Tom Brady's greatest hurdle in years is ahead of him this summer.
By the time he takes the field in Tampa, Brady will be 43 years old, and he'll hopefully have a full understanding of the Buccaneers' offense. It'll be the first time he has to learn much of anything new -- other than the names of his recently acquired teammates -- in the last decade-plus. It also won't be the first time a legendary quarterback had to change places late in his career.
Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen witnessed the counterpart to Brady's greatness in the same era, Peyton Manning, go from working with Christensen in Indianapolis to a whole new environment in Denver in the middle of the last decade. A huge adjustment turned out to be a small one, as Manning essentially took his Colts playbook with him and the Broncos willingly implemented what Manning already knew. The same won't take place in Tampa, according to Christensen.
"I think what we'll see here (in Tampa) is Bruce's offense with a Brady influence," Christensen told The Athletic's Bob Kravitz. "Bruce wants to keep the offense the same. We did some good things last year. Tom has been terrific as far as saying, 'Just tell me what you want to do.' And honestly, there's a lot of carryover from all these offenses; it's just what you call certain things.
"We're looking forward to seeing how he can influence the offense. He'll make it better. That's what the great ones do. He'll have some great ideas so we're anxious to get his take on things."
Significant input is different than total command of an offense, especially for a quarterback who has spent his entire career in what has essentially been the same system. That's a challenge, no doubt, but Christensen made an interesting point about the greats of this game: They aren't too proud to be taught something new.
"You coach them hard. Those high performers, despite what people might think, they want to be coached," Christensen said. "Do you want to get Peyton riled up? Don't coach him. He wanted it. Until the end, he wanted to be coached on the smallest details, getting away from center, his cadence, all those little things because they want to be coached on the details. That's how you improve five percent in your 18th year.
"That's what makes it so challenging for someone in my position. And I think we'll find that Tom wants to be coached on everything."
Instead of being in his comfort zone, Brady is learning about his new surroundings, and whenever NFL teams are again allowed to meet in person, he'll get to know his teammates better, too. For now, though, he's restricted to virtual meetings and information sent to him by Tampa's coaching staff, much of which is still in place from last year's productive campaign.
It's not all on Brady to familiarize himself with his new teammates and staff. The coaches need to get to know him, too. For Christensen, whose Colts were often the victim of another Super Bowl run made by Brady's Patriots as part of a rivalry that was the league's best in the first decade of the 2000s, he'll have to move past the disdain for No. 12 that was so ingrained in him during that era.
Of course, winning will help a whole lot.
"Crazy thing, I've never met him before," Christensen said. "That whole thing with Indy and New England was pretty fierce, as you know. Not a whole lot of hugging or shaking hands back then. After all those years in Indy, my whole family has had to be de-programmed not to hate Tom Brady anymore. But he's been great fun to talk to and learn about him and his family."
The Buccaneers have a solid foundation laid by Arians and his staff. They're adding a crown jewel to their home in Brady. Hopefully for them, the Tampa sun shines brightly off of him.