This could not have been the worst timing. What was expected to be their best season in over 20 years, the Bucs are now left wavering in anticipation of what will happen with the 2020-2021 NFL season.
Jason Licht and staff put together a really nice squad in a year that Tampa was set to host the Super Bowl. Along with head coach Bruce Arians, they both proved to the fan base and the Glazer family what they were brought here to do. They could very well bring the Lombardi back to Tampa, in Tampa!
NFL.com put together their list of most complete teams in 2020, with the Bucs sitting at No. 5 ahead of teams like the Cowboys, and even divisional rivals Panthers and Falcons. Only the Saints have a more complete team on the list out of the NFC South.
The Buccaneers appear to now have the depth at offensive line they wanted with drafting Tristan Wirfs and signing unrestricted free agent, Joe Haeg. They have two pro bowl wide receivers, a future Hall of Fame tight end, and now even the GOAT himself.
The offensive line seemed to be the final piece to what appeared to be a complicated jigsaw puzzle. As I mentioned in an earlier article, Brady should be able to offset any remaining gaps the front line still has.
The defense is where it’s at though. As NFL.com columnist Adam Schein writes, “Much has been written about the offense......But the defense is what sells Tampa Bay as a total package.”
In the second half of last season, when the Bucs’ young secondary started to come into its own, this D was top-tier. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh form a brick wall against the run, Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul hunt quarterbacks off the edge, and Lavonte David and Devin White comprise the best linebacking duo in the game.
Consider this. Shaq Barrett was the NFL sack leader in 2019. Devin White and Lavonte David combined for 140 tackles, which David was tied for 12th best in the league with 82. The only concern has been over a young and struggling secondary.
Bucs Nation’s David Harrison recently wrote, “Communication is the key to Buccaneers’ secondary improvement.” He further mentions the turn around last season from being the sixth-worst in the league with 29 passing touchdowns to only allowing 4 since Week 10. A sign of improvement for the young Todd Bowles squad.
One of the more compelling stories of the off-season has been over the tight ends. How can you have three starting tight ends? Easy, move to a three tight end system.
In a PFT article posted on NBC Sports, there is a possibility of using three tight ends on the field at the same time.
...Putting Gronkowski and another tight end on the field with wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin presents an array of options, and a versatility new quarterback Tom Brady will be familiar with from his days with the Patriots.
Sounds like they’re getting creative for what’s bound to be a very exciting 2020 season.
It’s all about depth. As our own Bailey Adams discusses in his 2020 tight end position preview, the depth they have at tight end will keep the Bucs as one of the most complete teams in the NFL.
Tanner Hudson, who was the star of the 2019 preseason, played in nine games—partly due to Auclair’s injury—and caught two passes for 26 yards. In the season finale, Codey McElroy caught a 30-yard pass, marking his lone catch and lone target of the year.
Then there’s the running back position. There was a lot of talk during the off season about what the Bucs will do with the running back situation. Some would argue that there wasn’t a situation to deal with at all, but many fans, and some analysts, would disagree.
There were rumors swirling about signing Melvin Gordon and Devonta Freeman, which neither obviously came to fruition.
The Bucs started the 2019 season with Peyton Barber as their starter. He ended the season with a disappointing 470 total scrimmage yards, finishing 40th in the league. Definitely not a fan of fantasy owners.
Barber shared carries with rising star, Ronald Jones II. The Bucs ended the season with “RoJo” as their starter, whom is now expected to be the 2020 starter along with third-down back, Dare Ogunbowale.
Bailey broke the running back position down in his 2020 running back position preview. Jones ended the season with impressive numbers which won him the starting position for the Bucs.
After a mess of a rookie season in 2018, Jones bounced back in a big way in 2019. He went over 1,000 yards from scrimmage, rushing for 724 yards and six touchdowns on 172 carries (averaging 4.2 yards per carry) while catching 31 of his 40 targets for 309 yards.
As many of us know, Brady is used to playing with fairly average running backs. He’s never played with a high velocity workhorse, nor has he needed to. He’s very utilitarian when it comes to using his backs from the quick screen to the over-center dump pass. Of which I’m sure Leftwich and Arians have plenty of plans to take full advantage of.
The 2020 Bucs will have the hardest schedule they’ve seen in years with match ups including the 2019 NFC North Division champs, and Super Bowl LIII Champion Chiefs. Both of which are scheduled at home.