Peter King has probably forgotten more concerning the NFL than I’ll learn, but I needed to re-read his 2022 Power Rankings column twice because I could not imagine where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were ranked.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady sets up behind his offensive line
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Coming in No. 6 on King’s annual post-free agency and NFL Draft push, the Bucs are still a Top 10 team based on the creator, but he has some concerns about it staying on the league’s top-shelf.
“I just don’t take without any consideration that 45-year-old Brady will just pick up where he left off,” King wrote. “Even with bottom-feeders Carolina and Atlanta to get fat off, the Bucs will probably be seriously challenged by the Saints (4-0 versus Brady and Tampa within the regular season within the last two years) for division supremacy, even post-Payton. It worries me, too, that each starting guards, Ali Marpet and Alex Cappa, left within the offseason. Brady’s a statue, and anything that affects his protection is a problem. Profession backup Aaron Stinnie and ex-Pat Shaq Mason have big jobs to do at left and right guard.”
On the surface, the concerns are legitimate.
NFL teams have long tried to get pressure up the center against Brady because that is the very best option to impact his ability to deliver the ball. So losing two starters in that a part of the road is definitely cause for concern.
But to call Stinnie a profession backup is a bit of understating of what the player has done.
Stinnie could have never carried a full-time starting job, but he has multiple playoffs starts protecting the very quarterback in query.
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But really, it appears Tampa Bay is getting looped right into a general devaluation of the NFC.
“Have you ever noticed a trend within the NFC,” King asked in his writing. “Every top contender is by some means diminished. The Rams without Von Miller…Packers without Davante Adams. Dallas without Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory. The Saints without…Sean Payton. Arizona without Chandler Jones, Christian Kirk and, for a six-game suspension, DeAndre Hopkins. The Bucs are a part of that trend…Rob Gronkowski’s future is uncertain, they usually is likely to be without Chris Godwin—recovering from Jan. 3 ACL surgery—firstly of the season.”
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver, Chris Godwin
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Again, the 2 recent guards aren’t as troublesome to me – and apparently to many – as perhaps King is making them out to be.
Rob Gronkowski hasn’t signed on for 2022, but it surely sure does feel like he’ll be back.
And while Godwin missing time is concerning of course, the Buccaneers put up 27 or more points in each game they played without him in 2021.
Perhaps essentially the most troubling a part of King’s rankings is not how much he’s doubting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ ability to rebound from such losses with as much talent on the roster as they’ve, but the very fact he has the Los Angeles Chargers ranked 4 spots higher as his No. 2 team for the 2022 NFL Season.