TAMPA- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on the cusp of going into the postseason and defending its Super Bowl championship they won almost a year ago, 31-9, over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It might be more difficult this time around, however, as the Buccaneers are sustaining injuries that they didn’t have to deal with in last year’s championship run. The team will need numerous players to step up to new roles throughout the playoffs. One person who is no stranger to ever-changing environments is 44-year old quarterback Tom Brady. The road will start against the Philadelphia Eagles at home on Sunday.
Brady led the National Football League in a multitude of passing categories including yards (5,316), touchdowns (43), and completions (485) and this is all at the age of 44.
The rest of Tampa Bay’s offense has undergone some major changes. The lack of Chris Godwin (ACL tear), Antonio Brown (released), and Cyril Grayson (hamstring injury) has hurt the Buccaneers’ offensive efficiency.
This has required Brady, wide receiver Mike Evans, and tight end, Rob Gronkowski, to pick up some of the slack, and some other players will get the opportunity to blossom in the postseason. Wide receiver Breshard Perriman is expected to have an increased role, along with Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and the newly signed John Brown. Tampa Bay will welcome back running backs Leonard Fournette and Giovanni Bernard from the injured reserve list. The team will also get back defenders LaVonte David and Jason Pierre-Paul from the injured list.
The Buccaneers (13-4) will start their championship defense against the Eagles (9-8) who enter the game with the NFL’s top rushing offense and are no strangers to playing Tampa Bay. Week 6 on the road in prime time, the Buccaneers were able to sneak away from Lincoln Financial Field with a 28-22 victory, and Tampa Bay was banged up then.
The Eagles’ top rushing attack will go head to head once again with the Buccaneers’ top-ranked run defense, with Philadelphia racking up 159.7 yards per game. Leading the way under center is quarterback Jalen Hurts and he led the team in not only passing but rushing as well. Hurts threw for 3,144 yards and also ran for another 784 with Miles Sanders was right behind him with 754. Tampa Bay’s secondary will still need to be wary of top wideout DeVonta Smith, who has 916 yards.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.