, 43, has been able to continue playing at this advanced age by famously adhering to an ascetic regimen of diet, exercise and training.
For his part, Brady shouldered blame for the loss, telling the media Sunday: “I made some bad, terrible turnovers, and it’s hard to win turning the ball over like that. Obviously, I’ve got to do a much better job.
“They were bad throws. That’s what it comes down to. Bad throws. Can’t do it.”
Brady neglected to mention a need to increase his level of grit, but he did claim that the Saints “kind of played how they always play” and his Bucs failed to “do something about it.”
Arians echoed some of that analysis Monday, as he declared: “Everything they did we thought we were ready for. Some wide receivers have to do a better job of winning one-on-one when [Brady] decides to go their way.”
However, Arians still reserved some criticism for his quarterback, adding, “He looked like Tom Brady in practice all the time, so it’s kind of unusual to see that in a ballgame because [the Saints] didn’t do things that we didn’t get ready for.”
At another point, Arians walked back some of his blame of Brady for the Evans miscue, saying that upon further review of the coverage on that play, “Mike should’ve split and gone down the middle and never stopped.” However, he also provided more analysis of the pick-six that was unflattering to Brady.
“If you’re throwing an out-route, you don’t throw it low and inside,” Arians said. “And that hadn’t been the case up until that one. [Brady] was a little late on it and probably better decision to go somewhere else with the ball.”
In a lengthy essay Brady wrote this spring for the Players’ Tribune, the veteran said he sought positivity in his move to Tampa.
“I want to hear other people say, ‘Go, man. Now that’s what we’ve been missing. That’s what we need! That’s what we’ve been looking for!’ ” Brady wrote. In 2,633 words he barely mentioned Belichick.
Arians has long been viewed as a player-friendly coach but also as a blunt talker. Brady likely wasn’t expecting a steady stream of sweet nothings when he decided in March to join Tampa Bay, and in response to an Arians quote in August that Brady was getting “cussed out like everyone else,” the quarterback said with a laugh on social media, “I’m used to it!”
It’s likely nothing that winning a few games can’t fix, and Sunday’s visit to New Orleans may go down as the Bucs’ toughest test of the season. Up ahead is a much easier-looking home date with the Carolina Panthers, and Brady can be expected to develop a better rapport with his receivers over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, up in New England, Belichick has been unusually effusive in his praise of Cam Newton, Brady’s replacement.
“He’s got a great personality. He gets along with everybody,” Belichick said of Newton before the season. “He’s very social and has a great presence, whether it is in a small room of a couple people or in a bigger group. … He’s very, very competitive on the field. He always wants to do his best and do better than the guy he’s competing against. Everybody’s competitive, but I think there are different degrees of it, and it looks like, based on what I’ve seen, I would put him in the top echelon of that. … Cam is the type of player that works on things that he’s not as good at and really tries to improve on a daily basis, and that’s something that I really respect about him.”
After Newton led the Patriots to a 21-11 home win Sunday over the Miami Dolphins, Belichick was positively gushing.
“Cam’s been great for us. He’s a very, very unselfish player,” the coach said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s earned everybody’s respect daily.
“He just continues to do everything that he can to help our team, and that’s really all you can ask from anyone. He continually does that. He puts himself last and the team first. He’s done a tremendous job there.”