Who are we kidding? Of course you’re not.
On Tuesday, ESPN staff writer Bill Barnwell released a list in which he ranked each team’s offensive weapons from worst to best (ESPN+ subscription required). Unsurprisingly, Tampa Bay checked in at No. 1. As Barnwell put it:
“Nobody in the league combines Tampa’s combination of top-level talent and supreme depth. Bruce Arians’ team has a true No. 1 receiver in Mike Evans. The guys behind him are massively overqualified for their roles; it’s an embarrassment of riches to have Chris Godwin as a second wideout and even a limited version of Antonio Brown as the No. 3. Scotty Miller would be a burgeoning starter for some teams; here, he’s a No. 4 who averages 9.5 yards per target.”
Obviously, the Bucs’ strength is their depth at wide receiver. And in a list that was admittedly compiled by giving more weight to the wide receiver position than the running back and tight end positions, it was always going to be Tampa Bay on top. Having the trio of Evans, Godwin and Brown is impressive enough, but to have those three flanked by Miller, Tyler Johnson and even Justin Watson and rookie Jaelon Darden? That simply doesn’t seem fair.
As for the rest of the weapons on the Bucs’ offense, Barnwell had this to say:
“The Bucs might not be quite as impressive at the other spots, but their starters at running back (Leonard Fournette) and tight end (Rob Gronkowski) were legitimate difference-makers during the postseason. They’re also blessed with deep depth charts at both spots, given that Fournette will be spelled by Ronald Jones and Gio Bernard, while Gronkowski will split time with Cameron Brate and the returning O.J. Howard. You could make a case for the Cowboys at No. 1 if you think Elliott is still a superstar back, and the Titans have a more impressive top three, but I think the Bucs are as good as it gets for skill-position talent.”
Ignoring the fact that Fournette is assumed to be the starter here, it’s true that there’s plenty of depth at both running back and tight end, just like there is at receiver. With Jones, Fournette, Bernard and a potential breakout candidate in Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Bucs have a sneaky good backfield. And at tight end? Wow. With a future Hall of Famer in Gronkowski, a consistent threat in Brate and a guy with potential as high as Howard’s, the Bucs’ tight end room is unmatched.
It’s been quite the rise for Tampa Bay, especially on the offensive side of the ball. In 2019, the Bucs’ offensive weapons were ranked 19th-best in the league. Last year, they were up to fourth. And now, they’re the top dogs.
All offseason, we’ve heard about how good this Bucs team is on paper. Tampa Bay got the job done last year and enters 2021 having won eight straight games. But will all of this talent come together again to keep the Lombardi Trophy for another year? It won’t be long until we find out. There are only 50 days until kickoff.