By: Robbie Stratakos
Yes, Tom Brady winning his seventh Super Bowl past 40 years old is historically perplexing. At the same time, it’s not as if he’s the only reason why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl 55 — their 31-9 trouncing of the Kansas City Chiefs is a culmination of the organization devising the perfect roster.
You’ll spend days trying to find a gaping weakness on head coach Bruce Arians’ roster.
Offensively, they had Brady, a composed pocket passer, alongside a pair of young, powerful and efficient running backs in Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette. Split out wide was an elite downfield threat in Mike Evans, a do-it-all receiver in Chris Godwin, the elusive Antonio Brown and a speedster in Scotty Miller.
Up front was an offensive line that gave Brady several seconds to survey the field and paved the way for Jones and Fournette to get through the gaps and bounce outside (Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet, Ryan Jensen, Aaron Stinnie and Tristan Wirfs). Next to them was the versatile Rob Gronkowski and unheralded Cameron Brate at tight end.
Incredibly, you could argue that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ unit was as good, if not better than offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich’s unit.
Tampa Bay had arguably the best front seven in the NFL this season. Jason Pierre-Paul and Shaq Barrett were relentless off the edge; Devin White has the speed to cover and tenacity to drop down and rush; Lavonte David covers well and is a tackling machine; defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, William Gholston and Vita Vea are respectable against the run.
Meanwhile, the secondary was a sly force. Cornerbacks Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean had plausible seasons locking down the back end, while rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. flew all over the place and fellow safety Jordan Whitehead held his own.
The Buccaneers picked apart defenses in the air while moving the sticks with the ground game. Meanwhile, they consistently rushed the passer, played the run well and their secondary came up huge against the Chiefs.
There was nothing this team couldn’t do. They won three playoff games on the road against two NFC powerhouses (Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints) and an emerging Washington defense. Whenever a part of their roster struggled, another part picked up the slack because that’s the way they were designed: to rely on each other, not on one particular player.
Evans and Godwin had a combined three receptions for 40 yards against the Chiefs, and the Buccaneers still put up four touchdowns. Whitehead and Winfield played through injury, and the defense still kept Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ otherworldly offense out of the endzone.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht helped establish a foundation for a respectable football team via the draft across his seven seasons with the organization (Evans, Smith, Godwin, White, Wirfs and many others).
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went all in on a roster with a lot of homegrown players, accompanied by proven commodities brought in from the outside. Opportunity can be scarce in sports, and the Buccaneers simply seized the opportunity that was given to them.