The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the first half of the season looking like a Super Bowl contender, compiling a 6-2 mark, good for first in the NFC South. However, the Buccaneers dropped to 7-5 after winning just one of their next four games. Tom Brady and company lost heavily to the New Orleans Saints (38-3) and suffered back-to-back 27-24 setbacks to the Los Angeles Rams and the defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs following their impressive 46-23 win over the Carolina Panthers. Despite the drop in the Buccaneers’ performance, Pro Football Focus analyst Eric Eager downplayed observations that the 43-year-old Brady is starting to show his age.

“I think Brady is playing good football,” Eager told Danny Amendolara, host of CBS Radio’s The DA Show. Eager pointed out that Brady is second in the NFL in passing yards with 3,300 and fourth in passing touchdowns with 28. The veteran quarterback is just 23rd when it comes to yards per attempt with 7.0, but it is slightly higher compared to his 6.6 yards per attempt in his final season with the New England Patriots “I think he’s playing good enough for Tampa if their weapons round into form,” he added. Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans has been Brady’s favorite target as he became the third player to catch double-digit touchdown passes (11 so far) from Brady in a single season. Aside from Evans, the other players who caught double-digit touchdown passes from Brady were Hall of Famer Randy Moss and Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski, per Luke Easterling of USA Today.

Analyst highlights disconnect between Brady, Arians

What concerns Eager the most is the “little bit of disconnect” between Brady and head coach Bruce Arians when it comes to offense. Arians has criticized Brady’s mistakes in their previous three losses, but analysts quickly defended the veteran quarterback, saying the head coach should adapt to his skill set rather than insist on playing the deep ball.

Eager, for his part, said Arians wants Brady to adjust to his system, to which the veteran quarterback having a hard time adjusting, causing him to throw 11 interceptions so far. “I think Brady wanted to be more like Brady,” said Eager, stressing that the quarterback wants a more reliable pass-catching running back to serve as his security blanket, something that Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette both lack.

Eager also believes that Arians should have changed his system a little bit more to adjust to Brady’s skill set. Brady, in a recent interview with Jim Gray, said he has a great relationship with Arians.

Defense must regain its old form

For the Buccaneers to become Super Bowl contenders again, Eager said that the defense must regain its old fearsome form. “If their defense improves back to where they were for them to be a contender,” Eager said. Against the Saints, the Buccaneers defense surrendered 38 points and yielded 543 total yards to the Chiefs, including 269 receiving yards and three touchdowns to wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

Brady’s role in play-calling clarified

Arians recently told Michael Silver of NFL Network that Brady now calls the plays that he likes.

On Wednesday, Dale Arnold, host of the Dale & Keefe Show, provided additional insight on Arians’ statement, saying the Buccaneers go to Brady with play groups and plays for different situations while planning for the game. “Tom says which ones he’s comfortable with, which ones he’s not," said Arnold. During two-minute drill calls on the line, Arnold said the team calls plays that Brady approved of. Arnold said it was the same way during Brady’s tenure in New England, except in the last two seasons.

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