While every NFL team enters the season dreaming of Super Bowl glory, it’s simply not a realistic goal for most organizations. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, are firmly in a win-now mode; with the likes of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and, more recently, Antonio Brown, on the roster, there’s a limited window to chase the Lombardi Trophy.
Ever since Antonio Brown joined the Buccaneers, though, results have taken a turn for the worst. While the receiver’s off-field issues haven’t caused any major problems, his mere presence could be torpedoing Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl dreams.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers entered the season as Super Bowl hopefuls
After winning a Super Bowl in 2002, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fell on some tough times. The 2020 campaign, however, was supposed to be a different story.
The biggest change was, of course, the arrival of Tom Brady. While Jameis Winston was capable of producing some incredible moments, he was also capable of gifting the game to the opposition with mistakes and turnovers. Even if you believed that Brady had lost a bit off his fastball, he was still supposed to give the offensive unit some stability and a bit of an extra edge.
The Bucs also traded for Rob Gronkowski; the big tight end was lured out of retirement by the chance to play alongside Brady for someone other than Bill Belichick. Those two men, combined with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Ronald Jones II, and Leonard Fournette, gave Tampa an offense that should, on paper, should have been able to hang with anyone in the NFL.
Adding Antonio Brown, despite his off-field issues
In pro sports, the rich usually tend to get richer as players want to join the best teams and make a run at the championship. That seemed to happen in Tampa Bay earlier this season when the Buccaneers inked Antonio Brown to a one-year contract.
The elephant in the room when it comes to Brown is, of course, his behavioral history. After falling out with the Pittsburgh Steelers, his brief spell with the Oakland Raiders was a disaster; he then joined the Patriots, was cut after accusations of sexual assault, and spent the offseason doing seemingly everything possible to make headlines in a negative way.
Although Brown began the season on an eight-game suspension, the receiver signed on the dotted line and joined the Buccaneers. He’s been living with Tom Brady, earning rave reviews from his coaches, and, barring an incident with a security camera, has been a “model citizen,” according to Bruce Arians, as shared by ESPN.
Antonio Brown might be sinking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Super Bowl hopes
In theory, an offense boasting Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown make any team a Super Bowl favorite. In Tampa Bay, however, things haven’t gone according to plan.
While Brown’s behavior hasn’t been an issue—at least as far as we know—his addition hasn’t made the Buccaneers world-beaters. If anything, the receiver could have thrown off the team’s offensive balance.
As laid out by Michael Hurley of CBS Boston, Tampa Bay has struggled since Brown joined the active roster. The team is 1-2, and, perhaps more surprisingly, Tom Brady’s individual performances have faltered. While sample size and individual matchups can complicate things, it does seem like AB has complicated things a little bit.
Brady, for better or worse, seems to have made an active effort to include Brown in the offense and throw the ball his way. As Hurley pointed out, though, those targets have come at the expense of Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson. While no one would suggest that those men are more talented than Brown, they did seem to form a rapport with Brady. It also seems like the wealth of receiving options has caused Tampa Bay to forget about their ground game.
It goes without saying that three games won’t define the Buccaneers’ season. If the offensive issues continue, though, their chances of lifting the Lombardi Trophy will get slimmer and slimmer with each passing week.
Sometimes, a personnel decision can be addition by subtraction. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, however, may have taken things in the opposite direction. Adding Antonio Brown to the roster undeniably gave them more talent but his presence may have overcomplicated things for Tom Brady and the offense.