In October 2020, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians huffed and puffed about the consequences of a single Antonio Brown screw up. And when he screwed up, as he inevitably would, Arians didn’t blow Brown’s house down.
After Sunday’s 32-6 win over the Panthers, during which quarterback Tom Brady targeted Brown 15 times (10 catches for 101 yards), Arians revisited his past remarks with Peter King of Football Morning in America.
“When you and I talked last year, we were talking on old experiences with Antonio,” Arians told King. “When he came back to us, he was a model citizen. There was a new history. I really loved the way he tried to fit in, worked his way in and gave us everything he had to go to the Super Bowl. My whole attitude on him changed. I saw him trying to be a better human being. So I’ve got a totally different relationship than when it was when you and I talked last year.”
One aspect of the relationship remains constant, however. It’s the dynamic driven by Brady. Arians didn’t want Brown; Brady did. Brady eventually got what he wanted. If Brown had made a misstep last season, it would have created an intriguing dilemma for Arians. With a Super Bowl ring and Brown re-signed as a free agent after a successful 2020 stint, things are indeed different.
But the connection with Brady remains the same. As evidenced by the fact that Brown suited up for the first time in 10 weeks and Brady aggressively threw the ball Brown’s way. So, no, Brown goes nowhere until Brady says so. With injuries to the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin making Brown even more important to another Super Bowl run, Brady will want Brown to be nowhere other than where he currently is.