NFL players Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski

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Dunlap: Slow Down On Tampa Bay Bucs

Colin Dunlap
April 22, 2020 - 2:22 pm
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Can I just copy and paste the column I wrote about the Cleveland Browns last year around this time into this space? Perhaps just sub out the word “Cleveland” for “Tampa Bay” and the word “Browns” for “Buccaneers” --- that should do the trick. 

Then replace some of the names and, bam, you have the same feel and thought. 

The situations aren’t entirely the same --- I mean Tampa undeniably has more talent and Tom Brady is eons better than Baker Mayfield --- but there is a lot going on here that is similar.

From my eyes the Bucs are well on their way to doing what the Browns did last summer … winning the off-season. That is to say, everyone in the world (or at least the football-watching world which is, well, the world) will anoint them some sort of raging, huge success before so much as one ball is kicked off. 

They will proclaim Brady and his merry bunch of Bucs, especially now that Rob Gronkowski has joined the mix, a team that can win a whole lot of games and make a deep, deep run in the postseason.

Know what I’m doing? Taking a deep breath and relaxing. 

You do what you like. Feel free to proclaim the rest of the NFC as chasing the Bucs or the road to the title going through Dale Mabry Highway and in through the heart of Hillsborough County. I’m going to let it all play out. 

And you know what I think? That when it is all over the Bucs will underwhelm. 

I don’t think they will fall flat on their face to the tune of 6 wins like the Browns did last season after their undefeated run as off-season champions, but I think the Bucs hype will never be matched by their play. 

It is my estimation that too many giddy with excitement think Tampa (or it is “Tompa” now, right?) is getting the strong-armed and steely 27-year-old Brady and not the one we all saw with some skills diminished who will be 43 in August and spent a decent piece of last season complaining about his receivers instead of understanding that maybe some of it was on him. 

Is Brady still really good? Oh yes. 

Is he still great? I’m not so sure. 

What I’m 100 percent positive about is that Brady ain’t the old Brady and to expect the magic he had even five or so seasons ago is silly. 

And then there is Gronk, who is about to find out that participating in fake wrestling after retiring once was a lot less taxing than participating in real football again. 

Can Gronk maybe give you a couple game stretch where he looks wonderful and makes a gigantic difference? Surely. But after his body has already been ravaged, can he still be the week-to-week difference maker he once was? I highly doubt it. And the thought here is that the safe bet is that he doesn’t make it through all the games this season. 

I mean, am I missing something? Didn’t Gronkowski retire once because of the physical pounding his body had taken? In that time that elapsed since then, he didn’t get youngerand, albeit he had time to heal up some, the thought here is he’s already so battered and bruised that I would never expect him to return to the game dominator he once was. 

Will the Bucs be better? Yeah, probably. But, man, that hype train is rolling at about 200mph and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. 

I’m thinking it is way too much hype. Ask the Browns.

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