With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers set to open their 2021 title-defence campaign at home against the Dallas Cowboys, in a much-anticipated Thursday night primetime showdown, one question is knocking about in everyone’s head: Could the Buccaneers be even better this year?
In two days, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take to the field at Raymond James Stadium and open their 2021 campaign against the Dallas Cowboys, in the first instalment of NFL Network’s Thursday Night Football game this season.
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Tom Brady is entering his 22nd season in the NFL and he’s flush off his 10th Super Bowl appearance and 7th Super Bowl victory. He’s showing no signs of slowing down at all, despite turning 44 years of age. And he’s recently penned an extension with the Buccaneers that will see him through 2022, pushing back any notion of retirement at the conclusion of this season.
The Buccaneers and Brady agreed to add an extra season on the two-year deal Brady signed in March last year. And why wouldn’t the Buccaneers want to hang on to Brady for longer after he delivered the franchise’s second Super Bowl and first in 18 years.
Brady took a team that finished 7-9-0 in Bruce Arians first season and turned it into a championship -winning team a year later. Doing so against all the odds, no less, with an unprecedented global pandemic raging in the background. To win a Super Bowl is a tough ask under most circumstances. To do it with a new team and in the midst of a global pandemic is another matter entirely. Utterly mind blowing, it was.
Consider there were no offseason training camps; no preseason games or practices; no team training or in-person meetings before the start of the season that would have allowed Brady to familiarise himself with the organisation, staff and teammates.
What Brady accomplished in 2020 just might be – dare it be said – one of the most impressive feats in sporting history by far. Underscored by the fact that the Buccaneers didn’t have an easy schedule, faced tough NFC opponents on the road in the playoffs, and then absolutely crushed the Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champions and the favourites in the eyes of many.
Going into Super Bowl 55, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at the disadvantage according to the NFL odds trading across sports betting platforms. The Kansas City Chiefs, as the defending Super Bowl champions, were held as the favourites and the team to beat. Practically everyone was high on the Chiefs, from bookies to NFL analysts and media experts. And why wouldn’t they be?
Inasmuch as Brady is the GOAT of football today, Patrick Mahomes is the fresh-faced KID on his way to maturing into one of the greatest players of all time too. What Mahomes accomplished in his first three years in the NFL put him instantly in elite company and earned him comparisons to Tom Brady. So, it was billed as the matchup of “The Kid vs. The Goat”, although the former was winning the battle of the minds.
Tampa Bay’s championship-winning season wasn’t straightforward. The Buccaneers were met with challenges, growing pains and various highs and lows over the course of the 16-game regular season. However, towards the tail-end of their campaign, things fell into place just at the right time, before the postseason got underway. And they rode that momentum all the way to Super Bowl 55 glory.
There were no easy matchups for Andy Reid’s side in the playoffs. All three rounds pit the Buccaneers against tough NFC opponents, including the MVP-inspired Green Bay Packers. But one by one, in clinical and methodical fashion, the Buccaneers met the challenge and rose to the occasion. They took down the Washington Football team 31-23, the New Orleans Saints 30-20 and the Green Bay Packers 31-26m before absolutely crushing the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.
And yet, Tom Brady is not done. Far from it. In an interview with the Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times,, Brady expressed his wish to be in Tampa for “many years.”
“Hopefully, I’ll be here a long time,” Brady told Stroud. “For many years.”
Brady doesn’t want to just play football. He wants to compete at the highest level and continue winning championships. This motivation is key as he attempts to do something that hasn’t been done since he did it with the Patriots in 2003 and 2004: win back-to-back Super Bowl titles.
Towards that end, the Buccaneers have managed to do some shrewd wheeling and dealing to secure all 22 Super Bowl starters for another year. The same group of players that delivered last season is going to go after a second straight Super Bowl.
Another year of playing together under Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles should make this second-year Buccaneers team even better in all facets of the game, surely. Tom Brady and the offense have the potential to be more explosive, while last season’s Top 10 defence could very well be one of the best this season.
As things currently stand, books tip the Bucs as the second-best bet to win Super Bowl 56 at early doors, after the top favourites, Kansas City Chiefs. But a strong start on the season is still needed to cement their value as legitimate contenders because the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers are just some of several top challengers that will be eager to derail Brady and Co., from the elusive double.