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'Different' Tom Brady? Rams LB Bobby Wagner Weighs In

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner revealed his thoughts on whether Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is different from who he's been the previous 22 seasons.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady has accomplished just about all there is to do in the NFL.

There are few secrets surrounding Brady's skill set, as his 23-year career has largely been the model of consistency while carving up defenses en route to three MVPs and seven Super Bowl titles.

However, the former New England Patriot has found his age 45 season to be a difficult one, both on and off the field. As he battles through a divorce with his wife Gisele Bundchen, Brady's Bucs have just a 3-5 record and have lost five of their last six games.

Individually, Brady ranks second in the league in passing yards with over 2,200 but sits in the bottom half of the league in touchdowns (nine) and quarterback rating (49.1). On a team level, this is the first time Brady's been two games under .500 at any point in his 326-game career.

From missing an extended period of time in training camp to attending Patriots owner Robert Kraft's wedding just two days before a game, it's been a bizarre, headline-filled year for Brady.

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner has noticed a difference in Tampa Bay's offense, but not necessarily with Brady. The eight-time All-Pro went into further detail ahead of Sunday's matchup at Raymond-James Stadium.

“I think the biggest difference is there's been some key drops in key moments," Wagner said. "I think the run game is a little bit … they kind of moved away from the run game, so it's not as much. So, I think all of that plays part in how he's playing because I think you have to play complementary football from a running standpoint."

As quarterbacks age, arm strength is usually one of the traits that deteriorate more than some others. Brady faced doubts surrounding his ability to push the ball downfield during his final season in New England (2019), but three years later, he's still slinging it, according to Sunday's quarterback counterpart.

“I still think he throws it great," Rams' signal caller Matthew Stafford claimed. "Obviously, he’s an elite competitor. Sometimes that's hard to see at the quarterback position, but I think it comes alive in him. It's pretty easy to see when he plays."

The last meeting between the Rams and Buccaneers was last January in the NFC Divisional Round when Los Angeles knocked off Tampa Bay 30-27 and temporarily sent Brady into retirement.

Nearly 10 months on, the narrative surrounding Brady and his team is different, but Wagner still sees many of the same characteristics that made the 15-time Pro Bowler who he is.

"I think the key to the greatness is the consistency, how long he's done it over a course of 20 years or however long he's been playing. That's the thing that stood out to me when I first played him and that's the thing that stands out when I watch him now.”

And thus, the answer is in - at least from Wagner and the Rams: Brady's not necessarily different, but the team surrounding him certainly is. Nonetheless, the challenge remains the same, as Wagner hailed Brady's ability to use his eyes and manipulate defenders, a trait that ages like fine wine.

So, while the Rams won't be facing the exact same Buccaneers team as they did in January, the difficulty of the battle doesn't get much easier - but Los Angeles has already proven it can win in Tampa Bay and desperately needs history to repeat itself.

The Rams and Buccaneers, both looking to bounce back from losses, will kick off at 4:25 p.m. local time.

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter at @DFlickDraft

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