If there's one thing we know about former Buccaneers head coach and current senior advisor Bruce Arians, it's that he doesn't mince words. When you ask Arians a question, he's going to provide a direct response no matter if it miffs someone or not.
Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich took a lot of heat from the fanbase and media during Tampa Bay's three-game losing streak earlier this season. The Buccaneers averaged 14.3 points per contest over the skid - four points below their season average. Plus, the team has the second-worst running game in the NFL, only averaging 70.7 yards per game.
During a recent interview with Ira Kaufman, Arians put some of the blame squarely on Brady's shoulders. He also noted the moving pieces on the offensive line and the struggling running attack.
“I don’t think it was fair to Byron. Nobody is going to say that Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad," Arians said. "We also had growing pains on a young offensive front and we weren’t running well. There comes a time as a play-caller when you’re losing yards running the ball and you say, ‘Forget this, I’m putting the ball in Tom’s hands.’ “
It's worth pointing out that Brady completed 62.4% of his passes, threw for 290+ yards twice, and didn't throw an interception during the losing streak. He's been plagued by an up-and-down offensive line, a poor running game, and a beaten-up group of wide receivers.
The Buccaneers have been getting healthier and it has coincided with a two-game winning streak, including a 21-16 victory on Sunday in Germany against the Seattle Seahawks. Arians believes the team is primed to continue its resurgence following a BYE week.
“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season,” Arians said. “First off, we’re getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He’s going to be fine. I love the swagger we played with Sunday, especially defensively. It’s been missing. Seattle’s a good running team, but that kid (Walker) went nowhere.”
Tampa Bay remains in first place in the NFC South after defeating the Los Angeles Rams and Seahawks in consecutive weeks. The Buccaneers travel to Cleveland after the BYE for a 1 p.m. contest that also marks the final week prior to Deshaun Watson's return to the lineup.
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