It’s certainly not the standard we’ve seen over the last two seasons, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense has looked lightyears better since its game-winning drive against the Los Angeles Rams.
Sure, it’s only been four quarters and some change – some very small change, at that. But, a solid offensive performance propelling the Buccaneers to a 5-5 record as they head into the bye week is all the team and its fans could’ve asked for.
It’s been enough to make people slightly forget the abysmal on-field product we were subjected to over the first 8-7/8th games of the season. Based off what we saw against the Seattle Seahawks, the Buccaneers can become a top-12 or even top-10 offense if they can hone in and effectively expand upon what worked.
That’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to moving forward in 2022.
But Bruce Arians’ latest comments are enough to rekindle the weekly frustration and finger-pointing that dominated the conversation before the Week 10 win.
Arians recently spoke with JoeBucsFan.com‘s Ira Kaufman, who is one of the longest-tenured and most established Buccaneers writers in the business, and re-opened the can of worms that is figuring out the bulk of the Buccaneers’ offensive problems.
“I don’t think it was fair to Byron [Leftwich],” Arians said in reference to people finding a scapegoat for the Bucs’ offensive issues. “Nobody is going to say that Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad. We also had growing pains on a young offensive front and we weren’t running well. There comes a time as a play-caller when you’re losing yards running the ball and you say, ‘Forget this, I’m putting the ball in Tom’s hands.’”
It’s unclear as to what the original question was, but Arians’ criticism of Brady is pretty unwarranted in this situation. Yes, Brady’s play was off and it wasn’t what we have seen from him over the course of his career. And sure, one can certainly argue he was playing poorly at certain points. Or even bad, as Arians stated.
But at this point, and Arians should know this as a successful and former head coach, it’s all about looking forward. The Buccaneers are still in the playoff hunt and they looked much-improved against the ‘Hawks.
The Buccaneers are also in the truest “moving forward” part of their season, as they are currently on their bye week.
And Arians’ criticism is a distraction.
Typically, the easy -and accurate- counterargument to this complaint is that NFL players don’t get distracted by stuff like this. But we’ve seen this Buccaneers team get down and out and distracted a lot this year. One doesn’t have to go too far back to find and subsequently use Mike Evans’ postgame comment about his awful drop on the third play of the Carolina Panthers matchup as an example.
You know, the one where Evans said he saw “the light go out for us” and that it took him “a while to get back to playing”.
And it adds a whole new -and heavy- layer when we add in the fact that Arians works for the Buccaneers. This isn’t some talking head saying this stuff for clicks and attention.
This is a Buccaneers employee. One that is heavily involved with the team at the highest level, as Arians is the senior adviser to general manager Jason Licht.
It’s not hard to connect the dots on why Arians’ decision wasn’t the best.
There’s little doubt Arians’ gruff approach and fiery attitude is missed. The rest of the Buccaneers coaching staff, as a whole, takes a mild approach to team issues and won’t get as personal as Arians did in press conferences or interviews. There have been plenty of instances this year where the Buccaneers looked like they were missing that fire on the field and it’s fair to wonder if Arians’ absence (since Week 2, at least) has contributed to that.
Arians was defending his guy, Leftwich, which he’s done many times before. He’s been staunch in his support of Leftwich, so it’s easy to see why Arians took the angle he did.
At the same time, he gassed up a fruitless talking point that doesn’t mean anything while the team is trying to move forward.
Arians could’ve easily avoided the Brady statement. The Buccaneers don’t need that kind of fire, right now. There has been a multitude of offensive issues and they have come from the top-down. Literally, from Leftwich to Brady to the offensive line to the running backs to the receivers and everywhere in-between.
From here on out, it’s all about the Buccaneers working to identify and improve their issues during the bye week. You know, like Arians and co. did in 2020 when the team was floundering heading into the bye week.
The last thing they need is a team employee -and a well-known one at that- making divisive comments and pointing fingers at past issues.
Featured image via Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports