TAMPA- This Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense stepping up at the right time and now they’re heading to Super Bowl LV in their own backyard at Raymond James Stadium.
Sitting at 7-7 in 2019 with a couple of games left in the regular season and it looked as if everything would likely stand pat for the 2020 campaign. Jameis Winston looked to be well on his way to being the returning starter, but two bad starts against the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons ended his time, after the Buccaneers defense played very well down the stretch.
Figuring out who would be the starting quarterback to pair with a young, up and coming defense was the big decision the Glazer family and general manager Jason Licht had to make this past off-season. Winston’s turnovers heavily contributed to putting a lot of pressure on Tampa Bay’s defense on a week to week basis.
Enter Tom Brady, who left his home with the New England Patriots to join the Buccaneers after 20 years playing up north. One thing Brady has been known for is his decision making and not turning over the ball often. Winston’s 30 interceptions obviously didn’t do the Buccaneers any favors in 2019, but Brady dramatically cut down the turnovers in that department going down to just 12 picks thrown.
The strength of the Buccaneers’ defense is the play of their front seven unit, that has stymied opponents all season long. Tampa Bay ranks No. 1 against the run and the ability to adjust the next time against an opponent has also been on notice. In Tampa Bay’s 38-3 loss to New Orleans at home, the Buccaneers allowed 420 yards.
Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his staff made the necessary adjustments to get the Buccaneers in the right position versus New Orleans in the NFC Divisional round and it paid off in a big way. Three interceptions thrown by legend Drew Brees, in which may be his last game as a Saint and just 316 yards allowed.
Tampa Bay was able to end the season for likely league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who threw for 48 touchdowns during the 2020 campaign and just four interceptions. Rodgers threw six interceptions total between regular season and playoffs, three of those belong to Tampa Bay.
The likes of Devin White, Lavonte David, Vita Vea, Carlton Davis and crew will need to erase the memory of losing to this Kansas City Chiefs’ group in Week 12’s 27-24 loss as they are a much different team. Patrick Mahomes is playing at a high level, as he has thrown for 38 touchdowns during the regular season and he has continued that pace in the playoffs. It will be the Buccaneers defense toughest task, but they will need to be up for the final test facing the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV next Sunday.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.