Head Coach Bruce Arians is known as "The Quarterback Whisperer" because of how well he's helped develop some of the most notable men to ever play the position. He has quite the feathers adorning his Kangol cap, so to speak. He's now at the pinnacle of his career, earning a Super Bowl berth as a Head Coach, and has the greatest quarterback of all time with him.
But Arians didn't develop Bucs' quarterback Tom Brady. When Brady arrived, he had two decades of experience under his belt. He was used to a system quite different than the one Arians deploys so it wasn't so much about developing as it was transitioning. The way Brady approaches the game is second to none and Arians knew that from the start.
"I think with Tom, there's not much to tweak," said Arians. "It's just a matter of verbiage. We were talking in free agency about one guy learning a language versus 21 guys learning another language because I had been in the Erhardt system that he had come from. He was all in as far as learning this system. There's not much to tweak. He knows how to take care of himself and he's a great, great player. His preparation reminds me so much of Peyton Manning. Those two guys set the bar as far as preparation for the guys that I have coached. Ben [Roethlisberger] didn't like that stuff. He just wanted to go play and he knew what he was doing. You didn't want to overload him. Andrew Luck was the same way – he was so smart. All of these guys have a grit about them that they can will themselves on other people and make them win."
Speaking of Manning, he is about to into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot and deservedly so. Brady and Manning have always been connected, whether it's on the same lists in the NFL record books for everything they've done on the field or their close relationship off of it. In fact, Brady most recently just broke Manning's record for most passing touchdowns in the first season with a new team. The 43-year-old had 43 total touchdowns for the Buccaneers in the regular season, 40 of which were through the air, besting Manning's previous record of 37. The pair are top five in most quarterback categories that matter, including most playoff passing touchdowns, all-time passing touchdowns in both regular season and playoffs and most seasons with a playoff game. Brady leads all of those categories but had to go through Manning's records first.
And on Wednesday, Brady spoke about the soon-to-be Hall of Famer.
"Peyton was someone that I always just admired as a quarterback, as a leader of a team," said Brady. "Peyton and I are right around the same age – he's a few years older than me – but I always looked up to Peyton because he was a little bit older than me and he was always doing things the right way. His team was always in it. I know our teams had a rivalry against one another. When you went against a Peyton Manning-led team, you were going against [one of the best teams] in the league. It's no real surprise that he'd be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. An amazing player. He took so much on. Like any great quarterback, there's a lot of responsibility that you take on. Everything is a reflection of how you see the game and you want to make sure everyone is on the same page. When everyone is seeing it through the same set of eyes, it's a great way to play football. Working with the coaching staff – ultimately, you're the player on the field. There's no perfect play that can always be called for every defense and the coaches have to trust the quarterback to get it right. I think a guy like Peyton, the coaches – when I think of Coach [Tom] Moore and Coach Clyde [Christensen] that [are] here that were working with Peyton, Coach [Tony] Dungy, they had so much trust in Peyton to get things right and he always did. Then he went on to Denver and had a great career there. I've had the chance to know him for a long time – 20-plus years. Nothing surprises me about him and his accomplishments. He's a tremendous player. We always keep in touch. He's always wishing me well-wishes and so forth and I'm really happy for him."
When you see both these quarterbacks talk about each other and see how many things they've accomplished, it's pretty incredible that Arians coached both.
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