By now we’ve all heard the common refrain that new Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady won’t fit in Bruce Arians’ offense because he can’t or won’t throw the deep ball (20+ yards or more). I’ve already blasted the myth to smithereens based on evidence over the past three seasons (Brady has thrown the deep ball at an above average league rate the past two seasons, and led the league in deep ball throws in 2017), but now we have ample new evidence from Week 1 that the narrative remains absolute bogus.

During Sunday’s 34-23 loss against the Saints, Brady threw eight passes of 20 yards or more, three in the first half and five in the second half. Projected over a 16-game season, that would be 128 attempts of 20 yards or more – or 27 more than the 2019 league leader in deep ball attempts, Aaron Rodgers (per Pro Football Focus).

Obviously it is unlikely that Brady continues at that rate, which would be the highest mark in recorded Pro Football Focus history, but it clearly demonstrates a willingness to stretch the field that meshes perfectly with Arians’ desire to do the same.

But that isn’t even the best news. The best news is that not only is Brady willing, he’s also able. Of those eight deep attempts, five were absolutely perfect deep balls from Brady, with two of them going for completions and the other three drawing defensive pass interference penalties.

Deep Ball No. 1: 29 yards to Chris Godwin

The corner route is one of the toughest throws in football, and Brady put this one right on the money for Godwin. What a gorgeous ball despite good coverage.

Deep Ball No. 2: 22-yard DPI on Marshon Lattimore

A deep shot 22 yards down the field, Brady dropped a perfect toss right into Mike Evans’ arms, one of which was pinned down by Lattimore. Evans can’t make the circus grab on a perfect throw, but the defensive pass interference may as well count as a completion.

Deep Ball No. 3: 45-yard DPI on Marcus Williams

The Saints sent a corner blitz and Brady immediately identified it, laying out a perfect pass to a streaking Evans. Williams, the safety, can’t turn and find the football after giving up a step to Evans, and was forced to drag the receiver down to avoid giving up a bigger play. Another should-be completion simply appearing in the box score in the form of a huge penalty.

Deep Ball No. 4: 28-yard DPI on Patrick Robinson

Another perfect deep ball from Brady, this time on the slot fade to Scotty Miller. Robinson was forced to pin Miller’s left arm as the ball arrives, resulting in another defensive pass interference. Another 28 yards that should be on Brady’s passing total, but won’t show up in the box score.

Deep Ball No. 5: 37-yard dime to Scotty Miller

It doesn’t get much better than this. Brady stepped up in the pocket and dropped a perfect throw in to Miller, who ran under it for a 37-yard gain. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was in pretty decent position, but Brady’s throw just gave him no shot at the ball. Obviously a terrific play by Miller, too.

Deep Ball No. 6: Interception By Williams

“One (interception) was a miscommunication between he and Mike,” Bruce Arians said after the game. “He thought Mike was going down the middle. It was a different coverage and Mike read it right. He should have bent across his face, but Tom just overthrew it.”

Arians was wrong, and admitted so on Monday’s conference call after he had a chance to review the tape.

“No doubt,” Arians said on the day after the game. “It wasn’t Cover 2. It was quarters coverage, and Mike should have been splitting, going down the middle and never stopping.”

Evans was working from the slot against zone coverage. It’s a two-high safety look with the middle of the field open (MOFO), which means Evans needed to take his route across the safety’s face to the space between the safeties. It’s a simple middle read concept, and Evans simply makes a mistake. He sat down when he should keep going, and to make matters worse, he drifted slowly towards the middle of the field at the top of his route, almost as if he was uncertain as to what to do.

Brady interpreted Evans’ body language at the top of his route as running a post (which clearly is what Evans began to do) and threw the ball. He believed Evans would “bend across his (the safety’s) face,” as Arians was referencing above. Evans broke off his route, and the result was an interception.

Now, was the throw a great one by Brady? It looked like a slight overthrow to me, although these things are hard to tell when the intended target is not where he should be on the play. This was also a throw that needed to be upstairs, over where the linebacker could leap and knock it down and hopefully where Evans could high-point and box out the safety at the catch point.

I might ding Brady a little for a high throw, but the mental mistake was completely on Evans. Anyway, you can argue Brady’s throw could have been better, but the mental mistake and the interception were not on him.

Deep Ball No. 7: Incomplete to Rob Gronkowski

Again, the Saints are in a two-high safety look, with the middle linebacker opening to No. 3 to the field and carrying anything vertical (Tampa 2). Tight end Rob Gronkowski needed to bend this route to the middle of the field and away from the field safety (Malcolm Jenkins), in order to give Brady a throwing window. He should be reading MOFO (middle of the field open) and breaking toward that space at the top of his route. As long as Gronkowski continued in a vertical line, he’s capped with the safety over the top and the linebacker trailing underneath.

While being hit, Brady put a well thrown ball right down the middle of the field where Gronkowski should be. But the veteran tight end never breaks off his route, so Brady’s pass falls incomplete. Jenkins made a great break on the ball, so even a good route by Gronkowski would have been contested, but the throw is where it should be, even if it was a bit of a risky decision by Brady. The error was on Gronkowski.

Deep Ball No. 8: The Bad Throw!

Brady was trying to throw the out-and-up to O.J. Howard here, but he was covered by a cornerback, and this wasn’t Brady’s first read on the play either. Still, Brady needed to put more air on this ball, allowing Howard to use his size and leaping ability to go up over Jenkins and make a play. By throwing it on a line drive, Brady took away his receiver’s biggest advantage and made it tough for Howard to find the football.

It’s not a terrible throw, as Howard still got a hand on it and probably could have fought back harder through the defender for the ball. But it was definitely not an ideal pass, and the only one of Brady’s eight deep passes that I thought was clearly on the quarterback.

Bonus Toss

This one didn’t quite cover 20 yards in the air, but what a clutch throw by Brady off his back foot with pressure in his face. Right on the money to Godwin for a huge first down. That was a tough throw from a quarterback who does not make a lot of muddy pocket tosses from a compromised base. Beautiful stuff from the GOAT.

It’s early, but the one week sample size from Brady in Arians’ offense says that not only is the veteran quarterback willing to throw the ball down the field with regularity, he’s also extremely capable. His tape from the past couple of years also says that, as do all the numbers. Maybe it’s time to put this part of the Brady discussion to bed, and move on to other topics surrounding the Bucs’ star quarterback.

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
Subscribe
Notify of
33 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
chefboho

I for one was never concerned with his arm strength. It was always about the lack of reps due to covid. IT makes such a huge difference missing out on those 1500 reps that Arians mentioned. This game will be in the rear view starting next week. Very few if anyone thought the bucs would pull this out and I’m glad most of the analysts think the same way. Next week should be an all out assault by this offence.

+14
-1
Rating: +13. From 15 votes.
Please wait...
Bucco-Bruce

Jon, Great breakdown and information, thank you!! What would have happened without the boneheaded plays!!

+15
-1
Rating: +14. From 16 votes.
Please wait...
BucRy

Do one on Donovan Smith.

+10
-2
Rating: +8. From 12 votes.
Please wait...
KrusherKen

I’ll give you a summary on what that would look like: “Putrid”…..!

+5
-1
Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
Please wait...
PatrioticChief

The picks were inexplicable but Brady had some damn beauties in that game. Honestly that whole game was just so bizarre in how talented the Bucs looked one second and utterly in their head the next. Right now everything needs to be better from the coaching down but I still loved the game day talent I saw today. There are some ballers on this team.

+17
-1
Rating: +16. From 18 votes.
Please wait...
KrusherKen

Great breakdown. I had a debate with some others early this morning and thought he threw some really nice dimes down the field. Too bad this game was overshadowed by a couple really dumb penalties, some lazy inexcusable plays (Smith and Davis), and the bonehead insane mistake on the kickoff return. Just really made the effort look a lot worse than what it was. TB12 is one of the few things not to worry about moving forward.

+17
-2
Rating: +15. From 19 votes.
Please wait...
scubog

“Lazy inexcusable plays” from Davis? What game were you watching? Carlton Davis absolutely took Michael Thomas out of the game. Perhaps you have an old roster. Davis #24 now. Whitehead is #33.

+4
0
Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
Please wait...
KrusherKen

My bad – I meant Jamal Dean on the coverage against Cook down the left sideline. Davis was fantastic

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
PatrioticChief

It’s worth noting that BA completely walked back saying the first pick was Brady’s fault. Said Brady read the coverage right and Evans should have continued the route. So yes that pick six sucked apples but that first pick was on the receiver, or at least partially. That is what I thought originally so I’m glad I wasn’t wrong. Brady of course didn’t say anything about it but that’s not what he does. He’s not gonna throw his guys under the boss post game but the side eye he gave Evans coming across the field spoke volumes to me. Rate… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by PatrioticChief
Spruce

Something Arians should consider. Keep his yap shut in the post game presser before he has a chance to see the tape, talk to the players before he throws the GOAT under the bus.

+12
-2
Rating: +10. From 14 votes.
Please wait...
PatrioticChief

Yeah like I respect calling it what it is but when you call it wrong you are the idiot then. I mean it makes Brady look like he understands things better than his head coach, which frankly, he probably does.

+8
-1
Rating: +7. From 9 votes.
Please wait...
Spruce

I don’t agree it’s dependent on accuracy. Players not the least of which Brady have pride. They will take closed door critiques in stride in most cases in front of their peers. To make it a public in front of amateurs just erects walls and creates long standing bitterness that is hard to move past.. My view the worst Bucs performance Sunday was Arians at the presser and he owes the players an apology.

+3
0
Rating: +3. From 3 votes.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

He wasn’t the GOAT yesterday. Instead he was just a goat.

0
-11
Rating: -11. From 11 votes.
Please wait...
eaustinyoung

Agreed. Belichick doesn’t say shit to the media and that adds to the image of the Patriots. No one knows what’s going on in his head so it’s hard to plan to play them.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Horse

I keep saying it was the turnovers!
This team is not perfect, but they are good and will get better.
Obviously there’s work to be done on the special teams too! I think we’ll see some player movement in this arena.
Go Bucs!

+5
0
Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
Please wait...
Ron Potter

Whether it’s Tom Brady (the GOAT as they say) or Jameis Winston, the results are still the same. Pick 6’s and a loss. All those negative fans who were so vocal bashing Winston should be apologizing. The problems on this team went far beyond the QB, and it sucks being a life-long TB fan seeing the team fail to keep a home-grown QB in its decades of existence.

+2
-18
Rating: -16. From 20 votes.
Please wait...
BigSombrero

I agree. Organically built teams are why people still give credit to Dungy for Grudens SB win in Tampa.

+1
-10
Rating: -9. From 11 votes.
Please wait...
Ron Potter

True. You could copy-and-paste an article from last year and just changed the name from Winston to Brady and those articles would’ve fit the story of this game just fine. Yet many wasted their breath vehemently being anti-Winston and insulting toward Bucfan brothers and sisters over Winston. SMH. Brady has the same potential to deliver the same 7-9 results as last year. Sure, different things might happen to bake that cake, but as life-long Bucs fans, we’ve seen how that happens.

+1
-1
Rating: 0. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
scubog

Not me. I give credit to Sam Wyche for Sapp, Brooks and Lynch.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Spruce

Really. Based on one game. A game against a stable, arguably the best team in all of football. And you’re ready to throw the entire year under the bus.
My money says that will prove to be a very rash, incorrect observation in the long run.

+6
0
Rating: +6. From 6 votes.
Please wait...
Ron Potter

I’m not throwing the entire year under the bus. Just pointing out what many of our fans overlook when it’s there. First game of the season gave us a reminder how silly it is to argue over one guy so vehemently in this specific brand of team sport. First game of the season gave us the reminder that even when you have the GOAT, the potential is still there for the Bucs to be the same old Bucs. A lot of bandwagon Brady-fans are going to experience what it means to be a Buc’s fan if the losing continues… and… Read more »

ryan

I don’t think we realize how lucky we are to have Jon covering the Bucs this season. Just elite analysis – not the normal reactionary “sports radio guy” comments we are used to hearing in Tampa. I hate to bad mouth Scott and Mark, but they just need to get out of his way on the podcast. Better yet – get Trevor back and have him and Jon together for a weekly one. I actually have found Jon better on other podcasts because they just let Jon share knowledge. Again great stuff Jon. I’m just going to enjoy while he… Read more »

Spruce

Couldn’t disagree more. He’s enabling the no risk it no biscuit philosophy that Brady will clearly run when the play is called but it is not his philosophy nor will it get the Bucs to the promised land. I guarantee the balls will become more inaccurate as the season grinds on. They need to run, dink and dunk, tale shots sparingly, use up the clock and ration Brady’s 43 year old arm over a brutal season. Just because Brady can do it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing to do for him. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes… Read more »

Spruce

I’m really confused. Hasn’t the criticism centered on the fact that Brady should be using more of his philosophy of play calling as opposed to the long ball fun and gun Arians has always enjoyed? There’s be a lot of chatter about the play calling and those wonderful long passes of which they depended to much. As opposed to the tactical run, dink-dunk and take your shots sparingly approach Brady favors, eats up the clock and keeps the ball away from Brees. Enjoy the long ball if you like. I guarantee it will become less accurate late in the season… Read more »

BigSombrero

In 2019 Brady averaged 4 passes that travel 21-30 yards and 2 passes that travel 31+ yards per game. The completion results were about the same also, which is surprising given that this is the most talented skill group he’s ever had. I would also point out that none of these long throws were touchdowns. The purpose of the deep pass to the guy with 4.3 speed is to score on one play. Think about when Mahomes hits Hill. This didn’t look like that, no matter how you break it down. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating00 No votes yet.… Read more »

scubog

How’d “Old Man Rivers” do?

+2
0
Rating: +2. From 2 votes.
Please wait...
Dave

Just ignore him. I’m done responding to the bs he posts. No matter what evidence is laid in front of him, he’ll find a way to say Brady sucks, and was the problem Sunday. Even though he had 105 yards worth of PI’s that were easy completions if not for PI’s. That’s now up to 345 yards. And the Godwin 3rd and 1 that he dropped because he ran before he caught the ball. Not saying 100%, but that looked like he was gonna take that to the house for an 80 yard TD if he didn’t drop it. He… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Dave
Ron Potter

I haven’t been following his posts on Brady, but I would add that nobody threw like Winston. Dude has a cannon for an arm. We see how playing for the Bucs didn’t help Winston. Didn’t help Steve Young. Didn’t help Doug Williams. Didn’t help Trent Dilfer. Point is, a majority of Buc history doesn’t help QBs here. You could copy-and-paste a story of one of Winston’s bad games last year and it would’ve fit Brady’s first game here just fine. Here’s to hoping the GOAT can make a different… which I believe he can. But there needs to be a… Read more »

Dave

100% agree man

0
0
No votes yet.
Please wait...
plopes808

Yes, aside from the one bad throw on the out route he was on the money all night!

+4
0
Rating: +4. From 4 votes.
Please wait...
peter benet

As usual, terrific film analysis by Jon
Bizarre that BA so readily calls out TB12–more grit, more determination? Wut?
Maybe BA heard they are laughing in Boston about Tom having to handle the Tampa Clownshow with badly coached special teams and sloppy penalties you don’t see in Foxboro.

+5
-1
Rating: +4. From 6 votes.
Please wait...
Bschucher

Listening to you discuss the Evans overthrow on last podcast and then Arians pretty much saying pretty much what you said has sold me on your analysis work.. Mad props.

+1
0
Rating: +1. From 1 vote.
Please wait...