Mike Evans said on Monday that the connection between he and Tom Brady is “miles ahead of what we were last year. Not just me and his connection, but the whole team, the whole offense. It’s really exciting and hopefully we can do something really special this year.”
That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses entering the 2021 season in which the Bucs return all 22 starters on either side of the ball. Following their blowout loss to the Saints in Week 9 in which Brady threw for 209 yards, 0 TD’s and 3 INT’s, Brady led the Bucs to 9 wins on 11 tries, and finished with a 64% completion percentage, 30 TD’s, 8 INT’s and 300 passing yards per game on their way to a championship.
Dan Quinn takes over as the DC for the Cowboys. Quinn brought LB Keanu Neal and S Damontae Kazee to Dallas in the offseason to pair with a corner unit that will feature second-year player Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis. Kazee is off an achillles tear and Neal is transitioning from safety to linebacker in 2021.
Dallas struggled to stop the run and prevent teams from scoring on a more than regular basis in 2020, ranking 31 in rush yards allowed per game and 28 in points allowed per game. They used 8 of 11 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball to address these significant deficiencies, including the addition of Micah Parsons as an LB / EDGE rusher.
All that said, Dallas will enter opening night with a reshuffled secondary with significant youth in key spots at corner and a rush defense that was beat basically every week last year. They should get better as the season goes on but slowing down Brady, Evans, Godwin, Antonio Brown, Scotty Miller, Gronk and OJ Howard on opening night is a tough task with a with a second year corner leading the unit, a safety transitioning to linebacker, another safety off an Achilles injury is a difficult task to open the year on the road in primetime.
Throw in the fact that Dak didn’t play in the preseason after a shoulder injury and the Cowboys offensive line is going up against Tampa’s pass rush without RG Zach Martin because of covid protocols, tonight is going to be an uphill battle.
Tampa Bay’s last 3 home wins were by 12, 17 and 22. They dominated the Chiefs in February.
The Super Bowl winner is 17-3 SU and 13-5-2 ATS in Week 1 the last 20 years. This looks like Bucs by double digits.