Rejoice! Celebrate! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be featured in five prime time games as well as four “games of the week” in the 4:25 p.m. time slot. The Bucs will be plastered all over television with marquee match-ups against some of the biggest names and most storied franchises in the league.
But is that such a good thing?
There’s no question the Buccaneers have been the focus of the NFL media ever since it was announced that Tom Brady would be joining the team as the quarterback for 2020 and 2021. After that, it was a trade for Rob Gronkowski who was lured out of retirement to rejoin his quarterback in the sunshine state.
Even without the newcomers, the Bucs have the defending NFL sack leader in Shaquil Barrett, they were the only team to have two receivers voted to the Pro Bowl in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and they possessed the hottest defense in the league in the second half of the 2019 season.
Now, the Bucs will be under the bright lights of prime time and the microscope of every fan, every analyst, and every other team in the league when they are paraded around on television for a national audience at least nine times this season.
The pressure mounts.
The Bucs will kick off their season on the road against divisional rival and a Super Bowl favorite in the New Orleans Saints. The top two passers in NFL history squaring off for their first of two meetings and the talk of tv and radio shows will be “what’s wrong with the Bucs?,” if they were to lose this one.
This team hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007 and have the toughest home schedule in the league according to last year’s final standings.
They walked away from their number one pick of 2015 in favor of a quarterback over 40 years old coming up on the end of his career in hopes of utilizing his knowledge, experience, skill, and intelligence to make a run at a championship before their head coach walks away from the game for good, likely before he fulfills the length of his contract. They’ve been the media darlings in a sports-less world for the last two months. They’re trying to unseat the Saints as the dominant force of the NFC South as their quarterback is coming up at the end of his career and they now roster that same number one pick the Buccaneers let walk out the door.
If this team achieves anything less than a playoff appearance, they could go down as the biggest group of frauds we’ve seen in the modern era. Everyone remember the Philadelphia Eagles “Dream Team”? Yeah? How’d that go? So bad that we still bring it up whenever referencing an all-star team that will take the field together week in and week out. There isn’t a single roster that the Bucs will face that holds a clear advantage. There isn’t a single team on the schedule that the Bucs can’t go toe-to-toe with on any given week. The problem is, it’s been that way for a few seasons now and this team constantly and consistently under performs, underachieves, and disappoints. This year has to be different. This year, it has to change. It truly is playoffs or bust - otherwise there will be a lot of questions to be answered about this plan and it may, yet again, result in the blowing up of everything and starting over. That’s what Tom Brady has brought to this team. That’s what the expectations of the fans and media are. Win. Win now. Or, get laughed out of town.
But hey - no pressure.