The NFL offseason is always full of predictions, speculation and power rankings. For the Buccaneers, this typically means seeing their names near the bottom of these rankings with very little positive predictions.
You’d think after three straight playoff appearances, two division titles and a Super Bowl championship that the Buccaneers would rank high in these power rankings right?
Oh that’s right, quarterback Tom Brady retired and took all of the talent with him is now the national narrative.
Enter NBC Sports Edge’s Patrick Daugherty with his yearly NFL general manager rankings. Would Daugherty give credit to GM Jason Licht for keeping the majority of a Super Bowl championship roster together for a fourth season? The short answer is, NO!
So what did Daugherty focus on in his assessment of the Buccaneers? You guessed it, Tom Brady, more so his departure.
16. Jason Licht, Buccaneers
“Jason Licht was 34-62 without so much as a playoff appearance in six years before he stumbled upon his One Weird Trick for relevance: signing the greatest player in league history. Tom Brady produced the requisite Super Bowl, but the bill ended up coming due before the meal was even finished.”
“After a strong but Lombardi-less 2021, the Bucs became one of the worst division winners of all time in 2022 as an aging roster with a recycled coach did the same thing over but got a far different result. It wasn’t the definition of insanity considering the previous two years, but it was a collapse easy to see coming in hindsight. The offensive line got worse as the skill corps got older. Lacking premium draft picks or bountiful cap space, the defense was allowed to stagnate. None of this is exactly Licht’s fault. It is now his very large problem with Brady in retirement. Licht’s pre-TB12 track record does not inspire confidence, while his 2023 plan is one of surrender. His Baker Mayfield/Kyle Trask QB combo is passing the buck to the 2024 draft class. Perhaps Licht will get the No. 1 pick and USC’s Caleb Williams. The last time he built around a No. 1 overall quarterback, he went 34-62. What Licht learned during his Brady interregnum will define the next five years of Bucs football.”
Ok, Daugherty may want to take a deep breath here. Giving credit to Licht for that “One Weird Trick” is a strange way to say, “I’ve mailed in these rankings because I’m to lazy to actually do any research or legitimate analysis.” It’s ok Patrick, we get it, analysis can be hard, and actual work is required.
Proof of this lazy analysis starts with his “offensive line got worse” take. The fact is, aside from recently released tackle Donovan Smith, the offensive line actually graded higher in most categories than the previous year. If Daugherty had actually dug a little he’d have seen this and realized maybe it was Brady finally showing his age. Or maybe it was Byron Leftwich being, well Byron.
Taking this into consideration, the aging quarterback has retired, the ineffective coordinator has been fired. Now the team moves forward with a new coordinator and starting quarterback. You know, like any other GM would and has done.
Back to the “One Weird Thing” take. Daugherty must’ve missed the fact that this roster was loaded with talent before Brady arrived. He also must’ve missed how Licht brought back EVERY starter from a Super Bowl winning team, a first in league history. Obviously he missed how Licht brought in any player requested by Brady. And last but not least, he must’ve missed how a team in salary cap hell was able to still retain it’s two most important and valuable free agents in Lavonte David and Jamel Dean. Also to be mentioned, that “One Weird Trick” in Brady wasn’t who held the Chiefs to nine points in the Super Bowl. That sir would be a result of the defense that, wait for it… Licht put together.
It’s almost like Daugherty did zero work on this. Which is the opposite of analysis.