Buccaneers need to play their game to earn first win of 2021

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Buccaneers have an obvious path forward vs. the Cowboys.

Good teams have an expression they use when they have supreme confidence in their players and their skills. It’s simple really.

And for the most part, it’s true. The saying goes something along the lines of, we don’t have to worry about the opponent, we only have to play our game to the best of our ability.

That, in a nutshell, is where our Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit as they uncork the 2021 season hosting the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 Eastern Time, Thursday night at Raymond James Stadium. Simple as that.

Sure, we can play the media games and talk about all the foofoo and hoodoo that they need to in order to hype the game. But, when it comes down to brass tacks (whoever came up with that metaphor) it simply boils down to Tom Brady and company doing what Brady and company have been doing for the last seven games.

To quote our site expert, this game ought to be “throw, throw, throw, throw, and then throw some more. “No team in the league has the pass-catching talent that Tampa has. Few can come close to matching the wide receiver room, and, frankly, there is no better tight end group than the three players that wear the pewter.

Already, some of the pundits are anticipating Mike Evans exploding on Thursday. That alone ought to put the fear in any defensive backfield. But you still have to figure out what to do with Chris Godwin. Godwin had a horrible year (for him) with a case of the dropsies, but he still made the catches that counted, pushing through the gauntlet of games the Bucs faced as they raced to the Lombardi party.

And then there’s Antonio Brown. AB being back to the AB of 7-8 years ago, or at least that’s what coach Bruce Arians has been touting. And BA ought to know something about AB. And we haven’t talked about the backups yet. We still have Scotty Miller, the self-proclaimed fastest man in the NFL, and Tyler Johnson. And, lest we forget, we also have a rookie Jaelon Darden who will be fielding punts and kicks, and who knows, may even get a cameo in the slot if he does well enough on runbacks.

Who is going to stop the Gronkmeister? Rob Gronkowski is tuned up and ready to go. Worried last season that he might not make it through without an injury, he completed the entire season without missing a beat. And topped it off with a pair of SB LV TDs. And then OJ Howard is back. He may not be in tip-top shape, but he really doesn’t have to be yet. If they need more reliable hands than his, they can turn to Cam Brate.

And don’t forget that the Bucs offensive line turned into one of the best in the league last season. They talked about sacks allowed on different linemen in single digits, not two, but only one sack allowed. It was as if Tristan Wirfs brought with him a can of whip you know what and used it like Fix-a-Flat™ to pump everyone up.

Is that all?

Isn’t that enough?

No wait, didn’t we pick up a running back with great hands? Giovanni Bernard, and we can forget Lombardi Lenny Fournette, who actually did a great job of catching the ball during the playoff run.

Not enough?

Let’s talk about the running backs. We already mentioned the number two and three backs, and we haven’t even mentioned Ronald Jones. Jones would certainly have topped a cool 1,000 yards last season if the team didn’t defer some plays to Brown so he could pick up a little extra cash in bonus money. And, then there’s Ke’shawn Vaughn, a wild card if there ever was one.

But what about the Buccaneers defense? Did someone utter that as a discouraging note?

The defense was indestructible in its opportunities during the preseason. They are going to be every bit as tough as they were last season, only with more confidence and even more swagger. How much more swagger do they needed than posting the peace sign in Tyreek Hill’s face at the end of the SB?

Expect to see the defense make a serious attempt at being the best Buccaneer defense of all time. Sorry (Warren) Sapp, but these dogs hunt the quarterback even better than you, Simeon Rice, and Ronde Barber used to.

The Cowboys will be playing without, arguably, their best player Zack Martin at right guard. Who will they put in to replace him? In truth, it doesn’t really matter. Part of Kansas City’s downfall in February can be attributed to second-team linemen filling in, so to speak. Although, there is something to be said for the number and quality of their penalties.

In the end, be surprised if this game is even close. All preseason long we were expecting our team to come out strong. Get ready for Thursday, cause the games start meaning something then.

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