Managing the Buccaneers Expectations: Wild Card Or Bust


Coming into the 2020 NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made some serious changes. With those changes, the expectations for the team quickly escalated to Super Bowl or bust. Were those expectations too high and are they still valid?

Success in the NFL

The NFL is a league where it is always hard to be the best. During its history, there have been only a few dynasties and teams that constantly found themselves at the pinnacle of success. The 1980s and 90s had the 49ers. In the 70s, the NFL had the Steelers. At points in time the Cowboys, Raiders, and Redskins were the teams that all others measured themselves to. Most recently the Patriots have dominated for decades.

Each year the prognosticators, gamblers, and fans projected the Patriots to the Super Bowl and had some expectations that they would win it all. Since the 2001 season, they have won six championships. This is a huge rate of success, but that organization would be the first to tell you just how hard it is.

A Quarterback Change

After announcing in March that he would not re-sign with the Patriots, Tom Brady became the topic of discussion around the league. Where would he end up? Quickly the ties to Tampa Bay matriculated over the internet. Soon it came to fruition. On March 20th, 2020, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom Brady came to an agreement. On that date, the expectations for the team skyrocketed.

When you bring in a six-time Super Bowl champion on a two-year agreement worth $50 million, the expectations write themselves. It was at that moment that the front office, Buccaneers fans, and the rest of the NFL concluded that the Buccaneers were gunning to win it all. It became Super Bowl or Bust!

Additionally, with Brady coming over from possibly the greatest dynasty in all of sports history, the immediate response was one that elevated the Buccaneers to a category they have not been a part of since 2002. After all, there is only one reason for a competitive quarterback to move teams after being a part of an organization for over two decades. It’s to prove that he was the catalyst for their greatness. To prove that, he must lead another team to a championship.


To add to the plethora of weapons already established on this team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Brady got Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement to play again with his beloved quarterback. Now with a prestigious future Hall of Fame quarterback on deck, the Buccaneers coupled him with one of his favorite targets. If some fans did not feel the team was making a push to be the first team to play and win a Super Bowl in their stadium, they were now.

The Reality

The Buccaneers are currently 6-3. Having dropped their second game to the Saints they now sit second in the NFC South. The poor performance last week was remarkably horrid. On top of the loss, questions and concerns are becoming apparent. To win the NFC South, the Buccaneers must surpass the Saints record, especially since the Saints have swept them this season. Given the current outlook for both team’s schedules, they may finish with the same record.

This is where expectations need to be managed at this point. The truth is the Buccaneers are now shooting to win out and hope the Saints lose two more games. This is the only way the Buccaneers come out as NFC South champs.

Outside the division awaits another set of problems. The Buccaneers lost to the Chicago Bears and the Bears now are looking at a wild card slot. If they finish with the same record as the Buccaneers, they hold the tiebreaker. In the coming weeks, the Buccaneers also play the Rams who are 5-3. They too are looking for a wild card spot with the tough division they currently play in.

Ultimately, the Buccaneers “Super Bowl or Bust” was a grand expectation. Reality sets in and this team may have a shootout with other teams to make the playoffs from a wild card spot. If that’s the case, this team must play complete football and eliminate these up and down weeks.

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