Buccaneers: 3 areas that must improve to be a true Super Bowl contender with Tom Brady
Still, while the addition of the Future Hall of Fame quarterback is big, the team is far from perfect and still needs to work on improving in a few areas before they are true Super Bowl contenders.
3. Run game
The Bucs were one of the worst rushing teams in the league last year. They ranked in the bottom 10 in rushing yards per game and their paltry 3.7 yards per attempt was better than just two other NFL teams.
The team’s running back duo of Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber simply did not cut it last year as the two combined for just 1,194 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
With that being said, Jones, a second-year pro out of USC, showed a lot of promise in year number two after a disastrous rookie campaign. If Jones can continue to build on the relative success he experienced in 2019, the Tampa Bay run game should be much improved.
2. Protecting the quarterback
Tom Brady was never a very mobile quarterback to begin with and at the ripe age of 42, the Buccaneers need to prioritize protecting their new star.
The Tampa Bay offensive line gave up 47 sacks last year and not to state the obvious, but Brady is not as mobile as Jameis Winston.
To be fair, Brady does have great pocket awareness and is excellent at getting the ball off right before the pocket collapses but if the veteran QB is taken down nearly 50 times in 2020, it’s not going to be very pretty.
1. Pass defense
The Buccaneers have invested heavily in their defensive backfield in recent drafts. The team drafted cornerbacks Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean in the second and third rounds respectively last year and selected M.J. Stewart and Auburn product Carlton Davis in the second round in 2018.
So while the Buccaneers clearly recognize their weakness at cornerback, they haven’t been able to put it all together yet.
Last season, the Bucs allowed the third-most passing yards per game (270.1) and gave up a less-than-stellar 30 passing touchdowns.
Davis finished the season with 60 tackles (fourth on the team), Murphy-Bunting led the team with three interceptions and Dean showed the incredible sub-4.3 speed that got him drafted so early so it’s clear that the foundation is there.
Brady had arguably the top pass defensive to rely on last year in New England — he won’t have that next season but if the Bucs can become a respectable pass defense, it could help the team transform into true Super Bowl contenders.