Bruce Arians' role with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has changed, but his willingness to share his honest opinion of Tom Brady hasn't.
Arians, who was the Bucs' head coach for Brady's first two seasons in Tampa Bay in 2020 and 2021, transitioned to a Senior Football Consultant role in 2022, with defensive coordinator Todd Bowles taking over as head coach.
Arians is still very involved with the team, however, and recently bristled at the criticism offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has received for the Bucs' struggling offense, which ranks 27th in the NFL in scoring (18.3 points per game) amid the team's 5-5 start.
If you ask Arians, Brady deserves a bigger slice of the blame pie.
"I don’t think (the criticism) was fair to Byron," Arians told Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com. "Nobody is going to say that Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad.
"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 indeed rare to find such direct criticism of Brady. You have to go back to Arians' tenure as Bucs head coach, where he often raised eyebrows with his blunt assessments of the legendary QB.
Arians isn't necessarily wrong, however. While Brady has done a good job limiting turnovers (two interceptions through 10 games), he's thrown multiple touchdown passes in just two games this season and topped 300 yards just three times. His 91.9 passer rating is more than respectable but would be his lowest in a season since joining the Bucs.
The Bucs' poor play has taken a toll on Brady, who also announced his divorce from wife Gisele Bundchen late last month. But Arians suggested Brady has emerged from his funk amid Tampa Bay's two-game winning streak.
"Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season," Arians added. "He’s going to be fine."
Arians won't make many public comments in his new behind-the-scenes role, and Brady probably prefers it that way. When Arians does speak, though, we know he won't sugar-coat anything about his seven-time champion QB.