2020 NFL Preview: What’s Best-, Worst-Case Scenario For Tom Brady, Bucs?

Hopes are high for the Tom Brady-led Bucs. But how high should they be?

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Of all the personnel movement around the NFL this offseason, easily the most notable was the departure of Tom Brady from the New England Patriots.

And with Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy and, now, Leonard Fournette among those joining Brady with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, many think big things could be coming to a team that hasn’t had a playoff appearance since 2007.

So where should our expectations fall? Here’s out best- and worst-case scenario for Brady and the Bucs.

BEST CASE
In this situation, all the stars align. We find out that Brady didn’t actually regress in 2019, he just had bad weapons around him.

As a result, he not only benefits from playing alongside Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, but they too get better because Brady is still a top-tier quarterback.

Meanwhile, a year away helps Gronkowski, and he comes back as a nice complimentary piece to O.J. Howard, forming a simply unstoppable passing game.

But in the event they play against a team with a solid pass defense, they can go to the ground, where the two-headed monster of Fournette and McCoy provides a mix of power and finesse.

They ride this offensive wave to one win after another, with only a few slip-ups along the way. As a result, they get a first-round bye in the postseason, which paves the way for them to make the Super Bowl, where Brady gets a shot to prove that he doesn’t need Bill Belichick to win a Lombardi Trophy.

All the pieces fit together perfectly, and the Bucs go something like 14-2, cruise into the playoffs and make (and possibly win!) the Super Bowl.

WORST CASE
The NFC South won’t be a cakewalk. The New Orleans Saints are still good, if the Falcons’ defense comes around Atlanta could be halfway decent and the Carolina Panthers just invested in a quarterback they think can get them to the playoffs.

That aside, the Bucs just a year ago (while fully acknowledging they kept it close in most games they played) finished 7-9 last season. Meanwhile, Brady regressed with the Pats, likely due in part to the lackluster weapons around him and the fact that he was 42-years-old.

So, even with Evans, Godwin and Howard around him, how much better will he actually be? He’s certainly not going to miraculously become an overly gifted deep-ball passer, a skill that usually is on full display for a quarterback in a Bruce Arians offense. So while Brady’s weapons are way better, is he the right quarterback to properly use them?

Further, there also are question marks around each of the new additions. Gronkowski hasn’t played in a long time, McCoy isn’t the back he used to be from a skill or health perspective. And we still don’t know why the Jacksonville Jaguars, who should be awful this year, decided Fournette wasn’t worth keeping around.

Put all these things together, and maybe the improvement on the Bucs is minimal. Sure, it would be a stunner if they went 7-9 again or got worse. But there are a lot of new pieces on that team, and good as they are (or were at one point), that doesn’t mean they will jell easily. At the very least, they’ll be better than last season, but maybe Brady and Co. will find themselves in a race for the final wild card spots.

The slew of additions only make the Bucs a little better, and they go 9-7, maybe sneaking in as a wild card before swiftly getting knocked out of the playoffs

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images

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