Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians has been referred to by some radio shock jocks as a “genius”, and called a “quarterback whisperer”. This, even though Arians took his old system and, with little adjustment, subjected Bucs star quarterback Jameis Winston to just one year in it, before opting to back bringing New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady in to replace him as the starter.
And causing Winston to observe a positive, leading to this Boston.com headline: “Jameis Winston on being replaced by Tom Brady: ‘I guess that’s kudos to me’”. Actually, it’s not only that, but a terrible mistake by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, it’s Tom Brady’s turn in Arians Offense. That anyone should expect automatic success from the New England Patriots legend in this wildly different system is insane. The 2019 NFL Season shows why.
During that 2019 NFL Season, the young Winston put up pinball numbers that are no surprise considering Arians deep-passing game philosophy. But Arians Offense has poorly designed blocking schemes and out-of-sync quarterback pass drops with respect to them, and to the passing patterns, forming for Winston the perfect storm of touchdowns and interception throws.
As we have come to expect with an anti-intellectual football fan-base, prodded by a sports media that has zero interest in football strategy, and not afraid to add institutional racism, and we have what we saw: the Bucs blaming Winston for Arians terrible offensive schemes. Now, the Bucs organization, and the mainstream media, is under the completely baseless, and frankly stupid, impression that Tom Brady will walk in, sprinkle his magic Vince Lombardi Trophy MVP Pixy Dust, and Shazam!, the Bucs will be the 2021 Super Bowl Champion!
All that, with this criticism of Arians’ Offense active:
I can state my opinions, as I often have, about how Arians’ offense is very predictable and unbalanced. Or about how I feel that he doesn’t maximize his players’ strengths. Or about how he doesn’t make adjustments. Or about how stubborn he is about certain plays such as the empty backfield set.
And that was from 2010, yet easily applies today. Bruce Arians’ Offense has gone through little change, while the NFL itself has changed, and in some cases dramatically, since 2010, when he was the Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Coordinator.
It’s this unpredictability that led to a number of Winston’s interceptions, as defensive backs were coached to sit back a certain distance, anticipating the pattern break by the receiver, and zooming in to pick off the throw. And if it’s not that, then consider how his offense gets his signal caller hit, a lot. Take this observation:
Yes, Winston holds the ball and will take several sacks, but Arians insistence on using the empty backfield set and becoming pass happy is increasing the number of times that Winston gets hit and sacked.
Agree with that? Well, then you’re proving my point. That quote was really applied to the Steelers Ben Rothlisberger in 2010, all I did was take his name out, and put Winston’s name in. This is the original quote:
Yes, Roethlisberger holds the ball and will take several sacks, but Arians insistence on using the empty backfield set and becoming pass happy is increasing the number of times that Roethlisberger gets hit and sacked.
The Reality Of NFL Athlete Change And Why Arians Offense Doesn’t Work Anymore
The NFL Athlete has become stronger and faster, with defensive backs and linebackers now equal in speed to wide receivers, and just over the last 10 years. In 2010, drafting a defensive end who could run a 4-4 40-yard dash was never considered because such talent wasn’t out there in the big college football programs.
In 2019 Montez Sweat barely breaks one running a 4.4 40-yard dash, and Devin White was every bit his equal at linebacker. And here comes Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons to the 2020 NFL Draft posting a 4.39 40-time. While NFL players have evolved, the NFL Offense that Arians developed and radio and TV announcers, themselves representing old media technology, consider “modern” has been used without significant change.
The Arians offense uses the same offensive line splits, wide receiver splits, and offensive line blocking approaches in 2019 that he used with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2007 to 2011. So, while defenders have gained speed, his offense has not adjusted to offer a counter to what they can do. Arians offensive linemen are expected to give the quarterback 3 to 4 second to throw, even though the average pass play lasts about 2 or 3 seconds tops.
Or as Duke Dave Cutcliffe says “2.8 seconds”, or “You stand in that pocket and it’s all moving fast,” Cutcliffe said. “In your mind you’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to take care of the ball but we’re behind and I’m trying to make a play.’ All of this is going through your head and in 2.8 seconds you’re sacked. I have to do a better job of programming that 2.8 seconds for him, make it easier for him.”
That’s something Arians did not do for Jameis Winston, and, absent a wholesale change in philosophy, he’s certainly not going to do for Tom Brady.
In Bruce Arians’ Offense, Tom Brady Is Something Jameis Winston Wasn’t: A Sitting Duck
Lost in all of the hoopla over Tom Brady’s free agent move to Tampa Bay, are a few facts that point to future failure. (And do I care what Brady thinks of Rob Gronkowski’s wanger? No. https://nypost.com/2020/04/08/tom-brady-says-rob-gronkowskis-penis-is-what-youd-expect/)
First, Tom Brady is a sitting duck in the pocket, especially compared to Jameis Winston. In 2019, Winston, while no Lamar Jackson, did manage to run for 250 yards, or 15.6 yards a game. That means when he ran, Winston was able to move the sticks at least once each game.
Tom Brady? Running? Forget it. In 2019, TB-12 managed a giant total of just 34 yards. But, in the New England Offense, Tom didn’t have to run: he threw a lot of short passes. Looking at last year, his average yards per pass was just 6.6 yards – Jameis Winston clocked in at 8.2 yards.
Moreover, while Tom Brady has poor running numbers, he was more likely to run over the first 10 years of his career than the last 8 years. Point is, Tom’s not going to have the luxury of throwing a ton of short passes in Bruce Arians’ Offense, unless Coach Arians realizes his offense was terribly designed and makes a major overhaul to it, design wise.
If Arians does that, he should send Jameis Winston a $30 million check for putting him in a system so crappy, Arians changed it for Tom Brady.
Jameis Winston Deserves A Home With A Team That Practices Timed, Ball Control Passing
Bruce Arians system is just plain sloppy in design and coaching. Precision passing is not done at the standards level set by the late Bill Walsh. Throws and catches that are just off-the-mark, but complete, are acceptable in Arians world. Arians let Winston enter games without working on his tendency to wind-up his arm as he throws, rather than release from just behind his ear. Just that change, alone, would produce passes that get to the receiver faster than the defender, more often.
Arians clearly isn’t the quarterback whisperer he allows himself to be called. A real quarterback whisperer whispers into his signal caller’s ear how to improve his throws. Arians would rather find another quarterback than make Winston better. He think’s he’s done it in landing Tom Brady, but Arians is clearly making a bet that he can be a lazy coach with Tom in a way that he could not with Jameis, and still win.
The feeling here is the Bucs will be lucky to see an 8-win season with Brady at the helm. Tom will do his classic “Let’s GO!” yelling, the laid-back Bucs will pump their fists, but as the losses mount up, his approach will sadly become a circus act to a team that doesn’t have an overall approach that fits with what he did in New England.
Arians had a better quarterback in Jameis Winston than Tom Brady, and he’s going to discover that next season, the hard way.