By: Reese Nasser
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020 season was historic to say the least. Led by 43-year old Tom Brady, the Bucs pulled off the improbable. An 11-5 season came to an end with the Lomabardi trophy making its way to Tampa Bay. Everything went right for this team. A near-perfect draft, a solid free agent class, and everything else that needed to happen, happened for this squad.
But a super bowl run is no easy thing to accomplish. Even with the Bucs returning much of their roster, and all 22 starters, another trophy may not be in their future. A team hasn’t won back to back super bowls since 2003 and 2004. Which team was that you ask? The 2003 and 2004 New England Patriots, led by Tom Brady himself.
Would it be impossible for the Bucs to repeat? No, it wouldn’t. But that doesn’t make it any more likely. Here are three reasons why the Bucs won’t be back to the super bowl next season.
More Talent in the NFC
Many other teams have made strides to be better this upcoming season. Either through free agency, the draft, or players returning from injury, the conference will undoubtedly be better than it was in 2020.
When looking ahead, a team such as the Los Angeles Rams, at least on paper, has become much more of a threat than they were last year. The addition of longtime Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford could make this team the true #1 group in the NFC. This squad was 10-6 last season and the addition of Stafford should attribute at least two to three more wins.
The teams that the Bucs face in their own division may prove to be a true problem. While the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons both had down years in 2020, they have proven to be valiant opponents of the Bucs. Both of these teams will also be much improved from last season.
The Panthers will have star running back Christian McCaffrey back in their backfield. McCaffrey, who played in only three games last season, will give this Carolina team at least a chance in every game that they play in.
The Atlanta Falcons have added tight end Kyle Pitts, the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 draft who will look to make an instant impact. He will be put into an offense that has star wide receiver Julio Jones (at least for now) and wide receiver Calvin Ridley. This offense, led by veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, should be explosive and could give this Bucs defense real problems.
And then there is the New Orleans Saints. This Saints team finished first in the division with a record of 12-4. Longtime quarterback Drew Brees has finally stepped away from the game of football and retired. Brees appeared in 12 games last season and had a record of 9-3. In the four games played by the other rostered quarterbacks, the Saints went 3-1. Led by whoever the Saints choose to play at quarterback, most likely being Jameis Winston, this team will still have a valid shot at beating out the Bucs. Star wide receiver Michael Thomas will also make his return. Thomas played in just seven games last season due to a lingering ankle injury. And Alvin Kamara will still be on the team, and that alone makes this offense a problem.
This team will not be getting any younger and at times last season, injuries were an issue. Tight End Rob Gronkowski is 32 years old. Antonio Brown will be 33 come the start of the season. And Tom Brady will be 44. Brady has lasted this long and looked incredible at points last season. His age has not stopped him yet and it might not next season, but there is always a chance.
While a majority of this team is young and has plenty of football in front of them, it can be difficult to dictate how a season will go when some prominent players are getting older. There is no guarantee that injuries won’t derail their 2021 season.
The Likelihood of Making it Back
Simply put, nobody makes it back to the super bowl. Just seven teams in NFL history have gone back to back. As previously noted, Tom Brady did happen to lead a team on back to back trips in 2003 and 2004 but it is something that simply does not happen.
With other teams improving and the Bucs getting another year older, there is no guarantee that this team will play near the level that they did in 2020. As the saying goes, the Bucs may have found “lightning in a bottle” last season. Their improbable run could also have been a thing of luck.
All signs point to this team still being a legitimate threat in 2021 and they will certainly make another run. But it is incredibly hard to win the Super Bowl twice. It’s hard to even return twice. The Bucs will have a target on their back next season and the road to another Lombardi Trophy will be no easy one to go down.