Bruce Arians throws some bouquets at Tom Brady

The Buccaneers didn’t play in Week 13. Which means that there was no reason for Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians to directly criticize (a/k/a be honest) or to passive-aggressively snipe at quarterback Tom Brady. Instead, Arians heaped praise on Brady.

“It’s been fantastic,” Arians told reporters when asked about working with Brady. “From day one, getting him here [and] watching him prepare and help young players get better. He’s a joy to coach and he’s a fantastic competitor. I love that about him. He’s been there and done it and he’s helped so many of our guys who haven’t [been there] believe that they can. That’s a huge part of it and I couldn’t ask any more out of him.”

Arians also praised Brady’s overall ability to show up and work every day, despite being 43.

“I don’t see any drop at all,” Arians said. “I’ve had some veteran guys that needed Wednesdays off and he’s not one of those guys. He’s amazing that way and how he takes care of himself. He’s helped a lot of young players learn about taking care of themselves also.”

Brady’s leadership and experience likewise was praised.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Arians said. “I’ve been very, very fortunate with some of the best quarterbacks that all have that. Every single one I’ve probably ever coached have had that ability. Peyton [Manning], Ben [Roethlisberger], Andrew Luck as a rookie was amazing. Tom [Brady], Timmy Couch, Kelly Holcomb — every one of those guys that were successful. When they got in the huddle, they had the ability to make everybody believe that this is the best play that’s going to be called and run. Then, walk off, work with guys, take them to the side, work with them and bring them along. All those great ones do it.”

Arians also didn’t take the bait when asked whether he’s frustrated with the offense’s inability to properly execute the scripted plays to start the game.

“I think the big thing is [that] third down has been a problem, so one of the ways to fix it is make first downs on first and second [down] and stay out of third down,” Arians said, being a positive as he could be. “But when we do have manageable third downs — knock on wood, we’ve been playing pretty penalty-free — that we convert those third downs and keep the chains moving to get that rhythm. When we get in the rhythm, we’re pretty good.”

They haven’t been as good as they need to be; otherwise, their record would be much better than 7-5. The question is whether, in the most critical month of December, they can find a way to go 3-1 or 4-0.