The 2021 Buccaneers are entering uncharted territory as they’ll be the first team in NFL history to really “run it back”. They’re returning all of their starters and have even seen one of the best quarterbacks of all time retire from within their division, Drew Brees with the Saints. So with a full team returning and what may be a weaker division, can the Bucs actually be better in 2021 than they were in 2020? We sure think so, despite the fact that stars like Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Jason Pierre-Paul are another year older. Age does not seem to deter these athletes, so there looks to be more positives to look forward to in 2021 than in 2020 if you’re a Bucs fan.
1. Full year together in the same systemEmbed from Getty Images
Time was an ally to the Bucs in 2020. As the season wore on, the offense got noticeably more in sink. With no pre-season and a thin training camp, Brady and his new team had to learn on the fly. It took at least half the season to get into a rhythm, but they won’t have that issue at all heading into 2021. Not only will there be a pre-season, but the entire offense has been in the same system for a year now. Most defending champs have to deal with incorporating new players into their scheme or hoping that young players step up to take the place of veterans lost during free agency or retirement. The 2021 Buccaneers are able to avoid all of that.
2. The return of O.J. Howard
I wrote more about his return here, but getting O.J. Howard back has the potential to take this offense to another level. They won a championship without him on the field, but will be getting a young, mismatch nightmare at tight end to incorporate for a defense of their title. I expect Howard to emerge at the premier tight end in this offense as Gronkowski and Cameron Brate take a step back. Also, Howard should be fully incentivized to have a break out season as he enters a contract year.
3. Replenished by the draft
Whatever needs they did have after winning the Super Bowl, they had a full slate of picks to replenish this roster. They were able to take edge rusher Joe Tryon in the first round who will now be in the mix with Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre Paul. In an extended season, coming off the back of a short offseason, and looking to make it another long playoff run, the Bucs added depth to this roster in many spots to help ensure they can keep their veteran starters fresh.
4. Last Run
Much of the focus will be on whether or not Tom Brady will play in 2022; however, he’s just one player who may be wearing a Bucs uniform for the final time this year. They won’t have the ability to keep the whole band together next year with free agents like Jason Pierre-Paul, Ryan Jensen, O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, and William Gholston. Many believe that once a team wins the championship, they get complacent the following year, but that could very well be avoided with the 2021 Buccaneers.