Brady’s time in New England will forever be a part of him, but now he wears a skull on his helmet, can dress in shorts for winter practice, and reports to a 68-year-old coach, Bruce Arians, who is coming out of retirement, to coach the Buccaneers is the stylistic opposite of Belichick. When Arians was recently asked if he would like to pursue Brady during the off-season, he responded with a rhetorical question: “Do you sit and live in a closet to be safe or are you going to have fun?” He added, “I think I would have smoked something illegal to really imagine.”
Brady’s arrival in Tampa reflected a certain harmonious convergence, a confluence of foresight, daring, and chance largely alien to the Buccaneers, who hadn’t won a playoff game since the Raiders steamrolled for their only post-2002 title. Their search was called Operation Shoeless Joe Jackson, a wink to the prophecy from the movie “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come” Brady appreciated how General Manager Jason Licht put together a team that solved problems around him rather than asking him to solve them himself. “They were an organization ready to win,” Gronkowski said of the buccaneers. “The players here were ready to win.”
The Buccaneers were filled with playmakers, linebackers who excelled at cover, and aggressive defenders who matured as the season progressed. Before it even got going, her cornerback coach Kevin Ross wrote on a board all of the quarterbacks they faced – Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Mahomes, all of which they set on fire for 462 yards and three touchdowns in Week 12 had. But that defeat proved to be a turning point for the buccaneers, who had walked 7-5 through the moon in the first three months while shuffling forward as they drifted backwards.
They ended the season winning their last four games, then defeating three consecutive division champions – and two of Brady’s elite fellow quarterbacking fellow Brees and Rodgers – en route to their first Super Bowl in 18 seasons. This team, like this one, was full of defensive talent and needed an underdog, coach Jon Gruden, to turn it into a champion. Brady gave hope, credibility and opportunity to the buccaneers.
“Brady, there is nothing he can’t do,” said full-back Shaquil Barrett, who had four tackles and a sack. “New team, new scheme, first year, go to the Super Bowl and win everything. He’s the GOAT for sure. “
In a measure of Brady’s continued excellence, it should be remembered that not only is he now quartering the youngest team to win Super Bowls in a row after 2003 and 2004 seasons with New England, but also the last two to ruin repeated deals. When a classic defensive game thwarted Seattle after the 2014 season, it was a sweeping effort that stifled the Chiefs.
En route to Sunday, Mahomes had completed 14 kneeling trips that postseason, and only once did the defense prevent Kansas City from scoring a touchdown or attempting a field goal. Tampa Bay Defense Coordinator Todd Bowles devised a masterly plan to neutralize Mahomes, clearing the sideline and deep areas while deploying a four-man onslaught.