A lot has been said about what quarterback Tom Brady now brings to the Buccaneers. Things like twenty years of NFL experience at the highest of levels, how to win and subsequently, what it takes to win, as well as a national spotlight.
But what about what the Bucs give to Brady?
In a now highly publicized story, General Manager Jason Licht said on the over 90-minute phone call between him, Head Coach Bruce Arians and Brady the opening Wednesday of free agency, Brady pitched them. Brady spent the time convincing Licht and Arians why he would be a good fit for the Bucs and talked about how he wanted to come to Tampa Bay.
"I'm trying to do things that have never been done in my sport," Brady wrote in a Players' Tribune feature. "That's actually fun for me, too, because I know I can do them. When a team gives you the opportunity to do those things with them, well … if not with them, then who?"
In the third and final part of this series, we'll take a look at what Brady is getting out of this deal. The experience he brings will be matched with some of the most experienced coaches and resources Brady could have gotten, complete with some familiar faces even. And it starts with Arians himself, who is otherwise known as 'The Quarterback Whisperer.'
Not that Brady needs 'whispering.' He comes to the Buccaneers with a whole lot of hardware, including four Super Bowl and three league MVP awards along with his plethora of championships. But Arians has a thing with quarterbacks – veteran ones, at that. Maybe it's because he was one himself back in his Hokie days at Virginia Tech; maybe it's because he's coached some of the league's best, but BA has a different approach to the position and it's one that Brady wanted to be a part of.
"I think that's one thing that drew us both together is I've always collaborated with my quarterbacks, whether it be putting a playbook together with Ben [Roethlisberger] [or] starting with Andrew [Luck] from scratch," Arians said. "[It's about] just finding out the likes and dislikes of a quarterback. Sooner or later, we will be working together on game plans and things like that – playbooks are huge in the spring [and] playbooks are huge in training camp. Then you start taking things out of it for game plans and working together on a team. That's the most fun and I look forward to doing that with him."
In that same Players' Tribune letter saying goodbye to New England and Hello to Tampa, Brady said he wanted to see how great he could be. He wanted to do things never done before in this sport. A 43-year-old quarterback taking the home team to the Super Bowl would certainly be that. But on a granular level, the day-to-day will be something unique for Brady, too. He will play a significant part of shaping the offense from the ground up. And history shows – this approach works.
Arians' coaching resume now includes two of the league's top three all-time passing leaders. The biggest feather in Arians' New Era cap was Peyton Manning prior to the G.O.A.T.'s arrival. Manning was a rookie in 1998, the year Arians was hired as the Indianapolis Colts' quarterbacks coach. By the third season under Arians, Manning was the league's passing king, finishing with an NFL-best 4,413 yards in 1999 (and a league-leading 33 touchdowns). It was his second 4,000+ yard season and his second Pro Bowl nod. Arians helped provide the foundation for a Hall of Fame career before departing the Colts for what ended up being just a few years.
He'd return in 2012. This time as Indy's offensive coordinator. And he'd jump start another career of one of the league's best: Andrew Luck. His rookie year, Luck passed for 4,374 yards with 23 touchdowns and earned himself a spot in that year's Pro Bowl.
Between the two Colts QBs, Arians also mentored Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, starting first as the teams' wide receivers coach before being promoted to Roethlisberger's offensive coordinator from 2007-2011. Arians would not only help Roethlisberger to some of his best years as a quarterback, but also to a Super Bowl championship. See, Arians, like Brady, also knows what it's like to win.
And like Brady is doing in Tampa currently, Arians himself took on a new challenge. Where he'd tutored young quarterbacks in Manning, Roethlisberger and Luck – after being named the Cardinals' head coach in 2013, he was now getting Carson Palmer in Arizona, an 'aging' quarterback deemed on his way out after two disappointing seasons in Oakland for the Raiders.
Instead, Arians turned the 'twilight' of Palmer's career into the highlight of it. Palmer set new career highs in passing yards, touchdowns and perhaps, most importantly, wins, while under Arians as head coach. He made the Pro Bowl for the first time since age 27 at age 36 in 2015. The Cardinals went 13-3 that year, while Palmer passed for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns.
Alongside Arians for two of those stints was Tom Moore, a current offensive consultant for the Buccaneers, who has shaped some of the most prolific offenses in the NFL. Moore and Arians worked together in Indianapolis and Moore would win Super Bowl XLI as the Colts' offensive coordinator while under Head Coach Tony Dungy. Manning spanned Moore's tenure with the Colts as his quarterback and with Moore's help, set numerous league records.
Moore also helped turn the Detroit Lions into an offensive powerhouse in the mid-1990s. The 1995 team was the first to have two 100-yard receivers and led the league in total offense that year.
That team and the 1999 Colts are still the only two offenses to ever feature a 4,000-yard passer, 1,500-yard receiver and a 1,500-yard rusher.
Moore has even been credited with popularizing the 11-personnel set (one running back, one tight end and three wideouts), according to a Pro Football Focus article.
"This offense is designed to produce over 5,000 yards in total offense each season," said Moore in the article. "Every year, we expect a 4,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers."
Brady has tallied 11 4,000-yard seasons in his career, with three in the last three years. With guys like Arians and Moore, that shouldn't change with the Bucs.
"Tom Moore has the best saying in the world, 'You never go broke putting money in the bank. Take the damn check-down,'" Arians recalled about his long-time friend and colleague. "I don't think you have to teach Tom [Brady] that. I think the freedom of looking downfield on certain routes and in certain situations when the matchup is perfect – take it. Don't be afraid to take it."
Arians is fiercely loyal to his staff. So much so, that there is another coach that will work closely with Brady in Tampa that was also around for those Colts years: Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen.
Christiansen initially served as Indy's wide receivers coach before then eventually being promoted to offensive coordinator and Luck's quarterback coach. Where Arians helped lay the foundation for Luck, Christiansen helped his career take off. Before coming to the Buccaneers, Christensen was the Director of Football/Player Development for the Dolphins, gaining a different perspective in the process.
Another unique resource for Brady? Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich. Though Leftwich's coaching resume is relatively short, his league experience is not. Part of that league experience included playing AGAINST Brady. In the AFC, no less.
Hey, Brady said he wanted to do things never done in the sport before, right?
The pair make the only quarterback/offensive coordinator tandem that have actually gone against each other as opposing quarterbacks in the league. That means there will be someone there to tell Brady exactly how teams gameplan against him from a player point of view, in addition to, you know, various coaches and staff members that have been doing that for years.
That'll be new.
As for those familiar faces?
Bucs General Manager Jason Licht was in the room when the Patriots drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft. Licht was a scout for New England back then. Brady had come out of Michigan, where current Bucs Director of Player Personnel John Spytek was playing at the time. Spytek was a freshman defensive back during Brady's last year as a Wolverine.
This should all be enough to not only make Brady feel at home in Tampa Bay – but equipped for success. Kinda makes the whole pitching BA and Jason thing make sense.
"They've welcomed me as one of their own," Brady wrote. "They want to listen to what I have to say. I'm excited to be embraced fully for what I can bring to the Bucs. In turn I'm ready to embrace fully a team that is confident in what I do — and what I bring — and is willing to go on this ride with me."