In the immediate aftermath of the unexpected unretirement of Tom Brady, we caught wind of a theory that Brady’s return was possibly tied to the eventual exit of Bruce Arians. (Check out the attached video from Monday, March 14, if you don’t believe me.)
Eighteen days later — and on the evening that the annual league meetings ended — Arians has stepped down.
Peter King has the story. Arians is out, Todd Bowles takes over. And while Herculean efforts will be undertaken to create the impression that Brady didn’t directly or indirectly attach his return to a coaching change, many will believe that Brady came back only after he knew that Arians wouldn’t.
The timeline is too narrow. The circumstantial evidence is too strong. Rich Orhnberger, a former teammate of Brady’s and a close friend of Buccaneers assistant A.Q. Shipley, posted multiple tweets regarding the dysfunction that had developed between Brady and Arians. It should have been expected. Brady is all-in, all the time. Arians was essentially semi-retired. At some point, the people doing all the work begin to resent the ones who aren’t doing very much at all. And if, as Orhnberger claimed, Arians was swooping in and revising the game-planning efforts Brady and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, at some point people were bound to get pissy.
They’ll deny that Brady’s return had anything to do with Arians leaving. Because of course they will. Brady may say something at some point, aimed at pushing the idea that he didn’t nudge Arians out. And Brady himself said last June that 90 percent of the things he says publicly aren’t true.
Really, if Brady hinged his return on Arians not staying, Brady would NEVER admit it. The Buccaneers wouldn’t, either.
That said, if the Bucs did indeed have a choice to make between another year with Brady and another year with Arians, it’s a no-brainer. Brady, not Arians, is the reason they’re requiring new season-ticket holders to buy season tickets for two years. Brady, not Arians, is the reason the team is a high-level contender. The Bucs, who have a long history of unceremoniously and unexpectedly firing coaches, would have been stupid to say “no thanks” to Brady if Brady, or someone on his behalf, made it clear that Brady expected certain changes to be made, if he came back.
And the changes Brady expected quite possibly included the biggest possible change that could be made to the coaching staff.
Put it this way. Arians’s departure either was tied to Brady’s return, or it was all one hell of a coincidence. Most will believe it was not one hell of a coincidence.