By Leo Haggerty


OK, I get it.  Anytime a player or coach that’s considered to be a “game changer” is procured by a team, either by draft or trade or free agency, the expectations of the fan base rises.

Not surprisingly, when QB Tom Brady chose to leave the New England Patriots and become a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the collective temperature of Pewter Pirate Nation went up exponentially.  Then, when TE Rob Gronkowski decided to come out of retirement and join the gang, playoff fever exploded.

Well, let me encourage folks who follow the Bucs, media and fans alike, to pump the brakes before you buy your tickets to Super Bowl LV.  Here’s two big reasons why those that follow Tampa Bay need to temper their enthusiasm.

Also, I will expound on the positives that, if they occur, could lead to the 2nd Lombardi Trophy coming to Tampa Bay.  That’s only fair, right?

First, you’re talking about making a mammoth jump from a 7-9 team in 2019 to a double-digit winning playoff team in 2020.  Yes, that’s possible but you will have to jump the Atlanta Falcons as well as the division champion New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South.  Can’t count out Carolina either.  That’s the only way to secure a position in the National Football League’s second season.

If you don’t win the division, you’re at the mercy of the other 12 National Football Conference teams.  You will need to have a better record than five other NFC clubs or you’re not even making it to the playoffs.

You could, for arguments sake, finish 10-6 and not make it to the dance.  Bucs fans, we remember that happening all too well, right?

That’s the bad news.  The good news is that this year, due to the pandemic, all 32 NFL franchises are on a completely even playing field.  No teams get extra practice time for whatever reason.  Everyone starting at square one.  Plus, no one expects #12 to throw 30 passes to the fellas in the other color jerseys.  In my mind, those two facts shout advantage Buccaneers.

The second reason is that you’re putting all your eggs in the basket of a 43-year old signal-caller.  We all know that, when it comes to pro quarterbacks, when they go south, they go south in a hurry.  Add to that the injury factor to TB12 and that makes the Buccaneers becoming the first team competing for the Super Bowl trophy in their own stadium extremely problematic.

Again, that’s the bad news.  The good news is that, yes, Tampa Bay has the NFL GOAT when it comes to playoff quarterbacks.  They have the best QB when it comes to making pre-snap reads.  With that being said, that makes the risk worth the reward.

I will say this.  If everything goes right for the Bucs, as it did in their Super Bowl XXXVII triumph (21 of the 22 players that started Week 1 lined up in San Diego against the Oakland Raiders plus every team the Buccaneers beat in the playoffs were coached previously by Tampa Bay HC Jon Gruden in some capacity and the 49ers beat the Giants so the extremely physical New Yorkers were replaced by a beat-up finesse San Fran squad as well as WR Joe Jurevicius hopping the cheerleader plane to Philly to make the offensive play of the game against the Eagles), the Pewter Pirates have a shot.

Here’s hoping for that “perfect storm” in 2020.  If that happens, the cannons will be firing in Tomba Bay in February or, maybe, a little bit later.