By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports writer
TAMPA- Adding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski will spike any team’s expectations for an upcoming season and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have high expectations heading into the 2020 campaign.
Throw in that the NFC South should be as strong as it’s ever been in recent years and this upcoming 2020 NFL season is turning into quite the doozy for the Buccaneers and their division rivals. Replacing the turnover-prone Jameis Winston with Brady was an upgrade that should keep Tampa Bay in every game.
The defense, however, was the side of the ball many around the league were concerned with and they improved in a huge way. Linebacker Shaq Barrett ended up leading the NFL in sacks and was given the franchise tag over the off-season. The entire defensive line has been retained and the Buccaneers even added more secondary help with Antoine Winfield Jr. being brought in as a potential starting safety.
Now the eyes shift over to the Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers for 2020 with the NFC South being must-see football week in and week out. We take a closer look at each club as the summer of 2020 begins and determine what kind of expectations we should have for them. If anything this division should be a lot of fun.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Exit Jameis Winston and enter Tom Brady. 30 interceptions by Winston ended up being the dagger that caused the Buccaneers to let go of the former No. 1 pick of the 2015 NFL Draft and go after a 42-year old quarterback. The expectations for this club also went up when they made the blockbuster trade for tight end Rob Gronkowski and now have the Buccaneers thinking Super Bowl in Tampa. Feasible? Yes.
New Orleans Saints: We now shift our gears to the team that ended up signing Winston in the off-season, as the Saints continue to be the overall front-runners in the division. With Drew Brees committing to another season in the black and gold, the Saints always have a chance with him throwing passes. For Tampa Bay’s sake, they’re hoping some of those go to the other team. Wide receiver Michael Thomas and running back Alvin Kamara round out a special offense in NOLA.
Atlanta Falcons: 28-3 is seemingly all anyone can remember when they begin to think about the Falcons and Super Bowl. The window for Atlanta to make a run continues to dwindle and the hot seat for Dan Quinn gets warmer and warmer. Continuity is what owner Arthur Blank is hoping will bring back a playoff team in Atlanta, but a regressing defense and an offense that runs hot and cold equals uncertain times in the ATL.
Carolina Panthers: Bring on the Matt Rhule era in Charlotte, North Carolina as the former Temple/Baylor coach takes his talents from the college ranks to the NFL. Exiting is the longtime starter Cam Newton and Ron Rivera, as the latter is in Washington and the other is still unsigned. Not many know exactly what to expect out of this team, with Teddy Bridgewater as the starting signal caller. Expectations are low for this group.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.