Some people are fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This 2022 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your 2021 record: 13-4. Perhaps no team in NFL history was better prepared to defend its title than this one. They had every starter back, they played in a joke of a division, and they had Tom Brady. But of course, the future is never guaranteed. And one can never predict if one of your star wideouts will forge his own vaccination card and then strippercise his way out the door in the middle of a near-loss to the Jets; or if you’ll get mysteriously swept by the Saints, including a 9-0 loss in which Taysom Hill can’t complete half his passes; or if the Commanders will ice a game against you by stringing together 19 offensive plays in a row; or if one of your other, better wideouts will blow out his ACL; or if Brady will unwittingly ask karma to pay him a visit after he crypto-swindled one of his own fans to get a stupid football back from him. Normally, whenever I ask WHO COULD HAVE FUCKING GUESSED in this space, it’s rhetorical. But no, I genuinely couldn’t have guessed any of this shit would go down. I mean, I knew Antonio Brown was a fucker; I just couldn’t predict how that fact would manifest itself. To this day, I still cannot.
Nevertheless, the Bucs still tore through the regular season and found themselves as the two-seed in the NFC, with only a perpetually gagging Packers squad seeded above them. All too easy for Tom Brady to indulge in his particular brand of horseshit. This was especially true when the Rams came to Tampa for the Divisional Round and promptly raced out to a 27-3 lead. You know what a score of 2anyinteger-3 means when Tom Brady is involved. Most dangerous lead in football, etc.
True to form, the Bucs whittled that lead down to nothing, and I was left certain that I was living through yet another rerun of Brady winning a ring and then being all weird about it. Except then this happened …
Keep in mind that Matthew Stafford was sacked (and he fumbled!) on the beginning of this drive, costing LA seven precious seconds and their only remaining timeout. A bad omen. The Bucs would clearly stop the Rams, get the ball back in overtime, and then never give it back. Lather, rinse, repeat. Shoot me in the balls.
What I didn’t count on was Tampa Bay leaving Cooper Kupp one-on-one on the ensuing two plays; the second time against a safety, which even the Bills wouldn’t do at the end of an important football game. Sixty-four yards later, it was all over. Here now is Brady in the wake of that loss, pondering his future and how best to turn it into shitty documercial content:
Kupp ended that game with 183 yards on nine catches. Stafford passed for 386 yards. Judging by the Bucs’ two-minute defense, anyone could have passed for that much. Who the fuck decided to put lil’ Antoine Winfield on Stafford’s favorite wideout on the deciding play?
Your coach: Bruce Ari… ***ENGAGE BRADY FUCKERY MODE***
I meant Todd Bowles! I always meant Todd Bowles! Everyone knew the succession plan was going down this spring, yes they did. You might remember Todd Bowles from that defensive masterpiece in January, or from the time he went 24-40 as head coach of the Jets. That record looks a lot more impressive thanks to the Jets hiring Adam Gase to be Bowles’s successor. But it’s still a bit odd that the Bucs had a gifted young offensive coordinator in Byron Leftwich on their staff—after other teams were too stupid to poach him—and opted for the more conservative, and perhaps not alive, Bowles instead. Almost as if the choice wasn’t theirs to make in the first place. Almost as if …
quarterback GM: Tom Brady. The seas will rise, the sun will burn out, and every last cockroach on the planet will skitter to a final resting place. Yet here Tom Brady will remain, engineering cursory game-winning drives, smiling like a fucking android at every press conference, and then instructing his social media team to do a funny tweet. Fox will still count on him to be their color guy in the year 5,423,876 ADQ, only to have their hopes dashed as he wins his 70 killionth ring. He’s as permanent as anything in existence, and I have learned—begrudgingly, I assure you—to live with that fact.
Brady retired for 40 days this past offseason, as if he were celebrating lent when he already abstains from 98 percent of all pleasurable endeavors year-round. Turns out that Brady had no interest in leaving football; he was simply orchestrating an internal coup to get Bruce Arians reassigned to a desk job in accounting. Remember all those stories about how Arians and Brady didn’t get along for the first half of their title season, before they figured it all out and sang campfire songs together? Turns out Brady only gets along with people for exactly as long as they’re useful to him. Bridget Moynahan has almost certainly said as much in a deposition somewhere. So upstairs Arians went. Keep in mind that we all found out this offseason that Brady flirted with joining the Dolphins and becoming a vanity minority owner there. More like Tampa Bay CUCKS, amirite?! Good one, Drew.
After getting Bowles installed as his puppet dictator, Brady peaced out on training camp for a few weeks and the Bucs didn’t give a crap. This is because Brady is planning to join the labor revolution and become the first QB in NFL history to work game days from home.
Your backups are Blaine Gabbert and Kyle Trask. If either man plays well in Brady’s stead, they’ll find a bullet in their mailbox the next morning.
What’s new that sucks: Eager to please Brady, the Bucs have assembled a new super team of old hurt guys to get him his eighth ring. Julio Jones is here! Keanu Neal is here! Akiem Hicks is here! Kyle Rudolph, who was once overrated but is now simply terrible? Also here! And Logan Ryan is here too, now as a safety! Hope you like covering DJ Moore all alone, old man! These men will be charged with patching up the holes left by the departures of Jason Pierre-Paul, Ndamukong Suh, Jordan Whitehead, Ali Marpet, an injured Tristan Wirfs, and Gronk. I believe in Gronk’s retirement exactly as much as I believe Brady was retired this spring, but the timing of this preview demands that I go along with the ruse for the moment. For real though: without Brady, Gronk is nothing. He’ll be back. He’s pretending to study the tape as we speak.
In all fairness (why), there ARE a few more youthful newcomers to be had on this roster. The Bucs drafted running back Rachaad White in the third round because, in a twist, current RB1 Leonard Fournette decided to eat his own contract. They also grabbed Russell Gage from the Falcons and, most crucially, traded for Shaq Mason to replace Marpet on the O-line. Given that Mason comes here from New England, I can’t discount the possibility of Bill Belichick implanting a time bomb inside of Mason’s anus prior to shipping him down south. You know what Belichick is capable of as much as I do.
The Bucs also drafted both Logan Hall and Luke Goedeke, whose last name I will always have to look up before typing it, to fortify both sides of the line of scrimmage. This team is now a touch weaker than the previous two years, but still a contender in what has become a barren NFC. It’s like every conference litters the atrium floor with rose petals anytime they know Brady is staying over.
What has always sucked: The only reason I want the Bucs to win is to stop the Packers from doing likewise. But frankly, I don’t need Tom Brady around for Aaron Rodgers to choke on his own hair. And cheering for a Tampa-area team always comes wrapped in the knowledge that any title won in that part of the country will result in a maritime Republican COVID-19 orgy. So you understand my hesitancy here. I shouldn’t need the Bucs, and ultimately I do not.
Also, Brady looks more like Jared Kushner every day. Antonio Brown’s Hall of Fame induction should double as a covert police sting. I wouldn’t watch Man In The Arena even if Brady offered me a copy of the Bob Kraft handjob tape to do so.
Ratto says: For those of you who prefer your football Brady-free, the end is nigh and his bland/blond/blah broadcasting stylings await only a bit of honing from the NFL’s flavor-suck analyst training camp. Toward that end, the Glazers made a colossal vomitorium of cash cow Manchester United, and are almost surely to do the same with the football team once Brady decides he wants to be the next Aqib Talib. The slow deterioration of a momentarily proud franchise is already underway.
What might not suck: Oh dude wait until Brady becomes an official Divorced Guy. Suddenly his tweets will become a lot less anodyne.
HEAR IT FROM BUCS FANS!
Just your annual reminder that Warren Sapp is banned from all Best Buys.
A few years ago, my brother was really worried about bandwagon fans as the Bucs marched toward the Super Bowl. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that, outside of New England, no one was jumping on a bandwagon so that Tom Brady could finally get a seventh ring.
Everyone is excited about Julio Jones. By the time you read this he will be injured.
The man isn’t finished. Not by a long shot. He worked his tail off for over 20 years and I sincerely believe he will return triumphant. They might have a younger team when he returns but trust me on this: Patrick Marleau will un-retire at some point and play good hockey again.
Growing up in Colorado, my dad hated the Denver Broncos to the point I was not allowed to wear blue and orange together. His “team” was anyone playing the Broncos. I was left to my own devices to find a team. I opened a pack of late 80s football cards, saw that Creamsicle unis, and started yelling out my support for the Bucs. My mom came into my room and started yelling at me. That sealed the deal. I’ve been a Bucs fan since.
One positive is that no one gives you a hard time. Usually once they find out you’re a Bucs fan, there is just a confused pause and then we get back to talking about football.
I have my hopes up for another Super Bowl win before this team slides back into irrelevance again for at least a decade. I will likely have my hopes crushed.
I’m 42 and I got a lot of stuff going on. But if I caught COVID and shared a locker room with 100 other people, I would probably tell my teammates, who would undoubtedly have my back.
On the other hand, if I had to meet with officials from Washington over my extended stays at Mar-a-Lago, I would probably not tell them.
Don’t let the last two years fool you. The Bucs are and always will be the most forgotten terrible franchise in football. The Browns are at least lovable losers. The Bucs are just losers.
People (me included) are convincing themselves that the Bucs are now a destination team, that they are a respectable franchise that people want to play for. But the fart of the Bucs stays forever. The second that Brady goes to the Dolphins to own 20% of them and play until he’s 50, the Bucs will fall back into pathetic obscurity.
The Glazers deserve shit, sure. But they’re so preoccupied with fucking up an unfuckable global marketing juggernaut in Man U and #stoppingthesteal that they forgot that Bucs existed. I bet they still think the starting QB is Mike Glennon. Bruce Arians kicked upstairs because his Kangol hat doesn’t protect him from the Florida sun. The stadium has a pirate ship, which admittedly is dope. But you need some appeal to bring people in when your team goes 5-12 every year and your beer evaporates from the heat. I’m surprised that COVID didn’t originate in the locker room showers.
I have a Josh Freeman creamsicle jersey. All because my dad watched a spring training game in the 70s on a vacation from upstate New York. A history of skin cancer and alcoholism will have to fall to two and three on the list of worst things I’ll inherent from him.
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