The Tampa Bay Buccaneers did exactly what they set out to do almost 2 months ago and won Super Bowl LV after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to raise the Lombardi Trophy for the second time in franchise history. In the process, they prevented the Kansas City Chiefs from defending their Super Bowl title.
Now, it’s the Bucs turn to try and “run it back”; and as they learned after their 2003 championship, it can be a difficult task to accomplish. They retained most of their roster and opened the following season with a 17-0 victory, and spoiled the regular-season debut for the Eagles in their new stadium after shutting down their previous one. Unfortunately, the following season ended in a disappointing 7-9 record after a string of injuries. Can they do what hasn’t been done since the 2003-04 New England Patriots?
So far, the Bucs have already checked the same first box that the Patriots did, and that’s Tom Brady. He is now in his second season in Tampa after signing a two-year contract last season. The entire starting offense should be coming back and have more time in the same system; completely opposite to the way it began last season when the COVID pandemic struck and made it extremely difficult for the new players to become acquainted with one another. But Brady and his new offensive weapons went against the grain and held private workouts at Berkeley Prep down the road from their facility. This doesn’t guarantee success, but it’ll definitely help the offense hit their stride earlier than last season. Remember the words Brady spoke before the Super Bowl?
“I think next year is going to be a lot better than this year. I feel like I’ll be in a much better place mentally. I’m going to train a lot better physically next year. I’ll be in a better place. I know as soon as this game ends, we’re on to next season.”
And as Brady showed, he was back to work the day after the Bucs championship boat parade filled with avocado tequila and a boat-to-boat toss of the Lombardi Trophy.
Retain the core of the team
As stated previously, retaining the core of a championship roster doesn’t guarantee you’ll “run it back” but it’s definitely a great place to begin. The Bucs were able to bring back players such as Chris Godwin, Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Raheem Nunez-Roches, Kevin Minter just to me a few. As of this moment, the team and Antonio Brown haven’t reached a deal. Again, this isn’t guaranteeing anything but the Bucs definitely have become favorites.
- Remain healthy
The Bucs did a pretty good job of this throughout the season, with a few players missing a game or two for different reasons. Given the Bucs’ previous track record with injuries, it was definitely a surprise to only have a couple of players who found their way to the injured reserve compared to previous seasons. The Bucs had six players start all 16 regular-season games, including Brady, Gronkowski, Mike Evans, and three offensive linemen, and seven on defense started at least 15 or 16 games (Carlton Davis-14, Sean Murphy-Bunting, and Jamel Dean flopped on the depth chart, starting 16 games between the both of them). At the time of the Super Bowl, the Bucs had all 11 starters from Week One on the field. Hopefully, the Bucs can remain fortunate throughout the 2021 season as well.
- Add a few more role players and some depth with the 2021 draft.
The Bucs did a great job selecting players in last year’s draft when they drafted Tristan Wirfs and Antoine Winfield Jr, who both made the PWFA All-Rookie Team, with Wirfs being named to the All-NFL Team by one prominent NFL analyst. Wirfs played every offensive snap in 2020, allowing just one sack, while Winfield played 98% of the team’s defensive snaps (only missing the NFC Championship Game with an ankle sprain). Unlike the 2021 Bucs, the Patriots weren’t able to retain all-22 starters as they did lose two linemen via free-agency but did acquire a huge (literally) reinforcement when they drafted Vince Wilfork in the first-round, who would eventually become a star while making five Pro Bowls.
If they are successful in these areas, the Bucs could easily be the first team to repeat since Tom Brady and the Patriots in 2003-04. With Brady under center, it’s hard to argue that the seven-time Super Bowl Champion could indeed raise Lombardi number eight while bringing the Bucs their third.