Former Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has largely disappeared since partially instigating a Week Two fracas between receiver Mike Evans and Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Arians, officially the senior adviser to G.M. Jason Licht, is back.
Arians spoke to Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com. Among other things, Arians gave credit to coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich for keeping things together during the team’s three-game losing streak. Arians also gave blame to one specific player.
“I talked to Byron every day when that was happening,” Arians said. “He doesn’t read the papers and nothing bothers Byron. That’s what I love about him and that’s why he’ll be a damned good head coach one day, because he weathers everything. And Todd does, too.”
Leftwich bore the brunt of the criticism during the losing streak, due to an offense that was going nowhere.
“I don’t think it was fair to Byron,” Arians said. “Nobody is going to say that [quarterback Tom] 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.”
During Arians’s two years of coaching Brady, Arians never minced words regarding Brady. It’s surprising to see Arians speaking out, now that he’s not the coach — and now that the Tampa Bay offense is turning it around.
“I’m really optimistic about the rest of the season,” Arians said. “First off, we’re getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He’s going to be fine. I love the swagger we played with Sunday, especially defensively. It’s been missing.”
If it’s back, the Buccaneers will be dangerous. To any team and every team they face in the postseason. If they get there.
And, frankly, they should. They have a one-game lead plus a tiebreaker over the Falcons, and the Bucs should be able to hold it with a seven-game stretch that begins after the emerge from a Week 11 bye.