The Bucs are thrilled to have Tom Brady back under center in 2022.

How about the rest of the teams in the NFL?

Well, not so much.

After leading the league in passing yardage with 5,123 yards and 43 touchdowns – both Bucs single-season records – Brady retired shortly after the season. His short-lived retirement lasted just 40 days. On the eve of free agency, Brady unretired and announced he would return to Tampa Bay for a 23rd season.

Rams head coach Sean McVay has beaten Tampa Bay three straight times in the past two seasons. The most recent win came in a 30-27 victory over Brady and the Bucs in the divisional round of the playoffs.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

When asked for his reaction when Brady unretired, McVay deadpanned: “I was like, ‘Shit, man – can we get this guy the hell out of the league?”

Brady arrived in Tampa Bay in 2020 after 20 years in New England where he won six Super Bowl titles. The Bucs won Super Bowl LV in Brady’s first season, and then won a franchise-record 13 regular season games in 2021. Tampa Bay also won the NFC South division for the first time since 2007.

Falcons head coach Arthur Smith, who went 0-2 against Brady in his first season in Atlanta, never bought the notion that he retired in the first place.

“I never thought he retired,” Smith said. “No, and I think I said that [at the NFL Scouting Combine]. He’s playing at a high level. When we played Tampa and if he didn’t run out there then I would believe it. But Tom is playing as good as anybody.”

Like Smith, Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury didn’t expect Brady to stay on the sidelines.

“I thought he was going to unretire and he unretired – I just knew,” Kingsbury said. “The way they went out – he’s such a competitor. If he can still play and keep doing it like he’s doing it now I didn’t think he’d walk away from that ultimately. And he didn’t.”

Panthers coach Matt Rhule, who is 0-4 against Brady and the Bucs in his two years in Carolina, is excited to continue to play against the greatest QB of all time.

“When he retired, obviously for us it was, ‘Alright, that changes the complexion of the NFC South,’” Rhule said. “No one plays it better than Tom Brady. I 100 percent think the league is better when you have guys like Tom Brady and some of the other great players playing in it. As a fan I’m all for it.

“He brings out the best in everybody. As you prepare and build your defense now you’ve got to build it for him. For him to be this good at what he’s doing this late in his career it’s just absolutely impressive. If you want to be a competitor you want peoples’ best, and obviously Tom is the best.”

New New Orleans head coach Dennis Allen served as the Saints defensive coordinator under Sean Payton. No team has had more success against Brady than the Saints. Brady is 4-5 all-time versus New Orleans, including a 0-4 record over the past two regular seasons.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints DE Cam Jordan

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints DE Cam Jordan – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Well, I mean he’s probably the greatest quarterback of all time, so there’s a little bit of like ‘Damn, I thought we were done with this guy?’ But, certainly we enjoy the challenge of having to go up against him, and they’re a hell of a team. I don’t know if I had a big reaction to it. A little surprised, but it is what it is.”

Brady’s return not only increases Tampa Bay’s chances of winning the NFC South division again. It makes the Bucs a threat to the Rams in the NFC and legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

“He’s worked so hard to be in that position,” Kingsbury said. “They have a great team there in Tampa and a great set up. So it’s good for everybody that he’s back – except for the teams in the NFC.”

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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2 months ago

We gotta beat the Saints twice this season..

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
2 months ago

Brady isn’t the reason the Bucs haven’t beaten Sean McVay (Rams) or Sean Payton (Saints), that’s all on Bruce Arians. If anything let’s credit Brady for winning SB in spite of BA or Todd Bowles. Tough to overcome bad coaching