How did Tom Brady enjoy one of his best statistical seasons ever and lead a previously 7-9 Buccaneers team to the NFC Championship Game during his first year in Tampa Bay?
If you ask Bruce Arians, a change in head coaches may have helped.
While praising Brady's leadership Sunday after the Bucs' 30-20 win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Round, Arians offered an unsolicited observation of how Bill Belichick and the Patriots treated Brady in New England.
“Consummate leader,” Arians told NBC Sports' Peter King of Brady. "Has been all year. Got the air of confidence that permeates through our team every day.
"I allow him to be himself. Like, New England didn’t allow him to coach. I allow him to coach. I just sit back sometimes and watch."
Arians has gushed about Brady's strengths as a teacher all season, noting how the 43-year-old commands the locker room and has helped establish a winning culture in Tampa Bay.
New England Patriots
According to Arians, that's thanks in part to his hands-off approach, which differs from Belichick's intense attention to detail as he coaches up every player from Brady to the long snapper.
Arians' observation isn't entirely accurate, though: While Belichick established "The Patriot Way," Brady played a huge role in making his teammates better by holding them accountable and getting everyone on the same page. And considering Belichick and Brady won six Super Bowls together, it's hard to criticize the setup in New England.
But if Brady was looking for a fresh start with a head coach who lets him do whatever he wants, he certainly picked the right boss in Arians, whose coaching style apparently is perfect for another ex-Patriot in Rob Gronkowski.
"One of the biggest things that I would just say is ... the freedom," Gronkowski said Sunday on NFL Network when asked about the difference between Arians and Belichick. "The freedom of just being yourself with the coaches."
Next up for Brady, Gronk and the Bucs is an NFC Championship Game matchup with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.