Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers head into the 2020 season with lofty expectations. After not re-signing former number 1 overall draft pick, QB Jameis Winston, The Bucs signed 6-time Super Bowl champion, former Patriots QB, Tom Brady. Getting Brady came with an added bonus, the team was also able to trade a 2020 4th-rd pick for Brady’s former teammate, TE Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski had previously been retired, but still technically under contract with the Patriots, the team decided to let him follow his QB to the Bay area.
HC Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht have built a team that could give the Saints a run for their money this year in the NFC South. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich’s job should be a lot easier with WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin returning, along with veteran TE OJ Howard to complement Gronkowski. Signing RB LeSean McCoy brings a veteran presence to the RB position, which they have struggled to find quality production from for quite some time. Although RB Peyton Barber left in free agency, McCoy has 4th-year Ronald Jones with him in the backfield. Third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn will also add some depth and skill to the running back position.
First-round draft pick this year, RT Tristan Wirfs will help an offensive line that has struggled recently. The inability to run the football consistently hasn’t just been the men in the backfield. The line has not been able to make space for the backs to run through. Forcing the team to be pass-heavy. Something Winston was not ready for, as he always had the run game to support him at Florida State.
Defensively, coordinator Todd Bowles could have the strongest squad in their division. DE Ndamukong Suh is back, Vita Vea might be the best at the NT position in the league, and DE William Gholston round out the front 3. Behind them, Jason Pierre-Paul signed a 2-year extension this year, and although he’s been in the league since 2010, he is still a top performer on the edge. Even after missing 6 games in 2019, he was still able to amass 8.5 sacks, almost averaging a sack a game.
One the guys in the middle, Lavonte David, has a knack for seeing plays before they happen, while 2nd-year man Devin Bush plays like he’s always been an NFL linebacker. Their secondary is also tough. Bowles will keep it that way. As a former NFL safety, Bowles has high-expectations from his defensive backs. You can tell this by their strength, depth, and attention to the safety position. Mike Edwards and Justin Evans will be the starters, but 2020 2nd-rd pick Antoine Winfield, Jr will make his mark quickly. On the outside, CBs Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting combine for over 100 tackles and 4 interceptions.
The Buccaneers haven’t always had so many reasons to expect success. While the defense has had some stellar names attached to it, such as Warren Sapp, Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, and John Lynch, offensively that list is much smaller. Brad Johnson was a Super Bowl-winning QB, as was Doug Williams, but with Washington. RB Warrick Dunn was one of the best to ever play and Vincent Jackson ended his career in Tampa. But FB Mike Alstott might be the most revered out of the bunch.
An expansion team in 1976, it took the Bucs a year-and-a-half to get their first win. It took them 3 years to get their first winning record. After that, almost 2 decades of losing loomed over the franchise (not counting the strike-shortened 1982 season when they went 5-4). It wasn’t until Jon Gruden was brought in to coach were they able to reach the Super Bowl in 2002.
But since Gruden’s departure in 2008, Tampa Bay has had 1 winning record, and 5 head coaches. Arians was brought in last season hopefully to change that. Bringing Bowles and Leftwich with him, who worked with Arians while he was in Arizona, the culture has already begun to change. Adding Brady and Gronkowski this year, makes 2020 a Super Bowl-or-Bust type of season.