Stepping On The Scale

June 22nd, 2021

Where do the Bucs stand in their quest to repeat?

The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports, Ira Kaufman, is in his sixth decade covering the National Football League! His weekly columns and podcasts here are presented by Bill Currie Ford, a family-owned Tampa treasure for 61 years. Ask Bill Currie GM Sean Sullivan for personal service on buying or servicing a vehicle, or even if you just have questions. And remember the Ira Kaufman discount and the Bill Currie lifetime warranty on new and used vehicles. 


We’re a month away from Tampa Bay’s ring ceremony, officially signaling the end of the glorious 2020 season.

When training camp starts two days later, Bruce Arians will forcefully remind his team that this is a new year with new challenges. There are 31 other franchises eager to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy as the Bucs seek to become the first Super Bowl winner to run it back since the 2004 Patriots.

Buc fans couldn’t ask for a better offseason and Tom Brady returns — a year older but a year wiser in terms of his grasp of the playbook.

Can the Bucs repeat as NFL champions? Here are the pros and cons:


* A healthy Vita Vea would make a strong pass rush even more dynamic. In seven games with Vea, including the final two postseason matchups, the Bucs averaged 3.6 sacks. That’s a huge number and it would have been even more startling if Patrick Mahomes wasn’t so adept at avoiding pass rushers. In 13 games without Vea, that sack average dropped to 2.5. Vea’s a difference maker. That’s why he is on the brink of a major contract extension.

* In the final eight games, all wins, Brady threw 22 TD passes and only 4 picks. His familiarity with the offensive scheme and his timing with his targets improved significantly and all of his major weapons are back. Given the addition of third-down back Giovani Bernard, the 2021 Buc offense appears quite scary. If Tampa Bay finishes with the No. 1 scoring attack in the league, no one should be surprised.

* The schedule is about as favorable as any Buc fan could hope for. Arians can’t complain about a midseason bye week and the only short week comes in mid-October, when the Bucs travel to Philadelphia to face the mediocre Eagles. The potential cold-weather games are against the Panthers and Jets — rebuilding clubs with new starting quarterbacks.

* When I asked Arians about the possibility of an undefeated season, his response was immediate: “Let’s win the damn division, OK?” That task should be far easier following the retirement of Drew Brees and the trade of Julio Jones to Tennessee. The Bucs are prohibitive favorites to win the NFC South for the first time since 2007. They should be.


* Every reigning Super Bowl winner swears they will put up guard rails against complacency, but talk is easy and defending a title is awfully difficult. Having Brady on hand will help keep the organization motivated, but the view from the mountain top tends to weaken your focus. Any drop in intensity would spell trouble.

* The Bucs have been remarkably healthy when it comes to key players. Donovan Smith has missed two games in six years. Ryan Jensen has handled virtually 100 percent of the center snaps for three consecutive seasons. Lavonte David has missed 7 games in 9 years and Ndamukong Suh has dressed for all 32 games as a Buccaneer. Some of it is grinding through injuries, some of it is good fortune. You never know when you’ll go through the type of season the 49ers encountered in 2020. And we haven’t even mentioned the importance of keeping Brady upright.

* The Bucs are no longer an after-thought around the NFL. That changed markedly when Brady came aboard 15 months ago and it’s even more true now that the Bucs are preparing for a lavish ring ceremony. Opposing clubs used to take the Bucs for granted. Not anymore. For teams like the Panthers and Eagles, beating Tampa Bay would be a statement victory.

* At some point, age wins the battle. Brady turns 44 in August. Ndamukong Suh has been fighting off blockers for 174 NFL games. Jason Pierre-Paul has been coming off the edge since 2010. Lavonte David has been chasing down runners for nine years. The Bucs are a young team in certain respects, but some of their key performers have some tread.

Bottom line? The score is tied 4-4 heading into training camp.

Let the games begin.

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13 Responses to “Stepping On The Scale”

  1. Rico 210 Says:

    Thanks Ira
    Man I’m so ready. Let’s go!
    I think the major factors will be the health of our team. No one opponent scares me regardless of their high hopes of winning against the world champs.
    20-0 till it ain’t so
    Go Bucs

  2. Kyle Says:

    Nice article Ira, cant believe we are less than 100 days away from Dallas..

  3. SlyPirate Says:

    The Bucs have most complete team in the NFL, 22 returning starters, depth at nearly every position, and an upgraded special teams.

    You have to beat the champ to be the champ. It’ll be tough to beat this squad.

  4. Bucs Bro Says:

    This guy writes articles? I thought he just did podcast and read commercials for car dealers and fruity beers?

  5. Swampbuc Says:

    3 of those 4 Brady picks came in the 2nd half of the Packers game, too.

  6. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    14-3, top seed in the NFC and we’ll run it back to back. My only concern is injuries. Brady will make sure the team is not complacent.

  7. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    I like the sound of “20-0 till it ain’t so”.

    Yeah, the Sage brought to the table some kind of experience gathered somehow when he joined the JBF team. 😉

  8. unbelievable Says:

    IMO, it really just comes down to 2 issues:

    1. Health

    2. Intensity/Focus vs. Complacency/SB Hangover

    If we’re able to overcome those 2 things, there is no reason we can’t make it back to and possibly win another Super Bowl.

    Simple as that.

  9. Medicated Pete Says:

    Prediction: Vita Vea will put 3 players in the hospital this season

  10. Iamabuc Says:

    Hey RICO, I like that too!!…20-0 till it ain’t so!!… that’s the f@cking attitude!!!….💪💪💪

  11. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    All good points. We’ll see what happens. My biggest fear is injuries so if we are lucky there, we should take the crown again. My second biggest fear is complacency but maybe it should be first. Gonna be fun though.

  12. Buczilla Says:


  13. D-Rok Says:

    Another con not mentioned by Ira or any commenter: SB-winning teams tend to get gutsy the next season. They tend to say, “Let’s try this this or that because we’re that good and we think we can take it up a notch and surprise our opponents.” I hope the coaches stick to the winning formula and plays from last year, and just demand excellence and execution of those plays. If the Bucs execute their assignments each play as good or better than last year, we can expect them to be in contention. Fundamental football is what is needed because execution wins, as opposed to outsmarting every opponent.