Wed, 28 Oct 2020

Know your Foe: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carolina Panthers
16 Sep 2020, 21:44 GMT+10

Will Bryan

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past six months, you've probably heard the Buccaneers have a new quarterback.

He is Tom Brady, and since his signing in March, "Tompa Bay" has been one of the most discussed teams in the NFL. With new uniforms, new weapons on offense and head coach Bruce Arians entering his second season with the Bucs, Tampa Bay is aiming for the postseason, a place it hasn't gone since 2007.

2019 Recap

This year's Bucs hardly resemble the team that went 7-9 in 2019, but it's worth taking a quick look at where they came from.

Jameis Winston became the first quarterback to throw for at least 30 touchdowns AND 30 interceptions in one season, a rollercoaster performance epitomized by his matchup with Carolina in London where he threw for 400 yards and a touchdown, but also tossed five interceptions and lost a fumble. Winston has since moved on to New Orleans where he's now the backup quarterback.

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin remain as Tampa's primary receiving threats. They combined for 2,490 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last year, making them one of four wide receiver tandems to each top 1,000 yards receiving.

Running back Ronald Jones returns after he and Peyton Barber, now with Washington, split carries in 2019. Jones had 724 rushing yards and six touchdowns to go with another 309 yards through the air.

Defensively, linebacker Lavonte David has been the consistent rock at the middle of the Bucs defense. Last year, he led the team with 122 tackles while adding three forced fumbles and an interception. Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett was franchise-tagged this offseason after leading the NFL with 19.5 sacks, breaking Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record.

Barrett teams with Jason Pierre-Paul in the pass rush after he produced 8.5 sacks and 16 quarterback hurries in just 10 games last year. Tampa Bay also has defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who made 41 tackles and had 2.5 sacks in 2019.

Key Additions

Tampa Bay signed the 43-year old Brady to a two-year contract in March and sent shockwaves through the football world.

Brady then convinced former teammate Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement. Gronkowski ranks third all-time among tight ends with 79 career touchdowns and joins O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate in an already-talented Bucs tight end room.

Right before the start of the season, Tampa Bay signed former Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, a 2017 top-five draft pick. Fournette ranked seventh in 2019 with 1,152 rushing yards.

The Bucs drafted offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the 2020 Draft, and he replaces long-time starter Demar Dotson, who departed for Denver.

2020 So Far

The Bucs were stymied in their first action of 2020 in a highly-anticipated matchup at New Orleans in Week 1.

Brady threw two interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown, while a banged-up Evans was held to just one catch on four targets.

Jones (66) outrushed both Latavius Murray (48) and Alvin Kamara (16) from the Saints, while Brady (239) tallied more passing yards than Drew Brees (160), but the Bucs' turnovers proved too costly to overcome on the road.

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