When Tom Brady led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a nine-play, 85-yard touchdown in his first drive with the team, it would have been hard to imagine there being much controversy after the three-time NFL MVP's first game in pewter.
However, that 85-yard drive, one that culminated in Brady sneaking the ball into the endzone, proved to be the highlight of the Buccaneers' Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints. While Brady and company led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, they were outscored 34-16 the rest of the way. Brady was held under 250 passing yards, and threw two interceptions, ones that Buccaneers' head coach Bruce Arians initially acknowledged were mistakes by Brady, rather than the receivers he was targeting.
Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre said Tuesday that he thinks Arians should tread carefully in being critical of Brady publicly.
"Getting to Bruce Arians' comments, true or not, I think the last person you want to call out after the first game of the year is Tom Brady," Favre opined on The SiriusXM Blitz with Brett Favre and Bruce Murray. "Now, maybe they had a mutual truce going into the game, going into the season, 'Hey, I'm going to be hard on you. I want the guys to know we're going to treat you the same even though technically I'm not, so are you OK with it?' If they have that truce, great. If not, I think you are barking up the wrong tree."
Favre's suggestion that Brady may have been aware that Arians would be critical of him publicly at some point early in the 2020 season is an interesting one. Throughout his career, Arians has coached Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck, among other accomplished quarterbacks. This isn't his first rodeo, so it seems very plausible that he and Brady had some level of coordination on this. Why? If Arians is able to criticize Brady publicly, it leaves him nearly universal power to criticize other players being closed doors. If Brady takes that criticism, it perhaps gives him more leeway to be hard on his new teammates as well.
“One was a miscommunication between he and Mike [Evans],” Arians said after the loss. “He thought Mike was going down the middle. It’s a different coverage. Mike read it right. He should’ve bent across his face, but Tom just overthrew it. The other one was a screen pass with an outlet called. He threw the outlet, and there was a pick six. Bad decision.”
A day after the game, Arians acknowledged that the first interception actually wasn't Brady's fault, but remained pretty harsh in his assessment of the second interception, which was returned for a touchdown by Saints' cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
It's an interesting dynamic that's at play here. During his 20 seasons in New England, Bill Belichick was notoriously hard on Brady behind the scenes, even as he became the most accomplished quarterback in the history of the sport. Some thought that Brady may have become exhausted with such treatment in his final years in New England, perhaps contributing to his exit this past offseason. That said, Belichick never made such critiques to the media, as Arians has.
The Buccaneers will play their first home game in the Brady era this weekend, as they welcome the Carolina Panthers to Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers next four opponents - the Panthers, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and Chicago Bears - all present relatively winnable matchups. Favre went on to suggest he wouldn't be surprised if the Buccaneers rattled off a month's worth of wins following this Week 1 loss. If that ultimately happens, we'll probably look back at this story and laugh.