Saturday, December 5, 2020

Tampa Bay: Contenders Or Overhyped?

Tampa Bay plays host to Super Bowl 54 in February. No team has played the Super Bowl in their own stadium before. The Minnesota Vikings came close in the 2017 season but no team has ever made it to the Super Bowl with home advantage.

Tampa Bay won Super Bowl 37 but have never looked close to winning another Super Bowl since.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not played in a play off game since the 2007 season, when they lost to the eventual champions the New York Giants.

Indeed, the last time Tampa Bay won a play off game was the season they went all the way and won Super Bowl 37 in San Diego.

Jon Gruden and Buccaneers players celebrating Super Bowl glory.

However, the Buccaneers have alot of reason to be optimistic as the 2020 season is just a matter of days away.

Tampa Bay won the battle for Tom Brady this off season after the quarterback announced his departure from the New England Patriots and followed this up with also getting tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement after a year out of the league.

Not only did Tampa Bay get the best quarterback of all time. They also got the best tight end of all time.

Will Tom Brady Still Be Able To Perform In His Age 43 Season?

Tom Brady in his new uniform.

It is no secret that Tom Brady is reaching the end of his career and is on the decline. In 2019, Tom Brady threw for his lowest passing yards total in a full 16 game season since 2010. Excluding his 2008 injury filled season, 2019 also saw Brady throw for his fewest passing touchdowns total since the 2006 season.

The 2019 season also saw Tom Brady become frustrated with his lack of receiving options and the Patriots’ offensive options arguably being the worst of Tom Brady’s time in New England.

Brady is now on a Tampa Bay team with excellent receiving options. Not only will Brady have wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin who both had 1,000 yard seasons, but he will also have the tight end options of Cameron Brate, O.J. Howard and old friend Rob Gronkowski.

Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) is congratulated by wide receiver Chris Godwin (12) after catching a pass for a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Brady will also have new addition LeSean McCoy to provide running back competition for Ronald Jones, who combined his rushing and receiving yards in 2019 for over 1,000.

Will Rob Gronkowski’s Year Off Impact His Production On The Field?

Rob Gronkowski is no doubt in my mind the best tight end to play the game, with 7,861 career receiving yards and 79 career touchdowns in 115 career games. Gronkowski sits only behind Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates for most career touchdowns for a tight end. Gronkowski is 36 touchdowns behind Gates but has played 121 games less.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowls during his time in New England.

However, Gronkowski has been out of the league for a year and even when he did play in his last NFL season, he cannot hide that he was on the decline. Despite his crucial play in Super Bowl 53, he was not the same player. It remains to be seen if the year off has given him the rest he needs to be back to his best or if that just masks over his decline.

Tampa Bay are certainly in their best position since winning Super Bowl 37 and Bruce Arians has his best chance to make the Super Bowl for the first time as a head coach. Tampa Bay’s offense gets all the talk for the off season additions but their defence should not be overlooked.

Is it Bruce Arians’ time?

Tampa Bay have pro bowl linebacker Shaquil Barrett who recorded 19.5 sacks in 2019. The Buccaneers’ excellent defensive line includes nose tackle Vita Vea, who is improving on a game by game basis, as well as veteran Ndomukong Suh. Tampa Bay’s run defense was especially impressive in 2019, allowing just 73.8 rushing yards per game and just 1,181 yards all season. This is the lowest they have allowed in any single season.

In conclusion, are Tampa Bay contenders or being overhyped. I believe they have a team capable to really challenge and they have every chance to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Alot depends on how well Brady and Gronk play as they are both at the end of their careers.

Tampa Bay were seen as a quarterback away from challenging with the inconsistencies of Jameis Winston in 2019 so now they have the ‘GOAT’ at their disposal, they surely can compete. This is especially so with their excellent receiving options. Their defence is also brilliant at stopping the run. However, it should be noted that Brady is 43 and may not live up to the hype. I an tipping them to make it to the NFC Championship game but ultimately lose to the New Orleans Saints.

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