Hot Take: Tampa Bay will be first team on their home field in the Super Bowl


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Kyle McKee, Sports Editor

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been the talk of the NFL offseason. They signed Tom Brady to a two-year, $50 million contract, fully guaranteed, and they managed to acquire formerly retired tight-end Rob Gronkowski in a trade with the Patriots. Brady shocked football fans across the globe and broke the hearts of Massachusetts residents by deciding to leave the Patriots this offseason. Brady makes Tampa Bay an immediate threat in the NFC. Some may even have the Bucs as the favorite to win the NFC South and even the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. The Bucs making the 2020 Super Bowl would go down in history as no team has ever played a Super Bowl in their home stadium. With that being said, many believe that the Bucs will not live up to the crazy expectations now placed upon them.

People against the idea of the Bucs as contenders in 2020 believe that every team in every sport — especially football — that has immense expectations and pressure never lives up to them in the first season of construction. For example, at this time last year, everyone was talking about the Cleveland Browns. NFL experts and analysts were picking Cleveland to win their division, the AFC North and make the playoffs, even advancing beyond Wild Card Weekend. With the additions of top wideouts Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, along with running back Kareem Hunt to go with the Browns’ established star halfback Nick Chubb, Cleveland looked poised to have a winning season for the first time in what seems like forever. The hype lasted all summer and into the beginning of the season, until they were destroyed by the Tennessee Titans in the first week of the season. Week one foreshadowed what was to come for the Browns — more disappointment. Baker Mayfield did not improve on his promising rookie campaign, Odell Beckham Jr. had his first season with less than 1,000 receiving yards, head coach Freddie Kitchens got fired and the Browns finished the season 6-10, one game worse than the season prior.

Another example of unfulfilled hype occurred in 2012, when Peyton Manning was traded to the Denver Broncos. Denver was the talk of the 2012 offseason and the Broncos were favorites to reach the Super Bowl. The team was able to actually live up to the hype, at least during the regular season. The Broncos went 13-3 and claimed the one seed in the AFC playoffs. In the divisional round, the Broncos got upset by the Baltimore Ravens and the Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl.

It is believed that when Tampa Bay fails to meet expectations, the Bucs will finish somewhere between the 2019 Browns and the 2012 Broncos, not terrible but not extraordinary. The Bucs have a tough 2020 schedule with games against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings and two games against the New Orleans Saints. Even though teams in the past have made historic turnarounds, it’s hard to imagine the Bucs going from a below .500 squad to a Super Bowl contender with a tight-end who took a year off from playing football and a 42-year-old quarterback. Taking a year off didn’t work that well for Le’Veon Bell, but crazier things have happened, and it’s hard to bet against Tom Brady.

However, if there is any truth to the Bucs’ Super Bowl aspirations, it is that Tom Brady is hard to bet against. Even though Brady is 42, going on 43, he is still better than what the Buccaneers formerly had with quarterback Jameis Winston. Brady is not the quarterback he once was and he only has a couple years left until he decides to hang it up. No one should expect Brady to put up crazy statistics or be a fantasy stud but he will not turn the ball over, which has been the biggest problem for the Bucs since drafting Jameis back in 2015. Not only will Brady not turn the ball over, he will consistently make the right decisions. He might end up becoming a “game manager,” but he will be the strongest game manager ever. In Tampa, Brady may have games in which he resembles vintage Brady because of all the weapons he has at his disposal.

Brady will bring a type of attitude to the Bucs franchise that they haven’t had since the days of Warren Sapp. Free agents that are still available will be attracted to sign with the Bucs because of Brady. In addition, NFL experts will say that Tampa Bay’s defense was significantly better than the statistics showed last season.Nobody is worried about their offense, but if their defense can take steps forward from last season’s strong end, then Tampa Bay will be a Super Bowl threat.