Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians: Tom Brady's issue is with continuity, not confidence

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said Tuesday that he doesn't believe that quarterback Tom Brady, who threw two interceptions in a 27-24 Monday Night Football loss to the Los Angeles Rams, has confidence issues with his new offense.

But Arians does believe that after 20 years with the New England Patriots playing under Bill Belichick, Brady is struggling with continuity issues.

Arians also thinks some of Brady's issues with accuracy on the deep ball -- a core principle of the coach's offense -- have more to do with confusion he's experiencing with certain coverages than with his ability.

"We have Tom calling a lot of his own [plays], or picking his own on the sidelines from the game plan," Arians said Tuesday. "I don't think it's a confidence problem whatsoever. It's not lack of trust -- it's lack of continuity within the offense, of the whole picture."

The deep ball has been a particular challenge for Brady in recent weeks, and the coaching staff has discussed altering the plays called. In Weeks 1-7, Brady completed 43% of his passes of 20 or more air yards (16-of-37). But in Weeks 8-11, Brady has completed just 5.3% of those passes (1-of-19). Against the Rams, Brady went 0-for-6 on such passes.

"We've got the guys open. We've just missed 'em," Arians said. "There are times when coverage dictates you go to that guy. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan. ... But when they're there, we need to hit 'em. We can't have 'em going off our fingertips and we can't overthrow 'em.

"Other than the deep ball, I think he's getting confused a few times with coverage that might be causing some inaccurate balls, but I don't see it at all in practice. We're not missing the deep ball in practice, that's for sure, so it's just a matter of, on Sundays, hitting 'em."

A misread coverage is ultimately what caused Brady's second interception of the game on a pass intended for tight end Cam Brate with just under two minutes left and the Bucs trailing by a field goal.

"Just a bad read," Brady said. "Cam was running up a seam, and at the last second I saw the safety coming over and just popped it over Cam's head. Just a bad read, a bad throw, decision -- everything. Can't happen."

Brady has thrown eight touchdowns and three interceptions against disguised coverages -- where a defense shows one type of coverage pre-snap but is lining up in a different coverage. His three picks against disguises are fourth most in the league, whereas his eight TDs are second highest behind Russell Wilson.

His completion percentage is 58.3% against disguises -- 29th in the league and the lowest it's been since ESPN Stats & Information began tracking disguised coverages in 2016. From 2016 to 2019 in New England, Brady completed 69.1% of his passes against disguises, with 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions.

Some critics have suggested that Arians' system doesn't work for Brady, who relied more on a quick passing game with the Patriots. When asked what he'd say to those who think this offense doesn't fit Brady and what he does best, Arians said, "He can do anything. So it's not like he can't do it. I see him do it all the time. He was doing it in September, so it hasn't changed.

"You don't have a spring at all or a real training camp, it's hard on the quarterback, especially when you've done something for 20 years and then throw all these guys at him. I think the lack of practice time and everything, and learning of everything, from spring through camp is still showing up."

Interestingly, Arians said he's not worried about trying to find an offensive identity right now -- which also seems to be a culprit for some of the Bucs' struggles. But on the other hand, a lack of identity can catch opponents off guard.

Teams also evolve over time, like the Seattle Seahawks have done with their 'Let Russ Cook' offense, in which they pass the ball at a much higher rate than in years past. But having so many new pieces in place doesn't necessarily lend itself to week-to-week continuity or building.

The Bucs ran the ball just five times against the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago, 37 times against the Carolina Panthers last week and 18 times against the Rams on Monday night.

"I think each and every week's different," Arians said. "Right now, it's just a matter of trying to win a ballgame. It's about, 'What's best to beat this next team?' It's not about ... 'Have the whole offensive playbook in, and all this and that.' It's just, 'Take this game plan and try to win this week,' and we'll worry about all that next year."