The 2021 NFL season has concluded and the league has crowned a new champion. No that champion was not the Buccaneers this year, but the Los Angeles Rams were able to get the job done and win the Super Bowl. These two teams have climbed a similar mountain while reaching the top and both teams may have discovered a new way franchises will build their clubs.
Former top pick out, established veteran in
Let’s start by looking at what the two teams did at quarterback to help them reach the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers selected Jameis Winston number one overall in the 2015 NFL Draft and there were many expectations that came with his arrival. Winston could never get rid of the turnover bug and after five seasons with the team, he was out in Tampa Bay.
A year later, the Rams struck a deal with the Titans to move all the way up from 15th overall to the top pick, giving up multiple draft picks in the 2016 and 2017 drafts. The Rams would select Jared Goff with that pick and Goff was given the keys to the offense. After a rough rookie year, Goff was able to establish himself in the league once Sean McVay was hired as the Rams head coach but after a few disappointing playoff exits, the Rams decided it was time for a change.
In March 2020, The Buccaneers signed Tom Brady to be their signal caller and allowed Jameis Winston to walk in free agency where he would sign with the Saints a few months later. The Bucs needed a top tier QB and they got the best one on the market that year.
On January 31, 2021, a week before the Bucs and Tom Brady would play in the Super Bowl, the Rams agreed to a deal with the Lions that would send Mathew Stafford to Los Angeles for a package of draft picks and Jared Goff. The Rams had dumped Goff for Stafford as they looked to make their Super Bowl push.
Both Brady and Stafford would enter the first seasons with their new teams with a lot of questions from the media on just how it would work. It would be up to them to find success in a brand new system in year one.
Taking advantage of the market with a disgruntled receiver
By mid season of the 2020 campaign, the Bucs receiver room was really banged up and they decided to look for some reinforcements and found that in Antonio Brown. Brown had not played football at all in the 2020 season before signing with Tampa and he was still serving an eight game suspension. When Brown was able to suit up and play for the Bucs, it took a little bit of time for him to get going but the last few weeks of the season were some of Brown’s best in a Bucs uniform as he caught four total touchdowns in the final three games of the regular season and caught a touchdown in the Wild Card game vs Washington as well as catching a touchdown in the Super Bowl. The signing of Brown was questioned at the time, but it paid off in a big way for Tampa Bay in 2020.
In November of 2021, the Rams took a similar approach with WR Odell Beckham Jr, singing him to a one year deal. Beckham Jr essentially forced his way out of Cleveland and many wondered whether he was even still the same player he was a few years ago. After a few slow starts just like Brown, Beckham caught fire catching seven touchdowns in twelve games with the team, including one touchdown in the Wild Card and one touchdown in the Super Bowl, just like Brown did. The Rams really needed Beckham Jr to step up as Robert Woods suffered a season ending injury in practice on Beckham’s first day as a Ram. OBJ gave Los Angeles another option that they could rely on during their playoff run.
No place like home
This is more of a coincidence than anything, but it is hard to discuss these two teams without mentioning that they both won the Super Bowl in their home stadium. It took a team 55 years to host a home Super Bowl and it has now happened in back to back seasons. The Buccaneers will always be remembered as the first team to do it, but the Rams will be mentioned as well in NFL history.
There are many more similarities between the two teams if someone wanted to break down both rosters. There are also some differences though. The Rams seemingly traded away most of their draft assets in order to get veteran superstars while the Bucs kept their picks and attempted to develop those picks into the players that would lead to a championship.
A lot of NFL teams with questions at QB right now have to be looking at how these two teams were built and they are probably wondering if essentially going “all in” is going to result in a Super Bowl victory like it did for the Buccaneers and Rams.
These two franchises may have just changed the way NFL teams are built.