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Did Tom Brady Save Bruce Arians’ NFL Coaching Legacy?

Did Tom Brady save Bruce Arians’ NFL coaching legacy? Obviously, he boosted it. That goes without question and doesn’t really even need to be said, but how would NFL history look back upon Arians if Brady had never become a Buccaneer?

Was Bruce Arians Legacy Saved by Tom Brady?

Bruce Arians will always be remembered as a Super Bowl-winning NFL head coach, but without Tom Brady by his side these last two seasons, how would we have remembered him?

Due to his age and facial recognition, some football fans out there might assume Arians has been a head coach in the NFL for a very long time. Despite him pushing 70, this is not true at all. It feels like he has been around much longer, but in fact, Bruce Arians has only been a head coach in the NFL for less than a decade. This includes his one season as interim of the Indianapolis Colts following Chuck Pagano’s cancer diagnosis.

bruce arians buccaneers tom brady
Credit: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Arians’ Head Coaching Career Path

After leading the Colts to a 9-3 record, the then-61-year-old was a hot commodity and was immediately scooped up by the Arizona Cardinals where he managed three winning seasons followed by a legendary quarterback carousel that eventually lead to his demise following back to back losing seasons.

Following a year away from the game in 2018, he was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where he again endured a losing season, making it his third in a row.

In comes Tom Brady to provide not only two winning seasons, but two dominant seasons. With a combined 24-9 record, the Bucs dethroned the Saints after four straight NFC South Division Titles, winning their first since 2007 on their way to five playoff wins and a Super Bowl LV ring.

Bruce Arians Without Tom Brady

The question has to be asked, where would Bruce Arians and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers be if Brady has decided to go elsewhere? Would they have had any winning seasons? Sniffed playoff success? They most certainly would not have a Super Bowl.

In his six seasons without Tom Brady, Arians led his Arizona and Tampa teams to a combined 56-39 (58.9%) record, which is admittedly not terrible. Most of that success, however, came in his first three seasons, from 2013-15, when he took over a stable and ready-to-win Cardinals team with very good quarterback play.

What sticks out more than his mediocre regular season success is his 1-2 record in the playoffs without Brady. Nothing is for certain, but with how competitive the NFC South has been and how bad Arians-coached teams had been going into the Brady era, there is no reason to believe Arians would have tacked on any more playoff wins than the singular one he earned in Arizona.

The Case for Bruce Arians in Canton

Before too long, the question is going to be asked by someone in the media “Is Bruce Arians a Hall of Fame Coach?”

This is asked about almost any coach who wins a ring, warranted or not. For me, this time the answer is easy, and it’s a resounding no.

Without Tom Brady, Arians is nothing more than an old football guy who loves to drink scotch and has a very red face. He was not a head coach nearly long enough to get in on the length of career alone, and he did not have enough individual success prior to having the winningest QB who ever lived on his roster to really be credited for anything.

For me, the question that should be asked instead is should Bruce Arians even continue coaching? To that, my gut also says no.


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