“We’re going for two, and we ain’t stopping!”
That’s the motto that Bucs head coach proclaimed at the boat parade the week following the team’s second Super Bowl win in franchise history.
“We have the best coaching staff in the NFL and we’ve damn sure got the best players in the NFL,” Arians said drawing a huge amount of applause. “Anybody that says, ‘Run It Back,’ Bulls–t. That was Kansas City’s bulls–t. We’re going for two. We’re going for two and we ain’t stopping.
“We’re going to keep this band together and they know how to win. … You beat every damn thing we lined up against you. You did it the right way. We did it the right way. We physically kicked their ass!”
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: USA Today
You have to admire the confidence of Arians at that moment. And remember this was long before the Buccaneers were able to find a way in a salary cap-strapped offseason to bring back all 22 starters – and then some.
There is little question that Tampa Bay will be one of the favorites to win next season’s Super Bowl.
But will they?
History says no.
In the 55-year history of the Super Bowl, dating back to 1967, its been done just seven times.
And in the modern era of pro football it’s been even less frequent.
Over the last 25 years it’s been done once. By who? You guessed it – Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
But a big thing to note, as great as Brady is, and with a remarkable 20-year dynasty, Brady and the Patriots repeated as Super Bowl champs just one time (2003, 2004).
Even with the greatest quarterback to ever lace up a pair of cleats and with arguably the best head coach of all time in Bill Belichick, the duo managed to repeat just once in their time together in New England. The Patriots failed to repeat in five other instances when Brady was there.
If that doesn’t convince you it’s a tough row to hoe, then you probably believe the earth is flat, Bigfoot is real and Nickelback is a great rock band.
It won’t be easy, folks.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
The Bucs front office “superhero duo” of general manager of Jason Licht and vice president of football operations Mike Greenberg have already overcome the biggest obstacle – returning all of the Super Bowl starters. You have to go back to the late 1970s and the Pittsburgh Steelers to find a team that accomplished that. And that was long before free agency that has made it nearly impossible to achieve such a rare feat.
Another reason for Bucs fans to believe it can and will be done, is the man under center.
Brady came to the Buccaneers after spending 20 years in virtually the same playbook with many of the same coaches, yet stepped into the huddle in Tampa Bay without the benefit of any offseason work. That included no preseason, new faces everywhere he looked and a different coaching staff. All he did was lead Tampa Bay to a world championship.
I’m not sure enough has really been made of that fact. Hollywood studios would pass on that script if it came across their desk for not being believable enough.
It was truly an amazing feat.
And unless there is some sort of crazy talent drop-off by Brady or an injury, he and this offense should be even better in 2021.
That thought and realization is enough to keep opposing defensive coordinators across the NFL from getting a lot of sleep this offseason.
Next, add in a coaching staff that also returns intact. As impressive and important as it was for the Buccaneers to return their starters for 2021, it might be of equal importance that there was no coaching turnover other than assistant wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle El leaving for a promotion to become the Lions receiver coach.
Make no mistake, if the Bucs do in fact repeat as champs, or even just not implode, they will lose some coaches to head jobs elsewhere after this season. But for now, they are all back. And that’s good news for the organization and its fans.
Even with all the positives, football has a way of breaking your heart. Ask Patriots fans who saw their team lose twice to the Giants in Super Bowls. Including one that prevented Brady and New England from achieving a perfect 19-0 season.
Somewhere in heaven, Don Shula is still smiling and sending the helmet-catch-trapping David Tyree good vibes from the great beyond. And somewhere else Belichick is still sticking pins in a voodoo doll of Tyree that he had sent to him from New Orleans.
Vita Vea, Bruce Arians and Jason Licht – Photo by: USA Today
You can also ask Bucs fans how football can break your heart. While Tampa Bay might not have been as big a favorite to return to the Super Bowl in 2003 as this Bucs team is for 2021, who saw a 7-9 season coming following the win over the Raiders in San Diego?
Bad bounces, bad calls, bad injuries and bad attitudes can derail a promising season really quick.
Just ask the 49ers who were a fourth quarter away from beating the Chiefs in the Super Bowl in 2019, to a 6-10 record the next.
But this Buccaneers team defied the odds in 2020, so why not 2021?
While history suggests it will be a tall task to repeat, I’m not betting against Brady, Arians and this organization.
“We’re going for two, and we ain’t stopping!”
Go get’em Bruce. Pewter nation is behind you – even if history isn’t.
Bucs Cannon Blast
• I’ve occasionally talked on the Pewter Report podcast or even written a few times about some of my favorite players to cover. Warren Sapp, Adam Humphries, Demar Dotson, Alan Cross and a handful of others were all great guys to deal with in the locker room. Guys that made this job a dream truthfully.
Bucs NT Akeem Spence and PR.com’s Mark Cook
But it hasn’t always been sunshine, sprinkles and unicorns.
So here is my list of my Top 5 least favorite guys to cover in my 11 seasons in no particular order and the years I covered them.
TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (2011)
Winslow just wasn’t a good dude. He rarely, if ever, spoke to the media and if he did it was usually just fluff. While I didn’t particularly like covering him or had a lot of respect for him, I can’t say anyone saw what his criminal future would hold. Yikes. Not good. Not good at all.
G Ted Larsen (2011-13)
Maybe Ted just didn’t like me. Or anyone really. He was better than Winslow with the media, but was pretty much an awful quote and I don’t know anyone in the media who was able to develop any type of relationship with him. Kind of just a standoffish player who always answered our questions like we were digging into his dating life or trying to find dirt. Calm down, Teddy.
S Mark Barron (2012-14)
I didn’t dislike Barron as a person or a player. But as a reporter, he was intimidating, seemed angry all the time and had little use for the media. He wasn’t a fun interview. I do love the fact he once kicked Brian Price’s ass in a team meeting when Price ordered him out of his seat. But Barron, a Mobile native, once told me he preferred Dreamland BBQ over Saucy Q’s. Sorry, I can’t trust anyone with that opinion.
Bucs WR DeSean Jackson – Photo by: PewterReport.com
WR DeSean Jackson (2017-18)
Jackson was just a strange bird. He never had much to say of substance to the media and always acted like it was chore and didn’t want to be bothered. He rarely showed his face during the week for media open locker room and when he did it was usually with his back turned and headphones on as to not be bothered. Of course when you had such little impact and production on the field as he did here, I suppose I wouldn’t have much to say either.
WR Alvin Harper (1995-96)
I covered Harper in my radio days, and part time for Pewter Report – then Buccaneer Magazine – but man, what a jerk. I really had high hopes when he was signed as a free agent but he was a knucklehead in the locker room and off the field. He was just an all-around bad signing, who failed to live up to expectations on the field. After the final game of the 1996 season I was talking to wide receiver Courtney Hawkins in the post-game locker room about his pending free agent status when Harper and I got into it. He kept interrupting every question I asked Hawkins with smart mouth answers. We ended ups nose to nose yelling pretty loud at each other, enough that a couple players and the Bucs P.R. staff had to step in. Let’s just day I wasn’t sad to see him leave Tampa Bay.
Mental note made: Turn off your cell phone when interviewing players via Zoom.