Let’s preview what the Buccaneers did in the off-season to secure the hype.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hype Train: Is It Legitimate?
As many expected, the Tampa Bay Buccanneers finished 2019 with a 7-9 record. Thus, the team offense ranked as a top-tier unit in the league. Wide receivers Chris Godwin and Breshad Perriman had career years. Once again, Mike Evans made the Pro Bowl. The running game became a serviceable unit. Notably, Jameis Winston struggled mightily in 2019 by throwing 30 interceptions to 33 touchdowns. Winston threw a pick-six to end Tampa Bay’s season in Week 17 versus the Atlanta Falcons.
In 2019, the Buccanneers defense ranked 29th in total defense. However, two areas of the defense really stood out; the pass rush and the defensive line. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense ranked first in rushing yards allowed per game and eighth in sacks. Shaquil Barrett had a career year by leading the NFL in sacks with 19.5. In contrast, the secondary could not hold their ground. They were third-worst in the league in passing yards allowed.
2020 Free Agency/Draft
The most important and eye-opening move came for the Bucs on the offensive side of the ball. The Tampa Bay Buccanneers knew they had to make a change at the quarterback position. Quarterback Jameis Winston didn’t re-sign with the team. This made the Buccanneers look elsewhere. The most notable free-agent quarterbacks were Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady.
The Bucs had a wide selection of quarterbacks to choose from. Ultimately, they settled on 4x super bowl MVP Tom Brady. Brady would now finally have a great one-two punch at wide receiver to throw to. Although, concerns have been raised about Brady’s age. He is 43 years old. Does Tom Brady still have something left in the tank?
After that, another notable move would follow. The Buccaneers traded for former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski was one year removed from football, focusing on WWE. Tom Brady was begging head coach Bruce Arians to acquire him. Though, there is a risk. Rob Gronkowski has been injury-prone throughout his career. Undoubtedly, he’s a threat on the field. But, Gronkowski hasn’t played a full season since 2011. Quite scary.
Adding to the offense, veteran running back LeSean McCoy was signed to a one-year deal. It’s unknown if he has something left in the tank. Luckily, he will not be the lead back.
On September 6, the Bucs signed 2017 fourth-overall pick Leonard Fournette. Fournette has disappointed as a former 1st rounder. He has battled injuries. Not to mention, he hasn’t been consistent on the field. As of now, Fournette is your average running back.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers knew if they wanted to compete, they’d have to fill some more holes via the NFL Draft. With the 13th-overall pick, the team decided to draft Iowa offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs. Right tackle Demar Dotson left via free agency, so the hole was filled.
To add to the secondary, the Buccaneers used their second-round pick on Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield.
Then, the Bucs added depth to the running back room by drafting Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. To add to the receiving core, the team used their fourth-round draft pick on Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson. Very much so, Johnson can become a starter and threat soon enough.
Is The Buccaneers Hype Train Legitimate?
This season, the Tampa Buccaneers are tied for having the 16th-toughest schedule in the NFL. Aside from their own division, the Bucs will have to face the NFC North and the AFC West. Tough opponents lie ahead in the Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings. Will the young cornerbacks be able to defend the talents of Davante Adams, Adam Thielen, and speedy Tyreek Hill?
I believe that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hype train is not serious. It will fall like the Cleveland Browns hype train did just last season. There are legitimate concerns on the roster.
Most importantly, is Tom Brady a shell of himself? Most likely he will have to be carried by the receiving core.
Rob Gronkowski has big questions surrounding his health. Gronkowski did take a year off of football. Gronkowski was a shell of himself in 2018 with his production dropping off. As previously mentioned, he hasn’t played a full season since 2011. He will probably be the number one feature tight end, Not to mention, another tight end in the league didn’t have a great year back in 2019.
That was Jason Witten. Witten returned to the Dallas Cowboys in 2019 after being a part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast. Witten was barely seen as a threat last year. Expect Gronkowski to be like that.
Questions also surround the secondary. The Bucs’ secondary was the third-worst in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game. Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting are young but not defensive staples. Still, they have a lot of learning to do.
Not to mention, their running back core is merely average. It consists of Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and Leonard Fournette.
I think the Buccaneers will be an 8-8 or 9-7 team. They won’t be terrible, but there are some questions and concerns surrounding the roster as a whole.
Embed from Getty Images