Written by Cody Manning, @CodyTalksNFL
What a wild ride we all have been on for the past 6 months in the year 2020, somehow, squeezed in right before the pandemic started to hit the country, Tom Brady decided to take his talent to Tampa Bay. The additions of Rob Gronkowski and Leonard Fournette have made the Bucs one of the most talked-about teams heading into the season. With that being said, it’s deserved, they have a top WR tandem with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, plus one of the deeper tight end groups in the league. The praise doesn’t stop there as they will be returning with one of the best front-7s in the NFL with players like Lavonte David, Devin White, Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, and Jason Pierre-Paul. It will be interesting to see how the team performs on Sunday against their rival in the Big Easy, here are my Top 5 things I want to see from Tampa against New Orleans:
1. What will this offense look like?
I have so many questions on what to expect from this offense, but unfortunately, we may not get to see the full unit because Mike Evans is doubtful with a hamstring injury. Does that mean Chris Godwin will be peppered with targets? Can Scotty Miller or Justin Watson step up in his absence? How will the rotation work between Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate? How does Tom Brady look in a new scheme? Well, it’s time to put the questions away and get some answers, we will get an idea what to expect from the offensive unit going forward starting this Sunday.
2. Is the young secondary ready to take the next step?
Tampa’s secondary came on towards the end of the season but this is still a young group of players that the team will be dependent on for their longterm success of winning a Super Bowl. Sean Murphy-Bunting can be a playmaker from the cornerback position, Jamel Dean has the size and speed to match up with NFL receivers, and Carlton Davis has shown steady growth since being placed into a starting role his rookie year. Rookie, Antoine Winfield Jr., has the ability to earn rookie of the year honors if he can be the ballhawk he was at Minnesota. Tons of potential in the backend of the defense.
3. What is Leonard Fournette’s role?
The late acquisition of Fournette added another element to this Tampa offense to attack an opposing defense in a variety of ways. But, how will he be used? With the lack of time, I would assume he could handle 1st and 2nd downs while working in red-zone packages. Bruce Arians said that he believed Ronald Jones is a guy they can count on, so will he be splitting reps out of the backfield or will he dominate the touches? While Fournette’s role will be somewhat limited in Week 1, I will be following how this backfield will evolve throughout the course of the season.
4. Can the defense keep creating turnovers?
Quietly, the Buccaneers defense finished 5th in the 2019 season with a total of 28 takeaways, which was overshadowed by the constant turnovers by Jameis Winston. With Brady leading the offense, the defensive unit understands they have someone they can trust to protect the ball. This should motivate them to keep up the effort of creating turnovers to give the team scoring opportunities. There are plenty of players in this defense that I have mentioned that can get the job done. The question is, can they do it again in 2020?
5. Can Ryan Succop deliver when the team needs him?
After spending the majority of his career with the Tennessee Titans, Ryan Succop signed with the Bucs after the team decided to move on from former 5th round pick, Matt Gay. He was a reliable kicker for the Titans, but after getting injured, they felt like it was time to move on from him. Succop has made 82.2% of his field goals since entering the NFL. Tampa has a bad history at the position, this game could come down to the wire, they need to find out if he’s a guy they can count on when it gets later into the year.