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The Buccaneers’ Tom Brady-Bruce Arians experiment hasn’t exactly been smooth in their first season together, and doubts are being raised about whether they’ll make it to Year 2.
Pat McAfee, a former Pro Bowl punter with the Colts who hosts “The Pat McAfee Show” on SiriusXM radio, isn’t sure Brady and Arians will both be with the Bucs for the 2021 NFL season, noting Arians’ public criticisms of the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
“I think the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick thing when it comes to dealing with criticism, Tom Brady has dealt with that a lot internally,” McAfee told The Post. “Now public scrutiny from your head coach in press conferences, it’s very interesting. I would have never expected this because I actually played for a team with Bruce Arians being the interim head coach when Chuck Pagano got Leukemia and a lot of those coaches down there are friends of mine, guys that I played for and a lot of them I know very well.
“I would not have expected the public statement from the coach about Tom Brady. I would assume Bruce Arians thinks that there’s a plan in this whole thing. But it has obviously not worked out to this point exactly how a lot of us thought it would be. I mean with all those weapons with Tom Brady, with a defense that was very young last year that got good toward the end of the year, we thought Tampa would be able to move. But I think with the COVID protocols, not being able to go through OTAs, a normal thing to kind of adjust to everybody, I think it’s a weird year to begin with. I’m not 100-percent sure those two are gonna be together again next year in Tampa.”
The Buccaneers (7-5) lost two straight entering their bye this week and have yet to fully jell offensively. Arians has said he’s just being honest when he dissects Brady’s performance, and Brady claims he and Arians have a good relationship.
But Arians’ comments throughout the season have caught the eye of people in Brady’s circle.
“Tom’s a big boy, he can take it,” a person close to Brady recently told CBS Sports. “It’s a great way to deflect blame from Arians. Keep everybody asking about the quarterback so they don’t focus on the limitations of the scheme or the lack of adjustments being made. Are they really grinding to find every way to make this work better or just blaming the quarterback? Are they grinding all night trying to find the answers?”
Brady, 43, signed a two-year, $50 million contract with Tampa Bay after leaving the Patriots following a 20-year run. The contract is fully guaranteed.
McAfee’s expansive post-NFL career has included a foray into pro wrestling, and he’ll wrestle his second match for WWE’s NXT brand Sunday night at NXT TakeOver: WarGames (7 p.m., WWE Network.)