With the addition of running back LeSean McCoy, you now have experienced Pro Bowlers at every offensive skilled position on the 2020 Buccaneers roster. With the combination of McCoy, quarterback Tom Brady, wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and tight end Rob Gronkowski, you have a combined 10 Super Bowls wins and 29 combined Pro Bowl appearances spread among the five players. The Bucs will never get such a super team on offense. The group of accomplishments far exceeds the defensive core of Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, and John Lynch.
The Intangibles: 2020 Buccaneers vs. 2007 Patriots
Make no mistake, Brady’s inexperience outside Bill Belichick remains a question mark, but the New England Patriots coach never assembled an offense THIS talented around him. This becomes all moot if the offensive line can’t protect the soon to be 43-year-old quarterback. Make no mistake, McCoy is also at the twilight of his career despite having nearly 15,000 combined receiving and rushing yards, making his case for Canton. He provides the Bucs the wildcard and home run threat no one in the backfield has proven to have as of yet. Besides third-round pick Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Bucs have the makings of an effective three-headed beast to take the pressure off of Brady.
Buccaneers vs. Patriots: Running Backs
You can argue the case for the addition of McCoy makes the unit potentially superior to the 2007 Patriots squad that went 16-0. The 2007 team fielded 1,849 rushing yards, which was good for 13th in the league. The leading rusher was Laurence Maroney who ran for 835 yards while Kevin Faulk led running backs with 383 receiving yards. McCoy proved to be at least as dangerous in the air as Faulk averaging 345 yards in the air and 1,006 yards on the ground. Obviously the numbers become skewed given McCoy’s advanced age and a likely running back by committee approach.
When you look at the 2019 Buccaneers with the duo of Evans and Godwin with a far more erratic quarterback in Jameis Winston, they combined for 2,490 receiving yards. The 2007 Patriots leading receiving duo in Randy Moss and Wes Welker combined for 2,668 yards in their record-breaking year. Touchdowns are a no-brainer with Moss and Welker scoring 31 (Moss 23 and Welker 8) to Evans-Godwin’s 17. You also had a 30-year-old Brady versus the 43-year-old one now.
Slot Receiver/ Tight Ends
As far as who emerges as clear number three receiver for the 2020 Bucs, there are hopes Scott Miller emerges for that role given the departure of Breshad Perriman. It’s far more likely tight end Rob Gronkowski takes that role, given the existing rapport with Brady since their days in New England. Even with the year off and injury questions, Gronkowski as he is now barring injury outproduces Ben Watson from the 2007 Pats. Gronk’s worst year on the team was in 2016 in an injury-shortened season with 540 yards versus Watson’s 389 yards in 2007. At 31, Gronkowski per season average receiving is at 873 yards far exceeding wide receiver Donte Stallworth’s contribution of 697 yards in 2007.
There’s also a question of how interchangeable O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate will be as catching threats. Howard’s youth is an advantage, but he’s never played to his first-round status, never reaching 600 yards in a season. Plus, his red-zone production tanked in 2019 to a single touchdown. Brate’s been the more reliable end zone threat. There’s no telling how liberal the tight end position will be under the Arians-Leftwich-Brady offense. The final X factor for the 2020 Buccaneers is how the defense will play. The 2007 Pats ranked fourth under defensive coordinator Dean Pees, and he would win his second Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. The ball is your court, Todd Bowles.