The Packers, Dolphins, two-time Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys, Broncos, and finally the Patriots—a team has successfully defended a Super Bowl title eight times in National Football League (NFL) history. When the Patriots last won in 2004, Tom Brady was already the quarterback. The playmaker who keeps outsmarting Father Time can give the Buccaneers another try this season. Let’s see if that already stupidly fat boy’s book can get a little thicker.
Whatever the season, Brady and the Bucs’ mission has already been accomplished. When the quarterback left New England after nearly twenty years and went to play in Tampa Bay, it was stated that the goal was to make it to the Super Bowl in two years. All those involved stated that the second year would probably be more realistic than directly in the first year. After all, the team had to get used to each other. The history is well known: the Bucs train picked up steam from mid-season. The train didn’t stop until a Lombardi Trophy went to Tampa Bay.
The fact that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers assumed in advance that the second year of Brady and his associates would be more promising has everything to do with the vision of the club. Rarely has this vision emerged more strongly than in free agency. The Buccaneers managed to keep all twenty-two players starting in the Super Bowl on board. Lavonte David, Shaquil Barrett and Chris Godwin sign a new deal. Also questioned Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Ndamokung Suh and Leonard Fournette remained. All of this was made possible in part by the contract extension for Tom Brady. The Buccaneers made $19 million in cap space free for next season.
A team holding onto its Super Bowl-winning roster needs little news. Still, running back Giovani Bernard was attracted. Since Ronald Jones II and Fournette are still around, that makes the battle for snaps in Tampa that little bit more interesting.
Where most teams enter the draft with clear missions and gaps to fill, it was different for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That gave head coach Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht an opportunity to further enhance strengths and think about the era after Tom Brady. An already excellent front seven was further enhanced with Joe Tryon, an edge rusher of the Washington Huskies. In the second round, Florida quarterback Kyle Trask got the best learning spot in the NFL: backup and possibly successor to Tom Brady.
Later in the draft, offensive tackle Robert Hainsey (Notre Dame), wide receiver Jaelon Darden (North Texas), linebacker KJ Britt (Auburn), cornerback Chris Wilcox (BYU) and linebacker Grant Stuard (Houston) were added. Hainsey is set to rebuild offensive line depth following the departure of versatile backup Joe Haeg.
The attack was, is and remains loaded. The man who everything revolves around is, of course, Tom Brady. We can’t really write anything about him that hasn’t been said a thousand times before. The Greatest of all Time is assured of a well-trained team around him and in front of him. Center Ryan Jensen quickly built confidence with Brady last year while Donovan Smith also impressed as a left tackle. Between them is Ali Marpet, who allowed not a single sack and only ten quarterback pressures last year. Right guard Alex Cappa returns after missing the Super Bowl run with an ankle injury. Tristan Wirfsenters his second season as a right tackle after an impressive rookie season. In it, he allowed only 24 quarterback pressures.
If the big men give Brady enough time and clean pockets, it will undoubtedly be a feast. In Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, the Bucs still have a fantastic trio at wide receiver. There is also plenty of talent on the tight end. There they have Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate and the returning injury OJ Howard. On the running back, Jones, Fournette and Bernard get to fight out who gets the most snaps. Bernard is probably the back for third down of that trio. He is known as a good catcher.
Defense wins Championships, as we’ve known for years. Tampa Bay proved it again last year. While the offense is strong, it wasn’t the one that blew Kansas City in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs — who still have one of the best attacking formations in the league — didn’t get more than nine (!) points. Patrick Mahomes had to run for his life and never got into his game. The Buccaneers were able to continuously put pressure on the ball and gave the Kansas City receivers very little space.
Who should you start with? The trio of Ndamokung Suh, Vita Vea and William Gholston can compete with the best defensive lines — if they aren’t themselves. The four starting linebackers are even better if possible: Jason Pierre-Paul, Devin White, Lavonte David and Shaquill Barrett. This front seven was good for 48 sacks and 116 quarterback hits last year. They were fourth and second respectively in the NFL.
Prior to the Super Bowl, analysts agreed that the opportunities for the Chiefs would lie in the secondary of the Bucs. It turned out to be a vain hope. While the front defense kept pushing, safeties Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr. along with cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean the field is closed. That bodes well for 2021. The Buccaneers seem to have the most complete defense in the league.
It’s all about the repeat and rarely was there a team better positioned to do it than these Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Super Bowl-winning team remained almost completely intact. When Brady arrived in Tampa, people were already looking forward to the second season with Brady attacking Bruce Arians. The fact that the ultimate goal has already been achieved does not really change that. The big question is: who is going to stop these Bucs? There are obviously new opportunities for teams like the Packers and the Chiefs. Both missed important pawns in the offensive line in the playoffs, which obviously didn’t bode well for the Buccaneers.
However, there is little reason not to believe in these Buccaneers, who should be able to grab the highest seed in the NFC with relative ease. An interesting stop on the way to that goal is week 4. Then Brady and the Bucs visit the Patriots in Foxboro. Interesting detail: There is a chance that Brady will break Drew Brees’ all-time passing yards record during that game. That is something that will happen at least sometime this season, barring an injury. Injuries can of course affect and even disable any favorite. However, if nothing crazy happens in Tampa Bay, the men of Arians will compete again in January for a spot in the Super Bowl.