Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said he does not understand the criticism of star quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady has enjoyed a topsy-turvy first NFL season in Tampa after ending his successful 20-year association with the New England Patriots.

The six-time Super Bowl champion has 322 completions for 3,496 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions but Brady and the Buccaneers have struggled in losses to the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams.

As the Buccaneers (8-5) eye their first playoff appearance since 2007, Arians leapt to the defence of 14-time Pro Bowler and three-time MVP Brady.

“I don’t know why anyone’s criticising Tom,” Arians told reporters on Wednesday, after Brady finished 15 of 23 for 196 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and no sacks in last week’s 26-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.

“What he did at the end of the half and to start the second half [against] Minnesota — very, very few teams can score 17 points in a matter of five or six minutes.

“If we finished the half with 17 points, I don’t [care] how we start. He’s not getting enough credit for what he’s doing.”

Brady’s tally of 30 touchdowns this season is his most since 2017, when the 43-year-old managed 32.

This is Brady’s eighth season with 30-plus TD passes – the fourth most all-time behind Saints counterpart Drew Brees (10), Brett Favre (nine) and Peyton Manning (nine).

“Offensively, I think Tom [Brady] has had a Pro Bowl year,” Brady added ahead of Sunday’s showdown with the Atlanta Falcons.

The Buccaneers – second to the Saints in the NFC South – guaranteed their second season with at least a .500 record in the last 10 years (9-7 in 2016).

Tampa Bay’s success against Minnesota was the first time the Buccaneers allowed fewer than 20 points in a game since a 38-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week 6.