Most of the national conversation around the potential Super Bowl hopes of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020 have been centered around new arrivals like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
But there's another reason Tampa Bay has a legitimate shot at being the first team in NFL history to play for a Lombardi Trophy in their home stadium.
The Bucs made big splashes on offense with Brady and Gronkowski, but they also worked just as hard to keep the band together on defense. A unit that struggled early in the season, due in large part to playing so many rookies, come on strong down the stretch. They were a top-5 NFL defense over the final six weeks of the season, and boasted the NFL's top-ranked rush defense all year long.
NFL Network's Peter Schrager thinks the Tampa Bay defense is a sleeping giant:
NFL sack leader Shaq Barrett is back via the franchise tag, Jason Pierre-Paul re-signed on a two-year deal, and Ndamukong Suh is back on a one-year deal. Vita Vea returns at nose tackle, while the two-headed monster at linebacker is also back with veteran captain Lavonte David and second-year stud Devin White.
The secondary is young but promising, and their progression toward the end of last season, is the biggest reason the entire unit made such a marked improvement. Another year in the same scheme with one of the league's best coordinators in Todd Bowles should have this group taking another huge leap forward.
Brady and Gronk may be stealing all the headlines, but the Bucs have built a balanced roster on both sides of the ball that will make it easier for their new additions to make a bigger impact.