Tampa Bay Buccaneers will head into the 2021 NFL season with a massive target on their backs after romping to Super Bowl glory last time around.
Tom Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay ramped up expectations amongst the fans, and the legendary quarterback delivered in style to lead the team to American Football’s biggest prize.
The Bucs are currently the second favourites behind Kansas City Chiefs to win back-to-back titles and it would be a brave move to back against them.
Having retained their 22 regular starters during the off-season, Tampa Bay are certainly well placed to mount a serious defence of their NFL title next term.
While Brady will undoubtedly be crucial to the Bucs’ hopes, it would be foolish to think that they are a one-man team. Read on as we look at three players who could make a big impact in 2021.
Brady’s decision to personally reach out to Bernard to persuade him to move to the Buccaneers highlights just how much he rates the 29-year-old.
Bernard is third among NFL running backs since his rookie year in 2013 with 342 receptions, 445 targets and 2,867 receiving yards for the Cincinnati Bengals.
He will improve a unit that was one of the Bucs’ few weak points last year, thus strengthening the attacking weapons at Brady’s disposal.
Bernard’s ability to avoid tacklers makes him an appealing proposition and it would be no surprise to see him rack up impressive numbers for the Bucs next season.
As is the case with most Super Bowl winners, the Bucs did well to navigate through the majority of last season without picking up too many serious injuries.
One exception to the rule was Vita Vea, with the defenseman suffering a sickening fracture to his right leg and ankle during the week five defeat against Chicago Bears.
Vea battled back to return for the final two games of the play-offs and he will be eager to enjoy an injury-free campaign for the Bucs this season.
The team’s defensive unit is much better when he is on the pitch and that is a frightening thought given what Tampa Bay achieved without him for most of last year.
Howard is another player who endured injury misery last season as he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon in just the fourth game against the Los Angeles Chargers.
The tight end produced some impressive performances during those early weeks and had seemingly benefited from Rob Gronkowski’s arrival in Tampa Bay.
He has averaged 15.26 yards per catch since entering the professional ranks, the highest by any tight end with at least 50 receptions during that time frame.
With Howard and Gronkowski on their roster, the Bucs unquestionably possess the most formidable pair of tight ends out of all the NFL teams.