This NFL season is certainly one of the strangest in recent memory. Across the league, it feels like everything has been shaken up and there have been massive changes on the roster of most teams. While no one expected to see Andy Dalton on the Dallas Cowboys, or Cam Newton on the New England Patriots, certainly one of the most interesting changes is Tom Brady now leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After the Buccaneers went 7-9 last year and 5-11 the year before that, we know any drastic change could have the potential to turn things around here in Tampa Bay. Of course, Brady now at the helm dramatically changes the NFL betting odds for this team. While they started the season as somewhat of a mixed bag as everyone got into a rhythm, the Buccaneers have now entered the midway point of the season as one of the most fearsome teams in the league.
Analysts Have Their Eyes on the Buccaneers
It’s safe to say that the Buccaneers have captured the attention of analysts around the NFL. When the season began, everyone was busy studying the team on every down, wondering how Tom Brady would bring it all together. Of course, there has been a constant debate surrounding Brady and the Patriots as some fans suggest that Brady was only so successful because of Bill Belichick, others have said without Brady, the Patriots would never have won so many Super Bowls. This season is finally helping to put these arguments to rest.
How Have the Buccaneers’ Offense Improved Under Brady?
While there was certainly a process of adapting and having the team come together, overall it’s clear that Brady has brought the best out of the offense here in Tampa Bay. After a big 38-10 win over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Buccaneers kept the momentum flowing and had another big win over Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders. With the team now sitting at a comfortable 5-2, let’s review what aspects are making this offense so dominant.
On the Patriots, Brady was often a one-man team, offensively speaking. He was tasked with making a play happen on every down. As he gets older, it will become crucial to break up offense more between rushing and passing attempts to take some of the pressure off of Brady. This is more or less what we are seeing in Tampa Bay. Instead of being the constant pocket passing threat that Brady has built his career around, we are seeing more rushing attempts and a solid offensive line protecting the passer. Never before in Brady’s career has he really been able to trust in and rely on his running backs, but we’re finding that the Buccaneers have a lot of talent across the board.
The Buccaneers have always had some underrated weapons that were not being fully utilized by their last quarterback, Jameis Winston. With a proper quarterback now making the passes, we’re starting to see receivers like Chris Godwin, Scott Miller and Mike Evans in a new light. Despite missing several games from injury, Godwin has been very productive. Recently in the Raiders game, Godwin was caught all 9 passes that were thrown to him, for a total of 88 yards and a touchdown. In the same game, Scott Miller returned 109 yards and 1 touchdown. Brady is helping these players put on their absolute best performance every game.
Of course, another big story of the league was Brady coaxing his absolute favorite target, tight end Rob Gronkowski, out of retirement. During his time with the Patriots, Gronkowski became one of the most dominating and feared tight ends of all time. Although he has slowed down in his later years, this season he has still managed to return 280 yards and 2 touchdowns, showing that he is still productive. The dynamic combination of Brady and Gronkowski is starting to heat up and we can be sure that the best is yet to come.
As previously mentioned, for this first time in his career, Brady can really rely on his running backs. The synergy that is happening on this team between the rushing and passing core is amazing to watch. Ronald Jones may be having a breakout season, with multiple 100+ yards performances. LeSean McCoy also joined the Buccaneers this year on a one-year contract. McCoy of course was phenomenal during his time with the Buffalo Bills and certainly was crucial to their offense. While he has not had much time on the field yet, he adds depth to the position. Leonard Fournette is also another strong running back option for the team.
Right now, it could be said that Tom Brady has more offensive weapons around him than ever before in his career, even when considering his numerous Super Bowl victories. On one hand, it’s hard to imagine this team becoming even more dangerous, but the recent addition of receiver Antonio Brown may end up taking this team to another level. Despite his off-field drama, no one can deny that Brown is an exceptional talent. Brady has been pushing for months to have Brown signed and now that he has finally gotten his way, it will be interesting to see how Brown is utilized.
How is the Defense Looking This Season?
The Buccaneers defense has proven thus far to be a hard line to play against and demonstrate that this team is not just the Tom Brady show. In fact, the offense and defense coming together makes up one of the league’s most complete teams. As things start to heat up in Tampa Bay on both sides of the field, it’s starting to look like this team is the real deal and a possible Super Bowl contender.
After a devastating loss to the Bears earlier this season, the team has since had a strong rebound. When it came time to play against the Packers, the objective was to run a hard-hitting and aggressive style of football and make the Packers earn their respect. After the Buccaneers fell behind to 10-0 in the first quarter, it was the moment where the defense needed to step up and they certainly did. The coach sent the word out to let loose and start turning up the pressure.
In the second quarter, cornerback Jamel Dean jumped a route against Davante Adams and picked off a pass, returning it for a 32-yard touchdown. After this play, the momentum was sucked right out of the Packers’ offense and the Buccaneers began to take over. Rodgers threw another pick on the next series, and overall he was hit 13 times. The Packers run game was completely stuffed as well. Against the dominating Packers offense that has other teams in the league hiding, the Buccaneers emerged victorious 38-10. This is not a defense that you want to be up against. With the Buccaneers now firmly at the top of most NFL power rankings reports, things are clearly going well in Tampa Bay.