Bucs Were Healthiest Team In 2020

May 8th, 2021

Yes, the Bucs were wonderful against the run last year and after the bye, the offense clicked just like everyone thought it would.

There was, however, a secret sauce the Bucs used to help propel themselves to win the Super Bowl. It’s a recipe a team can rarely prepare for or stop.

It was health. Even factoring in The Sickness, the Bucs were the healthiest team in the NFL. Yes, even though Vita Vea was out for much of the season and O.J. Howard was lost for the season.

Scott Spratt of Football Outsiders used the site’s mathematical hopscotch formula to determine which team were most dented by injuries.

The Super Bowl champions were the league’s least bit by the injury bug.

However, health may have attracted Brady to the Bucs as much as their talented receivers. Tampa Bay finished third in adjusted games lost in 2019, and the metric correlates from year to year with a strength of about 0.30. Age likely plays a role there, and the Bucs had the fifth-lowest snap-weighted age (25.8) in 2019 and (with the obvious exception of Brady) weren’t much older last season.

The Bucs were the healthiest team on offense (12.4 adjusted games lost) and second-healthiest team on defense (18.2), but they still faced adversity in their path to a title. Star defensive tackle Vita Vea missed three months with a broken leg, and the team lost several starters including Alex Cappa, Antonio Brown, and Antoine Winfield for portions of the playoffs (though playoff games are not a part of adjusted games lost). But the Bucs were resilient. The team maintained their No. 1-ranked run defense without Vea, and, well, you saw their postseason success.

Joe wonders if the Bucs’ good fortune with injuries will continue through 2021? Two straight years of dodging the bullet on major injuries is pretty incredible. Can the Bucs make it three?

Remember that unlike much of the league, the Bucs played four more games and have one less month for their bodies to fully recuperate. One thing going for them is the defense had so many snaps logged by reserve players.

That paid off in the end, as Joe is convinced the defense had fresh legs to go the distance. That experienced depth may prove critical if the Bucs suffer a rash of injuries this fall.

24 Responses to “Bucs Were Healthiest Team In 2020”

  1. Colonel Angus Says:

    We had a lot of guys play through injuries last year. I wonder if that would have been the case if we were having a down year? Go ahead and chalk that one up to the Brady effect too.

  2. Steven007 Says:

    That was undoubtedly a huge factor in our success. I wondered about that all year long without knowing what the exact metrics were. Obviously hope for the same this year, but we’ll need some luck.

  3. Colin in Canada Says:

    When you have good depth you can rotate guys in and out. We had a lot of personnel groupings on Offence and the DL and DBs rotated. Plus BA is good to the vets in practice. We did technically lose the starting TE OJ for the season but when youre as deep as the bucs it didnt matter.

  4. Colin in Canada Says:

    I think the team was better without OJ to be honest

  5. Rads Says:

    Good point Colonel. Evans played through a high ankle sprain that would have kept most recovers out at least 4 games. Godwin kept playing with pins in his finger and couldn’t use it properly the rest of the season. OJ is injury prone but was a big loss. JPP was on a bad meniscus and didn’t practice at all in the second half. Davis was dinged up a bunch. The most ballsy example was Whitehead playing with a shredded shoulder in the Super Bowl. Can’t forget the dedication Vita showed to get right in time. Brady was probably in pain all year with his knee needing cleanup. They all belived it was worth soldiering on for.

  6. SOEbuc Says:

    Bucs are BEYOND deep in depth. That’s what super Bowl teams are. Our oline is so stacked. Tryon, Hainsey, and Darden will be sick under these coaches and sitting soaking up these starters for a year.

  7. Fred mcneil Says:

    Don’t be jinxing us, guys.

  8. Sport Says:

    Rads nailed it. We were hurt, just didn’t stop playing.

    I always pray for the health of our players.

    Brutal sport…

    In BA I Trust!

  9. Rod Munch Says:

    How do people underplay the fact that the Bucs literally didn’t have both Evans and Godwin fully healthy at the same time at any point season? Evans did a great job of roughing it out and playing despite him clearly not be 100% for basically the entire season. Godwin missed a ton of time and when he was on the field he was more healthy than Evans, but he missed a ton of time. AB got hurt in the playoffs. Scotty Miller got, at least that he says to blame the low production in the Bears ago.

    Overall the WRs get hurt a lot – and thats why you bring in a ton of guys.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Surprised that no one credited the Bucs’ strength & conditioning coaches and their medical staff for the job they did during 2019 and especially 2020. Anthony Piroli and his 4 assistant coaches undoubtedly played a huge role in helping keep these guys in top condition, and in helping them rehab when they got dinged up. And the medical staff did a superb job I thought of helping guys get back on the field in record time after injuries.

    None of us often say this either, but Bucs’ fans should also credit the Glazers for providing what seem to me to be the best training facilities in the NFL. Bucs’ All-World headquarters surely wasn’t cheap, but it was money well spent in helping these guys stay in top physical condition & helping to get them prepared for games even during our brutal summer & fall days.

  11. Stanglassman Says:

    Yes DR. The Bucs have come a long way from practicing on what was essentially the SE side of the runway at TIA inhaling all the jet fumes. Outdoor weight room the size of a small two garage.

  12. Kentucky Buc Says:

    The TB12 guys helping out all season was a contributing factor also. Something Belichek had at his disposal but refused to use. Evans commented several times how they helped keep him on the field.

  13. '79Defense Says:

    I fully believe we were the best team in the NFL last year– hard for anyone to argue otherwise with a SB win, but injuries to other teams in the playoffs certainly helped.

    Brees not at full strength, Packers and Chiefs O-line issues. Good fortune no doubt can play a role in winning it all.

  14. SB~LV Says:

    17 games…. grrrr … owners , I have a bad feeling about that odd number of games .

  15. geno711 Says:

    Interesting article. Always felt guys like Suh and JPP play through injuries/aches and pains more than others at their position.

    You look at guys who lead in snap counts year in and year out, they are always near the top. Then on offensive you have had D Smith just be a stalwart at left tackle for years.

    Probably credit lies all around.

  16. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    We should have better quality backups this year.

  17. Mort Says:

    Tip of the hat to the sports science folks and the strength and conditioning folks for keeping these dudes healthy.

  18. DoooshLaRue Says:

    It was a special season no doubt.
    We were extremely fortunate…..maybe even lucky when it came to injuries and timely penalties against our opponents.

    I hope our luck holds out.
    If it doesn’t, I hope that we remain mentally tough and work through it and not collapse like we’ve done way too many times in the past.

    Go Bucs!

  19. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I wanted to mention our fortune with health several times last year but didn’t want to jinx things…..hope this doesn’t.

    Our only major losses were OJ, Vea & Cappa…..and we survived that with depth…..Gronk, Brate, Nacho & Stinnie…

    Should be in good shape with that.

    And, no…we are not a better team without OJ….

  20. Cobraboy Says:

    The #1 reason injuries did not cause a 2020 train wreck is DEPTH.

    Injuries become a bigger negative factor if a team lacks depth.

  21. cover deuce Says:

    Special Teams got better in a big way. I still think OT is where their depth is weakest. If they can find a reliable swing tackle that’d go a long way we need more #BigBoysForBrady

  22. Long time Brady fan says Says:

    Don’t underestimate the players awareness of the TB12 method and the benefits the come from hydration, electrolytes, and muscle plyability. It is improved and unimpeded electron flow which is the key to health and life. For when your life is stuck from an affliction so is your electron flow in very specific places in your body.

  23. Swampbuc Says:

    The law of averages scares me more than any opponent on our schedule. We are due for some major injury setbacks to a number of critical players. Like 2003 only worse.

  24. MarkRIf Says:

    Yes we had injuries we had to work through during the season, but:
    1. Overall, as the metrics above indicate, we were the healthiest team in the NFL last season and
    2. More importantly, after Vita returned for the Green Bay game we were very healthy for the playoffs.
    As I said in another post, “INJURIES (or the lack thereof) ARE EVERYTHING!”