Another tale of the coordinator and his quarterback. New Buccaneer Tom Brady may not have spent any significant time with the first new coaches he's had in over two decades, but that won't prevent either party from a very collaborative approach to the Bucs' 2020 offense.
"My philosophy, and what I believe [Bruce Arians'] philosophy is also, is that every quarterback I've ever been around has a role in the offense," Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich said Tuesday via Zoom conference. "I don't just call plays, I don't just come up with plays, I come up with plays always with the quarterback in mind. There will be some things that are different here and there. Obviously, you want to know everything that Tom knows. When you have a guy like this leading your team as the quarterback, you want to put him in the best position possible all the time."
A puzzle piece like the six-time champion isn't hard to position, either. Brady's experience in some ways minimizes the effects of this currently unorthodox offseason due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Brady may not be able to work as closely with his coaches as he would otherwise, but that is precisely why having a guy like Brady is so important. He's essentially another coach on the field. In fact, Brady has already taken matters into his own hands in getting acclimated to his new team by hosting workouts at a local high school with some of his teammates, presumably learning as much as he is teaching all in the spirit of collaboration.
"That's what you get when you bring Tom Brady in," Leftwich said. "He's about excellence. He's trying to do everything possible to make sure we're as successful as possible. We, as coaches, are doing the same thing and it's great to have a guy like that to come in and lead the guys and get as much participation as he's got from the guys. It's just a sign of where our team is at, the maturity of our team."
Brady has established players around him in guys like seven-year veterans wide receiver Mike Evans and center Ryan Jensen, fourth-year receiver Chris Godwin and of course, his old pal Rob Gronkowski, who will be entering his 11th year in the league as one of the best tight ends to ever play the game. These guys have been around the block enough to recognize the opportunity in front of them, the air of which has permeated to everyone from rookies to coaches. It gives them a connection that goes beyond the fundamentals on the field.
Speaking of connections, Leftwich is just a few years removed from the league, himself. He played against Brady as a quarterback in the not-too-distant past and was drafted just a couple years after Brady, in fact. Both his game and football mentality were cultivated in the same era as Brady, which has created a unique dynamic and understanding between the coordinator and his quarterback.
"We're pretty close in age," Leftwich laughs. "We're from the old school version of football. Me and him, we talk about the old days when you'd do seven, eight, nine days of two-a-days in a row. We're from that era of football in this league. We can talk old school football and things that happened in '08, '09. Things that are still relevant in this league.
"The history that he understands and the history that I understand – the ability for us to be able to talk top-level football, high-level football, we're never really on football 101 when you have Tom. You have a guy that's been there, seen it all. Just the conversations me and him have, it's exciting, it's going to be exciting to work with him and try to put him in position to play as good of football as possible."
As far as how much say Brady will have, specifically, Leftwich insists on more collaboration there, too. Though, that's nothing new. Arians' system, which Leftwich has operated under for the majority of his coaching career, is based on a weekly back and forth between the quarterback and his coaches when crafting the game plan. After all, as Arians has said numerous times before, why would he call a play that his signal caller doesn't like? The chances of his quarterback successfully executing plays are much greater when he likes them. As such, Brady will have as much say in the system as most every other quarterback that has played under both Leftwich and Arians.
"There will be a lot of collaboration, but it's like that every year," said Leftwich. "Since I've been a coach, I've always done that with the quarterback. You always want the quarterback to be as comfortable as possible. There's enough football plays in our system to really do what we need to do to get everything done. We'll collaborate with Tom all the time."
View pictures of QB Tom Brady in the new Buccaneers uniforms.