Many wondered how a future Hall of Fame quarterback would mesh with an offensive coordinator that was once a quarterback himself. Many theorized the relationship would not come to fruition because the mentalities were just not one in the same.
For Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, none of that never mattered. None of it never really pertained to them. Bad playcall in the red zone? Who care. Bad decision to go deep on third and short? Pffft, they’d do it again.
And they have.
All the decisions, all the offensive playcalls have helped the Bucs execute offensively and propel them into the Super Bowl. No matter what those outside the walls of the AdventHealth Training Center think, the two have a player-coach chemistry stemming from their success on the field and in their personal relationship.
“It’s exciting, really, to work with the guy that they call the best to ever play his position,” Leftwich said of Brady. “Obviously he’s very aware, he’s a smart football player, he’s been in every situation I get an opportunity to work with him after he’s already done 20 years of this, right? So it’s been kind of fun to just learn from him, him to learn from me – what’s been the most amazing thing about this whole thing is his approach of it. He came in and he’s told me from day one, ‘Just coach me, let me know what you want.’ Obviously we work together from a game plan standpoint, but he’s really a guy that, ‘I’m going to go out and execute this play – regardless of what you call – at a high level. Let’s just try to play our best football [and] execute at a high level.’”
And they have. Leftwich has called plays that has defied the detractors opinions of Brady’s arm not being what it once was. But deep shot after deep shot has shown the confidence the Tampa Bay’s second-year offensive coordinator has in the team’s signal caller.
However, they didn’t get to this point overnight. We’ve seen the struggle at times throughout the 2020 regular season which they continued to work and play through. Yet they pushed forward because they knew what they had in each other and what it was going to take to reach the level of success they wanted to reach despite a pandemic that limited their offseason preparation.
“Yeah, I think Byron has done an incredible job. He’s a great guy. We have a great relationship,” Brady said of Leftwich. “I’ve known him for a long time – we’re about the same age. I played against him. Always had a lot of respect for him. Now that we’re working together, it’s been great.He’s got a great work ethic, a great football I.Q. It’s just been a growing process for both of us, growing together. When you work together for a long period of time, you begin to see the game very similar. When he’s watching film he thinks, ‘Oh, this is what Tom would like’ and vice versa. It’s taken some time to get there because we didn’t have a lot of the things that we normally have with football [this offseason]. Over the last couple of months, we’ve certainly executed a little bit better.”
They’ll certainly have to execute better this weekend, too. The Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl Champions, gave them a taste of what they can do to you during the regular season if you don’t execute offensively and continue to give them chances. Brady knows that the lack of execution can’t happen this weekend and will try what he can to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in their home stadium Sunday night.
“We’ve just got to go finish the deal. It’s been a great year thus far. I’ve learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about my teammates. But we’ve got a chance now to go accomplish the ultimate goal and we’re four quarters away. It’s going to take a great effort. We’re playing a great team – another team that I think has a lot of those things and they’re doing it the right way and it’s going to be a great challenge.”