FOXBORO, MA – With six-time Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP Tom Brady expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after announcing that he is not returning to the New England Patriots, the Buccaneers all of a sudden went from NFC afterthought to a legit title contender.
With much of the sports world on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic and the sports world on hold, Brady taking his talents to Florida’s Gulf Coast and suddenly transforming a 6-10 Bucs team from a 40-1 favorite to win Super Bowl LV to a 22-1 pick over night, via Caesars, that just shows the greatness of who many consider this generation’s greatest player.
In Tampa, Brady will have a bevy of riches in the form of WR’s Mike Evans and Chris Godwin—who will reportedly be giving up his No.12 for Brady—tight end OJ Howard on offense, a hungry and nasty defense led by LaVonte David, Devin White and a quarterback-friendly offense led by former Marshall standout Byron Leftwich.
Below are my five reasons why Tampa and Brady are going to be a problem in 2020.
Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich: As mentioned above, Arians is a veteran Super Bowl-winning coach that has worked with Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and knows how to get the most out of quarterbacks, as his offenses are very pass-happy and QB friendly. In Brady, he will likely ask for short to intermediate crossing and verticals out of him to maximize his potential. In Leftwich, Brady gets to work with one of the league’s brightest offensive minds, and a hot head coaching prospect in 2021. Leftwich also has a Super Bowl ring and knows how to get the most out of players.
A winnable NFC South: With Cam Newton likely gone, Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons showing signs of regression and the Saints having the OTHER 40-year-old quarterback in Drew Brees in New Orleans, the Buccaneers have a very good shot at winning their first NFC South title since 2007. Make no mistake that the South still goes thru the Big Easy and getting to see Brady vs. Brees twice battle it out for division supremacy will be well worth the price of admission.
Playmakers on offense: One of the likely reasons why Brady chose Tampa over the likes of Los Angeles is the arsenal of playmakers that the young Buccaneers have on the outside and at tight end in Mike Evans (1,157 yards, eight touchdowns) and Chris Godwin (1,333 yards, nine touchdowns), who both had 1,000 yard seasons between them. At TE, Brady will have a bruising, sure-handed target in Howard who caught 34 passes for 459 yards and one TD. Tampa Bay is also reportedly looking to bring in one-time Patriots teammate in Antonio Brown–whom also was coached by Arians in Pittsburgh as his offensive coordinator–and if Brady has those kind of targets in Brown, Godwin, Evans and Howard, then the whole NFL has better be on high alert.
Tough and hungry defense: Led by NT Vita Vea, DE William Gholston, linebackers such as the forementioned White and David, Shaquil Barret and Jason Pierre-Paul, the Buccaneers had one of the nastiest defenses in all of football last year as they ranked 1st in rushing defense (73.1 yards per game), but were near the bottom in passing yards (30th, 270.1), points (29th, 28.1) and 15th in yards per game (15th, 343.9). Part of those misleading numbers are due to them being put in rough spots thanks to QB Jameis Winston’s NFL-leading 30 interceptions.
With a more seasoned veteran in Brady not likely to put a talented defense in a bad spot, look for a fresh and revitalized defense to feast on QB’s in 2020.
Brady’s competitive nature to win: Despite winning six Super Bowls, NFL MVP and being considered one of football’s all-time greatest players–and arguably the best quarterback ever–Brady will find something to motivate himself in a new environment. At 43, he is sure to hear the headlines of being “too old” or that he’s running from newly-crowned league MVP, Lamar Jackson in Baltimore or Super Bowl champion and MVP in Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Whatever slight that Brady can use, he will, just as he’s used the slight of being picked 199th overall in the sixth round out of Michigan 20 years ago, a motivated Brady is a VERY dangerous Brady, and perhaps the most feared football player on Earth.
Brady will self-internalize everything and focus on doing business on Sundays as he’s always done for 20 years, and if he needs ANY MORE motivation, the place where he’s playing is also hosting Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium.
Good luck, NFL!