Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms thinks he knows what's ailing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The NBC Sports analyst recently said he's viewed the game tape -- and is laying the blame for the Bucs' rollercoaster season squarely at the feet of legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Simms, one of Brady's predecessors as Tampa Bay's signal-caller, weighed in on the team's apparent fissures -- seemingly fueled by a disagreement between Brady and head coach Bruce Arians over the direction of the team's offense -- on his podcast, Unbuttoned.
Analyzing the Bucs' offensive tendencies as well as some of their roster moves, Simms suggested most of the team's issues can be traced back to questionable decision-making by Brady.
Specifically, Simms believes Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich are more resolute in their commitment to the run game, whereas Brady wants to air it out more often.
This manifests itself in the offense frequently deploying the shotgun formation, in which the unit has proven less effective, according to Simms. This would seem to comport with Arians' claim that Brady in fact calls the team's plays, according to the blog Joe Bucs Fan.
Instead, the offense has looked most efficient in a two-tight end set, which allows for the threat of the run and the play-action pass, according to the 40-year-old former Bucs, Broncos and Titans QB.
“To me, that’s when they are at their best,” Simms said.
And it's not just play-calling where Brady's influence is felt, he added.
The signing of Antonio Brown -- something Arians had previously publicly resisted -- was a clear sign that Brady was attempting to steer the offense toward the spread and more shotgun.
All of which points toward discord within the team, Simms said.
“I think Leftwich and Arians are going, ‘No, that’s not what we want to do. We want to kind of run it and protect you, and take some shots and hope you hang in there and do it.'”
Tampa Bay got off to a relatively smooth 5-2 start to start the Tom Brady era, their only losses coming to the Saints in the season opener and a somewhat flukey one-point loss to the Bears on Thursday Night Football in Week 5.
But things have soured since then, with the Bucs barely beating the Giants on Monday Night Football, getting blown out by the Saints, and losing to the Rams and Chiefs by six points combined.