Ever since rumors started swirling about Tom Brady potentially coming to Tampa Bay to play for the Buccaneers, those opposed to the idea have gone on and on about how the six-time Super Bowl champion won’t fit Bruce Arians’ vertical offense because his arm strength is gone.
The Bucs—from management down to the coaching staff—obviously felt differently, signing Brady to a two-year deal back in March. In the several weeks since it became official, it’s been made clear that the coaches and their quarterback will be collaborating on the offense. It’s obviously still Arians’ system, but Brady will have some input.
That was recently reiterated once again by Bucs quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen. In an interview with Bob Kravitz of The Athletic, the longtime coach had this to say:
“I think what we’ll see here (in Tampa) is Bruce’s offense with a Brady influence. Bruce wants to keep the offense the same. We did some good things last year. Tom has been terrific as far as saying, ‘Just tell me what you want to do.’ And honestly, there’s a lot of carryover from all these offenses; it’s just what you call certain things. We’re looking forward to seeing how he can influence the offense. He’ll make it better. That’s what the great ones do. He’ll have some great ideas so we’re anxious to get his take on things.”
That all makes great sense, surely. Christensen then went on to disagree with the notion that Brady has lost some arm strength and is on the decline as his career winds down:
I looked at every pass he threw for the last four years. It was interesting because you had the possibility of (Drew) Brees, (Philip) Rivers, (Andy) Dalton, all those guys had a chance of becoming available, so we looked at all of them. And I’m telling you, anybody who says he’s lost arm strength, all I know is I must have missed something. Remember, they didn’t have those kinds of receivers (in New England) who could get deep. It wasn’t about anything that he couldn’t do. I thought he played last year at a high, high, high level, still light’s out. He comes here, we’ve got the two outside receivers (Chris Godwin and Mike Evans), you think back to what Peyton had in Denver and he goes out there and sets the NFL record for touchdown passes and reaches two Super Bowls, wins one. I think that’s very attractive to Tom. Peyton had fun at his second stop. He was able to turn that place around. I think Tom’s excited about what he can do with those two cats (Godwin and Evans).
It’s interesting to see Christensen draw a parallel between Brady’s arrival in Tampa to Peyton Manning’s years with the Denver Broncos. Of course, the veteran coach had a chance to work with Manning in Indianapolis (as well as Andrew Luck later on). So, he’s been around some greats before. But getting his perspective on how Brady will fit—and influence—the Bucs’ offense is interesting. There are obviously high expectations, too, as he explicitly mentioned the touchdown record, Super Bowl appearance and Super Bowl victory that Manning racked up when he went to Denver.
Of course, we knew that Brady would have some input on Arians’ offense, but not just because he’s Tom Brady. Arians has always preached about the importance of collaboration with his quarterback. He talked extensively about it in his book, The Quarterback Whisperer: How to Build an Elite NFL Quarterback. He explains his game planning process, saying the quarterback picks his favorite plays, which are then included in the game’s script. He’s done this with some legends over the years, including Manning, Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer. Now, he’ll get to add Brady to that list.
The full interview with Christensen on The Athletic (subscription required) is worth your time, as it has some nice little gems in it. That includes the fact that he now has to train his family to not hate Tom Brady after the two spent so many years on opposite sides of the Colts-Patriots rivalry. That’s good stuff.