Seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady says that despite a new coach, continuity gives the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a great chance at a second NFL crown in three seasons.
The superstar quarterback, who turns 45 in August, spoke Thursday after the end of a mandatory mini-camp, saying a familiar roster around him should produce another deep playoff run after a 2020 NFL title and playoff loss last season to the eventual champion Los Angeles Rams.
"This should be in my opinion our best opportunity to play our best football because we've been together the longest," Brady said. "We know each other, we know the scheme, we've been through a lot of challenging circumstances in games and now we've got to go out there and execute it as well as we possibly can."
Brady, who retired in February only to announce his unretirement 40 days later, said the unpadded workout sessions ahead of July's start of pre-season training camp helped strengthen bonds forged over the past two years, from blockers and rushers to receivers and Brady himself.
"It feels good. You know what those guys are capable of," Brady said. "They have a high expectation for their play. The more you've been in the trenches with those guys, the more you know what they're all about. The more of those guys you have who can play at a championship level, the better it is."
For the 2022 season, Todd Bowles takes the head coaching job after the retirement of Bruce Arians.
Some off-season reports hinted Brady returning might have sent Arians into a consulting role but Brady denied they had any issues.
"Zero whatsoever," Brady said. "He and I have a great relationship. Part of why I chose here was because of Bruce. I mean, he and I have been -- incredible communication -- and I have great respect for him."
Moving into the head coaching job was Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a Super Bowl winner as a player, executive and assistant coach. The former New York Jets head coach had masterminded tough schemes to test Brady during his 20-year run with New England, where he won six NFL titles.
"We have a great relationship," Brady said. "He's very detailed, really tough, hard-nosed coach. A little bit of a throwback."
Asked about reports of talks with the Miami Dolphins during his days retired, Brady didn't deny having conversations, but said he had secured his future in football with a deal to become a television commentator once his playing days were over.
"I had a lot of conversations with a lot of people," Brady said. "I have for the last three or four years of my career, about different opportunities when I'm done playing football, so, I kind of made a decision.
"For me, the most important thing is where I'm at now and what I hope to do for this team."
- 'High expectations' -
Brady wouldn't mind seeing one more familiar face in tight end Rob Gronkowski, who hasn't committed to next season.
"We'd all love to play with him, but he's got to make the best decision for himself, and he knows that," Brady said. "We don't have training camp for about six weeks so whatever he's got (time) to figure it out."
And with or without "Gronk" as a target, Brady has great expectations.
"I'm happy I'm back with my teammates and it's going to be a great year," Brady said. "We have high expectations for what we're trying to accomplish.
"Got a lot of good players. Doesn't matter much. We've got to go out and do it. We've got to go earn it.
"The season has already started. You're competing every day out there. You're either getting better or you're getting worse."