How Tom Brady Can Take Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl
He spent 20 seasons in New England and took the Patriots to nine Super Bowls winning six. Now, Tom Brady will take over at quarterback in Tampa Bay. The Bucs haven’t been to a Super Bowl since 2002 and have only made the postseason twice since. That begs the question, “Can Tom Brady take the Bucs to a Super Bowl?”
While starting at quarterback in New England, Brady led the Patriots to 17 AFC East Division titles. The two times that the Pats did not win the division they still finished those seasons with winning records. Between 2011 and 2018, Brady’s Patriots played in every single AFC championship game.
The point here is that Brady is a winner. With him under center, Tampa Bay has a much better chance of making the postseason than not. Compared to last season’s quarterback, Jameis Winston, Brady and his six Super Bowl rings bring hope to the Buccaneers’’ faithful.
Last season, Winston was sacked 47 times, the second-highest total in the NFL. The constant pressure may have had something to do with Winston becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30-plus touchdowns and 30 or more interceptions in the same season.
In order for Brady to take these Bucs to a Super Bowl, it begins up front with the offensive line. Head coach Bruce Arians understands that Brady’s effectiveness will be directly proportional to the performance of his offensive line. Arians knows the importance of the offensive line, so much so that he selected OT Tristan Wirfs with No. 13 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Wirfs should start immediately and help upgrade a line that includes center Ryan Jensen, who many consider to be the best at his position. Jensen is one of the top five highest-paid centers in the league. Guards Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa and LT Donovan Smith all return in 2020.
The Bucs’ offensive line unit will have to be at its best in protecting Brady. Like most quarterbacks around the league, Brady’s performance suffers when he is pressured. Last year in New England, Brady completed just 32 percent of his passes that were thrown when he was under pressure. The offensive line will have to produce a clean pocket for Brady as often as possible. Improving the running game will help as well.
The Tight End
The tight end position will become extremely important for Tampa Bay in 2020. It’s a good thing then that the Bucs went out and brought in Brady’s former New England teammate Rob Gronkowski. He will go nicely with two very talented young tight ends in O.J. Howard (6-6, 251) and Cameron Brate (6-5, 245).
With the Patriots, Brady’s go-to receivers were almost always inside receivers, guys that lined up in the slot or as a tight end. Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman are great examples of slot receivers that were the recipients of hundreds of Brady passes. Howard (34 catches, 459 yards) and Brate (36-311), as well as Gronkowski, should all shine in Arians’ offense.
What will make the tight end go even more is the duo on the outside – Mike Evans (1,157 yards, 8 TDs) and Chris Godwin (1,333 yards, 9 TDs). Evans and Godwin are both big play receivers giving Brady even more weapons in his arsenal.
The one thing that Brady does not have any control over is the defense. Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will have his hands full trying to stop some of the NFL’s best offenses. The Bucs will get NFC South Division rivals New Orleans, Atlanta, and Carolina twice each this year. Those are three potentially scary offenses.
The Tampa Bay defense actually had the league’s best run defense in 2019 allowing opponents just 73.8 yards per game on the ground. Where the Bucs failed was in stopping the pass. Tampa Bay was 30th in the league (270.1 ypg).
The poor pass defense led to the Bucs giving up 28.1 points per game, a number that was 29th in the NFL. That will have to improve in 2020 if Tampa Bay is to have any chance of entertaining a Super Bowl trip this season.
Remember, this is a defense that had the NFL sack leader in Shaq Barrett who totaled 19.5 sacks in 2019. The 47 sacks produced by the Bucs defense was the sixth-highest total in the NFL. A powerful pass rush combined with a stingy run defense is a very good recipe for success.
If the Bucs pass defense, running game, and offensive line play improve there is no reason why Tampa Bay cannot compete for at least a postseason berth. With Brady under center, his experience and leadership, there is no question he could lead them to a Super Bowl.