Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
In an interview with Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis on Showtime (h/t joebucsfan, via ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio), Arians said of Brady: “I think his competitive spirit is so strong that he wanted to do it. He wanted to show people. I’ve never said anything bad about [Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick; I know everybody tries to say I do. His record speaks for itself. He is probably the greatest one ever. But I think [Brady] wanted to try a different way.”
Brady’s decision to set out on his own away from “The Patriot Way” turned out to be a great one, as Brady and the Bucs dominated the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl LV, giving No. 12 the seventh Super Bowl win of his career.
Although Brady won six rings in New England, it was only natural to question whether he could get the job done without Belichick at the controls.
Perhaps that got to Brady and put a chip on his shoulder. He certainly eliminated all doubt, and it only took him one season to do it.
While Brady led the Bucs to an 11-5 record, their first playoff appearance since 2007 and their first Super Bowl win since 2002, Belichick and the Patriots went just 7-9, as Cam Newton struggled under center all season long.
That marked the Pats’ first non-playoff season since 2008 and ended an 11-year run of winning the AFC East. It was also their first losing season since 2000, which was Belichick’s first year on the job.
Proving the detractors wrong may have been a motivating factor for Brady, but there is no question that he put himself in a more advantageous situation in Tampa.
Although the Patriots won the AFC East and reached the playoffs in 2019, the writing was on the wall, as the offense was far less efficient than usual. They also lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 17 to lose out on a first-round bye and then fell to the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Divisional Round in what was a listless performance from the offense.
Brady left a Patriots team devoid of weapons and went to a Bucs team that could offer him the wide receiver duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus a defense that dominated against the run in 2019 and had two top-notch pass-rushers in Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul.
The Buccaneers also committed to continuing to add talent around Brady, as they brought in tight end Rob Gronkowski, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Leonard Fournette after signing Brady.
Perhaps at 43 years of age, Brady felt as though he couldn’t do it on his own anymore. In Tampa Bay, with weapons galore, he didn’t have to.
After throwing for a modest 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns with New England in 2019, Brady was back to his old ways in 2020, throwing for 4,633 yards and 40 touchdowns in Arians’ pass-happy offense.
The Bucs had the players on both sides of the ball to challenge for a playoff spot in 2020 with or without Brady, but the signal-caller undoubtedly put them over the top and was the biggest factor in them managing to go the distance.
Brady has nothing left to prove, but he has already said he will be back in 2021 to go for championship No. 8, which would only serve to further cement his legacy as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.