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NFL Rumors: 'Friction' Between Bucs' Tom Brady, Bruce Arians in 2021 'Exaggerated'

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 16, 2023

TAMPA, FL - AUG 02: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) talks with Senior Advisor to the General Manager Bruce Arians during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp on August 02, 2022 at the AdventHealth Training Center at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While there was "friction" between Tom Brady and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, it was reportedly "exaggerated" in reports.

Jenna Laine of ESPN reported Brady's short retirement last February was unrelated to Arians, and the coach's decision to retire after his quarterback announced his return was also not related to any deterioration in the relationship between the pair. Arians had reportedly been considering retirement throughout the offseason but did not want Todd Bowles, his replacement, to take over a franchise without an answer at quarterback.

When Brady decided to return after a monthlong retirement, Arians felt comfortable walking away.

The Bucs and Brady slogged through a largely frustrating 8-9 campaign but managed to win a weak NFC South, giving them home field advantage in Monday night's Wild Card matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.

Brady threw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns against nine interceptions, solid-but-unspectacular numbers that paled in comparison to his two years working with Arians. The future Hall of Famer combined for 83 touchdown passes in 2020 and 2021, returning to MVP form while being surrounded by one of the NFL's best-supporting casts.

With injuries ravaging the Buccaneers offensive line, and a shaky running game leaving Brady on an island, his performance greatly suffered. His 6.4 yards per attempt were the second-lowest of his career, and the Bucs completed only 49 passing plays of 20-plus yards. Tampa had 76 such plays last season.

It's fair to wonder how much the loss of Arians, an offensive guru, had to do with the offensive regression. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich remained with the team and was the Bucs' primary play caller over Brady's first two seasons with the franchise, but the duo worked in lockstep with Arians—a famously aggressive playcaller.

It's possible, if not likely, we would have seen a more explosive Tampa offensive with Arians still at the helm.