The Tampa Bay offense isn’t consistently clicking. As a result, questions have been swirling regarding the responsibility of quarterback Tom Brady for the execution of the attack, and for its design.
Is he being asked to do things he’s not comfortable doing? How involved is he in selecting the plays that will be used?
The narrative that Brady has had plenty of involvement in the offense has gathered steam in the aftermath of Monday night’s loss to the Rams. Earlier this week, coach Bruce Arians made it clear that the offense rises and falls based on the quality of Brady’s performances. Arians also made it clear that Brady is “calling a lot of his own [plays], or picking his own on the sidelines from the game plan,” and that as to the notion that Brady is being asked to do things he doesn’t do well, “He can do anything, so it’s not like he can’t do it. I see him do it all the time.”
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich met with reporters, and inevitably he was asked about whether and to what extent the team is putting Brady in a bad spot.
Here’s the question that was posed to Leftwich by Jenna Laine of ESPN.com: “You hear the critics, and I know they’re chipping. Some of those folks had said that it seems like Tom is trying to play someone else’s offense. But I know that he does have quite a bit of involvement in the game planning and even calling some of the plays. So can you just kind of speak to his level of involvement in taking control of this offense?”
“You guys know how I am, I tell you this all the time,” Leftwich said in response. “The quarterback is the offense. I say that all the time. Remember, I understand that it’s still a version of entertainment, so something has to be said. And when plays don’t work and when things don’t work, that’s what comes with losing in this league. We all accept that, we understand that. All we can do is hopefully get the next opportunity where we can be in position to do the right thing so we can have the opportunity to win the football game. It’s hard to win week in and week out, ee understand that. Everyone expects us to win every game. We get that. But our job is to go out and prepare ourselves and get in position to try to win every football game also. So we understand those responsibilities.”
While Leftwich’s answer quickly disintegrated into coachspeak, the hammer came early. “The quarterback is the offense.” In other words, this is Brady’s show. He’s not being asked to do things he doesn’t want to do. And he has the power to not do those things or any other things.
This not-so-subtle dance has resulted in an effort by the coaches to nudge blame for the offensive struggles from them to Tom. When Brady meets with reporters (presumably today), we’ll see whether he’s asked basically the same question that Leftwich was asked: “Some have said that it seems like you are trying to play someone else’s offense. But I know you have quite a bit of involvement in the game planning and even calling some of the plays. So can you just kind of speak to your level of involvement in taking control of this offense?”
If the question is asked that way, the answer (or lack of one) could be very intriguing.