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Bruce Arians on Buccaneers' pre-Germany struggles: Tom Brady 'was playing bad'

When Bruce Arians ran things, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach loved to needle Tom Brady. Now the current senior adviser to general manager Jason Licht, not much has changed.

In an interview with Ira Kaufman of, Arians defended offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, who had been under heat for the club's struggles before Sunday's victory over Seattle in Germany.

"I don't think it was fair to Byron," Arians said. "Nobody is going to say that Brady was playing bad, but he was playing bad. We also had growing pains on a young offensive front and we weren't running well. There comes a time as a play-caller when you're losing yards running the ball and you say, 'Forget this, I'm putting the ball in Tom's hands.' "

Given how much Arians openly criticized Brady when he was the head coach, it's not surprising that he'd place the blame at the foot of the quarterback in defense of his former OC. On the other hand, it's unusual for someone not in charge of the day-to-day operations to make comments, particularly anything that skews negative.

As always, Arians isn't your normal cat.

"I'm really optimistic about the rest of the season," he said. "First off, we're getting healthy. Tom smiled at practice last week for the first time this season. He's going to be fine. I love the swagger we played with Sunday, especially defensively. It's been missing. Seattle's a good running team, but that kid (Kenneth Walker) went nowhere."

The Bucs took sole possession of first place in the struggling NFC South with Sunday's victory. With the easiest remaining schedule in the NFC, Brady and Co. could coast to the postseason, particularly if their play continues to improve like it did in Week 10.

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