By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Life isn’t always perfectly sunny anywhere in the world. Not even in gorgeous Tompa Bay.
Quarterback Tom Brady learned that in the past week, as he and the Buccaaneers lost their first game of the year in New Orleans. After the game, during which Brady threw two interceptions, head coach Bruce Arians blamed Brady for both miscues. Later in the week, he took back blame for one of them but nevertheless insisted the quarterback needed to show “a little more grit” and “a little more determination” going forward.
That’s not exactly flowery language directed at the 43-year-old QB. And on Thursday, the first question Brady faced was about his comfort level with the public criticism. His answer was short.
“So, what’s the question?” Brady curtly replied at the reporter who broached the subject.
The exchange then went like this:
Reporter: Just whether you were surprised at all to hear Bruce speaking publicly about the picks and being critical of you, as he was?
Brady: “Uh, you know. He’s the coach. So. You know, I’m a player. Just trying to win a game.”
And that was that.
Obviously, over the course of his 20 years in the NFL on the most scrutinized team in the league, Brady’s endured more criticism than just about anyone else during that span. And his hatred of losing is unmatched, so most of his displeasure this week likely has to do with a subpar performance in the loss to the Saints.
Still, after Brady handpicked Tampa Bay for the second life of his Hall of Fame career, this matter will make for an interesting little subplot as the Bucs navigate some slightly unsteady waters early in the 2020 season.
For what it’s worth, Brady actually opened up on his own philosophy with regard to the blame game when he was asked about the miscommunication on the pass intended for Mike Evans.
“I think that’s part of just working on things and being on the field at the same time and communicating through them,” Brady said. “It’s like anything. The longer you’re together, the less you’ll have to say certain things, because you’ve already experienced them, you’ve talked about them, worked through ’em. There’s a lot of black and white in football, and then there’s a lot of gray. And the problem is when there’s too much gray. I thought one thing, you thought another.
“Whoever is right or wrong, it doesn’t matter,” Brady continued. “The reality is bad plays happen. And when bad plays happen, you put yourself in a non-advantageous position. So we’ve gotta eliminate as much as we can — oh I thought this you thought that, oh you thought this I thought that. And then one time you’re right and one time you’re wrong. The reality is the other team can’t come away with the ball. So that’s going to keep us from scoring points, it’s going to keep us from winning games. You keep us from winning games, that’s, you know, the whole issue is we’re here to win games. That’s why we’re playing football. So we’ve gotta put ourselves in a good position on every play to figure out exactly where we’re gonna be so that we can all play with confidence. You practice them, and then I think that leads to great execution. You have confidence in one another. And once you have confidence in one another, then you can really anticipate and make good plays.”
That’s actually a rather illuminating answer with regard to how Brady really feels about the head coach assessing blame — first on Brady, then on Evans — for an interception. The quarterback — who’s won at an unmatched rate for his entire career — is less concerned with finger pointing and is more concerned with making the right play to help win a football game.
We’ll see if his coach adapts a similar mentality.
Considering the disparities in their career win-loss records … doing so might be a wise move.