As with most things, the shiniest object in the room is the first thing that gets noticed. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, quarterback Tom Brady’s light has been so bright it’s blinding.
Whenever a Google search is made with the Buccaneers in the title, the odds that Tom Brady’s name pops up along with the article is pretty high. Which is obviously well deserved. Good luck trying to argue that the Buccaneers ever stood a chance to make the Super Bowl without the “G.O.A.T” behind center.
Now that we’ve given Tom Brady his already saturated appreciation, we’re also here to give credit to the Buccaneers who helped get this team to the mountain top.
Fantasy and Football analysts will continue to drool over what Brady and this dynamic offense have done all year. It’s loaded with marquee names and absolute monsters at each position. You’d expect a group like that to dominate.
On the defensive side of the ball, what defensive coordinator Todd Bowles has done is nothing short of amazing. The moment Coach Bowles entered the scene in 2019 for the Buccaneers, the entire defensive culture changed. Let’s compare and track the path from 2018 to 2020.
In 2018, Mike Smith started the season as defensive coordinator but was ultimately fired after a disastrous showing.
2018 Buccaneers Defensive Rankings
- Passing Defense- 25th
- Rushing Defense – 23rd
- Sacks – 14th
- Interceptions – 28th
In the season to follow, Coach Bowles was given the reins and began his transition to the 3-4 base defense built around a heavy pressure philosophy. That change paid dividends quickly.
In 2019, the Buccaneers’ defense only falters in pass defense as they were working with one of, if not the youngest, secondary in football after drafting Sean Murphy-Bunting, Mike Edwards, and Jamel Dean in the same draft. Developing their handpicked players would be key to this team’s success.
2019-20 Buccaneers Defensive Rankings
- Passing Defense- 30th in 2019. 21st in 2020
- Rushing Defense – 1st in 2019. 1st in 2020
- Sacks – 7th in 2019. 4th in 2020
- Interceptions – 1oth in 2019. 7th in 2020
The improvement defensively resulted in an improvement from 5-11 to 7-9 the next year. Then a jump to 11-5 and now playing in the Super Bowl.
For a little added perspective, here’s the comparison to the last Super Bowl bound defense:
|Year||2020||2020 Stats||2002||2002 Stats|
Buccaneers fans owe Coach Bowles a lot of applause and praise. His defense has not only been crucial to the team’s success but it’s given seasoned fans some sense of nostalgia in watching just a fun defensive performance.
This one might be the most under-appreciated. For years, Buccaneers and their fans would watch every field goal in a pool of sweat. Countless games were determined by a single missed field goal. Worse off, we were eliminated from games early due to a poor kicking performance.
In his first year as a Buccaneer, Ryan Succop has become the most accurate Kicker in Franchise history in Field Goal percentage with 93% of his kicks made. The next most accurate was all the way back in 2001 with Doug Brien at 83.3% (tied with Van Tiffin in 1987).
Let’s understand how remarkable that is for a second. Just like Tom Brady, it’s a massive impact from a player in his first year with the team. Granted the bar is pretty low so the mark isn’t a crazy feat to achieve, but its impact is tangible nonetheless.
Despite the fact that Jason Licht was lambasted by the national media for drafting kicker in the 2nd round in 2016, he was right in emphasizing how important the position would be to the team’s success. He maybe went about it the wrong way, but the point still remains valid.
After this amazing season comes to a close, the Buccaneers will need to look beyond the #12 and see what else factored into the success of this season.
Defensive coordinator Todd Bowles will be getting opportunities for head coaching positions that could lure him away from Tampa. If for some stupid reason he gets overlooked it would behoove the Glazers to offer him an extension with an implication that the Buccaneers’ head coaching job is his after Arians says goodbye.
As for Succop, it’s easy. Ask him what he wants to be paid and then pay him!