For 20 years, Tom Brady played for the same organization, for the same head coach in New England. The six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback knows what having that sort of permanence means for a team playing in January.
"I've always said continuity is key in the NFL," Brady said Thursday, via Scott Smith of the team's official website.
After years of being on the side with greater depth of continuity, TB12 finally finds himself on the other side of the coin. Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been together for 15 years. Brady, meanwhile, is attempting to make a postseason run with a new club, coaching staff, and weapons for the first time in his lengthy career.
Brady noted that it's impossible to prepare for every situation all week. Having continuity and experience together allows clubs to adjust on the fly without missing a beat.
The Bucs have noticeably improved down the stretch. As expected, given Brady is new to the operation and there was no offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it took time for the QB and his weapons -- Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, et al. -- to build chemistry.
Yes, the Bucs didn't face great defenses down the stretch, but that doesn't mean their play wasn't markedly improved, particularly for the 43-year-old QB. After much was made regarding his deep ball during the early stages of the season, Brady began connecting down the stretch. TB12 led the NFL in completions (17), pass yards (594), and pass TDs (7) on deep passes in Weeks 12-17.
Even as they've improved over the course of one campaign, Brady knows it won't come close to the chemistry, and mind-meld Payton and Brees have on the opposite sideline.
Brady also quipped that he has to overcome the age difference between himself and Brees, who turns 42 years old on Friday.
"He's a lot younger than me," Brady deadpanned. "He's 18 months younger than me. Eighteen months ago, I felt a lot better."
The old man's still got jokes.