Tom Brady threw two INTs, and the Tampa Bay offense looked off-kilter in Sunday's 34-23 loss in New Orleans.
After blaming both picks on Brady after the game, coach Bruce Arians shared fault in reassessing the situation Monday morning, noting on the first that Mike Evans should have kept running down the middle.
The truth-telling coach, however, chastised Brady for the later pick-six.
"If you throw an out route and you don't throw it low and outside -- that hasn't been the case up until that one," Arians said of his critical evaluation of the QB. "[He] was a little bit late on it and it probably [would have been] a better decision to go somewhere else with the ball."
Brady is no stranger to tough coaching, having spent 20 years under Bill Belichick. If he thought he'd get a reprieve in new scenery, Arians was the wrong choice to saddle up with. The 67-year-old is about as blunt as they come.
"He looked like Tom Brady in practice all the time so it's kind of unusual to see that in a ballgame because they didn't do things that we didn't get ready for," Arians said. "Everything they did we thought we were ready for. Some wide receivers have got to do a better job of winning one-on-one when he decides to go their way. (Brady) put us in the right run checks a couple of times. So it was a learning experience that way. Can't say that we were out of sync because we started out as good as you can start out. Going right down the field. Then we don't get any more chunk plays other than pass interference penalties. So I think it's a great learning experience. It's just Round 1 of a 16-round fight, and we'll learn from it."
After the initial TD drive, the Bucs were stymied by a good Saints defense. A three-and-out, INT, blocked field goal, four-and-out, and another INT comprised their next five possessions as Tampa dug a hole from which it'd never recover.
Because it's Brady, the performance will be over-analyzed like a Zapruder film.
The two INTs were uncharacteristic; Brady was under pressure all game and couldn't find a rapport with Mike Evans, who was blanketed by Marshon Lattimore.
We'll caution about making too much of one week for a team that hasn't had structured work together with its new QB. Some analysts will question Brady meshing with Arians' preferred divebomb style, but when the 43-year-old QB did go deep Sunday, most of his shots were fine. He had a couple of gorgeous deep balls that instead of catches turned into DPIs. Had those been completions instead of penalty yards, the context of Brady's play might be judged differently. The outcome still likely wouldn't have changed.
All offseason, we've talked about how teams with the most continuity would have a leg up due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling practices and preseason games. Those clubs will have even a bigger advantage early in the year. Few teams kept their core together better than the Saints. The Bucs, on the other hand, imported several players, including one at the most vital position in sports. To come away from Sunday's Saints-Bucs game surprised by Tampa's herky-jerky offense is to ignore the importance of offseason work for new teams.
"It's the situation where all that verbiage when you're under the gun is different and now you're getting hit for the first time, too. It's all different," Arians noted of common struggles early in seasons for QBs on new teams.
Even the GOAT isn't immune to early-season thorn pricks.
Losing Week 1 in that fashion is disappointing for Bucs fans who expect their team to compete for a Super Bowl. However, it's not time to panic.
If Brady and the Bucs offense gels for the stretch run and is playing their best ball in January, the season-opener will simply be seen as an amuse-bouche that spoiled after being left out unattended to all summer. There is plenty of time to straighten things out for the main course of the season.