Can Tom Brady Stay Healthy in Bruce Arians’ Sack-Friendly Offense?

Bruce Arians

Michael Reaves/Getty Images Head coach Bruce Arians of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Football fans can’t wait to see what new Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady will be able to accomplish throwing to uber-talented wide receivers like Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. For one, many are wondering if Brady will throw the ball downfield a lot more than he did in New England.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers & Tennessee Titans wide receiver Nate Washington thinks the answer might be “yes.”

Nate Washington’s Take on Tom Brady + Bruce Arians

Nate Washington would know. He played in Bruce Arians’ offense for several years in Pittsburgh, where Arians served as offensive coordinator. Washington also had a chance to practice with Brady in the spring and summer of 2016 while he was a member of the New England Patriots, his last stop in the NFL prior to retirement.

Appearing yesterday on the Midday 180 on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville, Washington says Brady would push the ball downfield more in practice than in games, partly because of the influence of Bill Belichick.

“That was Bill’s system,” Washington said. “In the short time I had practicing with New England, I experienced Tom trying to push the ball down the field, being successful a lot of times…. I actually seen him get in trouble by Bill because he didn’t hit the man that Bill would [have] preferred him to.”

Washington believes that the mix of Brady’s timing and Arians’ aggressive nature might be a great combination, adding, “If [Brady] did it with Randy [Moss] it’s going to be very much interesting to see what he can do with a Mike Evans.”

Bruce Arians’ QB’s Sacked at an Alarming Rate

Yet an ever bigger question might be: Can Tom Brady stay upright in Bruce Arians’ offense? Brady is known for getting the ball away quickly, which is why he absorbs relatively few sacks, no doubt part of the reason he has been able to extend his career into his mid-40s.

But Arians’ offense calls for holding onto the ball for an extended period of time—and taking a lot of hits from opposing defenders.

As noted by Bob Labriola of, in the five years that Arians was offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 47, 49, 50, 43 and 42 times, an average of 46.2 per season. No doubt it was the punishment that Roethlisberger was taking—not the results—that led the Steelers to replace Arians with Todd Haley. (Haley recognized that prolonging Big Ben’s career was important to Steelers’ ownership; in the following seven seasons, Roethlisberger was sacked an average of 26.7 times per year.)

More notably, still: “In his 20 NFL seasons, Brady has been sacked 500 times, an average of 25 times per season,” Labriola writes. “In 15 NFL seasons as either an offensive coordinator or a head coach, Arians’ offense never has seen the quarterback sacked as few as 25 times over the course of a whole regular season.”

Something has got to give, and given that he’ll be 43 years old this season, it may be Brady’s physical health.

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