Known as a quarterback whisperer, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians likely has done plenty of shouting while working with a new quarterback for the first time.
The mere fact that the Bucs even had a spot for Tom Brady flows from the reality that Jameis Winston wasn’t good enough last year. Those 5,109 passing yards be damned, Winston had 30 interceptions and, in Arians’ estimation, failed to finish strong in December. Beyond Winston, let’s look at how other quarterbacks fared in their first seasons with Arians.
In 2013, Carson Palmer joined forces with Arians in Arizona. And Palmer threw 22 interceptions, against 24 touchdown passes.
The prior year, Arians returned to Indianapolis as the offensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano’s first season as coach. Then-rookie Andrew Luck had 23 touchdown passes and 18 picks.
In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger had during 2007 the best first year of any quarterback who has worked with Arians at the NFL level, after Arians served for three seasons as the team’s receivers coach. Roethlisberger threw for 32 touchdown passes and only 11 interceptions.
In 2001, with Tim Couch as Arians’ pupil in Cleveland for the first time, Couch threw 17 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions.
Three years earlier, then-rookie Peyton Manning had Arians as a quarterbacks coach with the Colts. Manning threw 26 touchdown passes . . . and 28 interceptions. It’s a single-season rookie record that still stands.
Those numbers reflect the literal manifestation of Arians’ “no risk-it, no biscuit” mantra, one that Winston took a little too literally in 2019. As Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com explained on Wednesday’s PFT Live, Winston’s performance late in the year directly cooked his goose, with a season-ending pick-six in overtime against the Falcons providing the death blow.
How big was that final miscue? Ira believes that, if Winston had instead led the Bucs to a game-winning touchdown drive in overtime of that Week 17 game, Arians would have kept Winston.
Instead, it will be Brady with the Bucs. And Brady has never thrown more than 14 interceptions in any season of his 20-year career. In that time, he has 541 touchdown passes and only 179 interceptions, slightly more than 3:1.
That ratio will be tested during his first season with Arians, based on the manner in which most other quarterbacks have performed in their first seasons with Arians.