The Internal Battle

August 17th, 2021

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For each of the past 16 years, a Super Bowl winner has failed to repeat. Now, it’s Tampa Bay’s opportunity to reverse that trend.

What are the chances?

During my trip to Canton earlier this month, I had a chance to pose that question to several keen NFL observers, including one of only six head coaches who have gone back-to-back on the league’s biggest stage.

The task is difficult, they say, but far from impossible.

The challenge facing the 2021 Bucs is daunting. Every opponent wants to knock off the king. Health is always a major issue, a constant concern for Bruce Arians. Teams have had six months to study you on tape and Tampa Bay returns the same starters.

Difficult, not impossible.

Remember that great line in “League of Their Own,” when Tom Hanks talks to one of his players about the rigors of baseball:

“It’s supposed to be hard,” Hanks says. “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

Mike Shanahan talks to Ira

Mike Shanahan, who led the 1997-98 Broncos to Super Bowl wins, says the Bucs have a real shot at another Vince Lombardi Trophy.

“You have to have a lot of guys going in the same direction and believing in each other,” he said. “You have to have the quarterback — and the Bucs have a proven winner. You have to have a solid defense — and I think Tampa Bay’s defense was outstanding last year.

“Heading into 1998, we talked about complacency. We knew people would be gunning for us, but we handled it well. If you get carried away with the success you had, it comes back to haunt people very quickly. The Bucs certainly have the talent to repeat.”

Of the last 16 Super Bowl champs who failed to run it back, none posted a losing record the following season. Eleven of the 16 made the playoffs.

“I think the Bucs have a very good chance to repeat,” said Joe Theismann. “Two reasons why. First, they played better football right after the bye when they figured out what kind of offense they wanted to run. And No. 2, Tom looks like he’s 25 and I’m so impressed that everyone wanted to come back.

“When you can bring everyone back in this day and age of money grab, it tells you what they think of the organization, the coach and everyone they play with. I think the Bucs are going to be a tough out.”

Theismann had the Redskins on the brink of back-to-back titles until the 1983 club was routed by the Raiders in the first Super Bowl played in Tampa.

“My advice to this Buc team is simple,” Theismann said. “Last season is over. Don’t look in the rearview mirror. Focus on the windshield because the challenge is ahead of you. If anyone knows that, it’s Tom.”

ESPN analyst Booger McFarland earned Super Bowl rings with the 2002 Bucs and the 2006 Colts. He still resides in Tampa and watches this franchise closely.

“I’d say their chances of winning it all are better than 50-50, which is saying something,” he said. “They’ll be better talent-wise and they’ll have better familiarity with their schemes. The thing you don’t know, and nobody knows, is how healthy will they be? If they’re healthy when the playoffs start, they’re the most talented team in football.

“You don’t repeat because it’s a different team. That’s the biggest misnomer people make. They talk about repeating, It’s not repeating. Repeating is for the fans, repeating is for the media. You don’t repeat. The players are different. If you want to win another one, the biggest thing is always going to be health and the second biggest is complacency. If you can control those two, I like their chances.”

6 Responses to “The Internal Battle”

  1. PSL Bob Says:

    I understand that it’s a different team, but not so much as you would expect when you return all of your starters and most of your depth. Complacency will not be an issue with Arians and Brady on watch. So we’re left with injuries, and to a certain degree luck. My feeling is that we should be able to endure an “average” year of injuries because of our depth at most positions. A year of multiple serious injuries to key players is another matter. So let’s pray, cross your fingers, and/or whatever works for you to keep injuries to a minimum. The Bucs will prevail and bring home another SB trophy.

  2. zzbuc Says:

    I don´t think complacency would an issue with BA an TB12 as leaders, I also can´t imagine LVD or JPP or ME13 on that area.
    My only concern is and always be injuries……..Last year we were very lucky, I hope we can stay healthy again.

  3. Buc1987 Says:

    If there is any group of fans that deserve a repeat and more it’s us Tampa Bay Bucs fans.

    If they pull it off we’ll all be ecstatic!

    Go Bucs!!(And Ira I haven’t seen you in your favorite Italian joint in a long time)

  4. Stanglassman Says:

    Booger is a really good analyst. Tony Romo is the best I’ve seen maybe ever but I really enjoy BMac’s perspective too.

  5. Greg Says:

    If complacency is an issue and it may be it will be in the early going. With the strong leadership on both sides of the ball it should not permeate too long. It won’t be tolerated and if health is on our side it should be fun to watch.

  6. Buczilla Says:

    Thanks for the inside info Ira. You are the best man.