If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are to accomplish their goal of "going for two" - to repeat as Super Bowl champions this year - a handful of select players will have to be at the top of their games all season long.
Therefore, AllBucs has compiled a list of the ten most important Buccaneers entering the 2021 season, ranked from No. 10 down to the most crucial of the bunch at No. 1. Although this list is unique, the most important Buc - who will be revealed at a later date - may seem fairly obvious.
But, who else needs to make a large impact this year in order for Tampa Bay to reach, and win, Super Bowl LVI? While the future of the Bucs' defensive line may be in the hands of Vita Vea, we believe Ndamukong Suh is the most important member of that unit for Tampa Bay in 2021.
If you've missed it, here's a look at our top ten list so far:
Most Important Buccaneers, No. 7: Ndamukong Suh
Last season, Suh led the Bucs' defensive line in a number of categories by recording nine tackles for loss and six total sacks. As for the entire defense, Suh's 19 quarterback hits were the second-most on the team.
From a sack perspective, 2020 was one of Suh's most productive seasons in recent years. It was the first season since 2015 that the 34-year old had recorded at least six sacks. He added two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
In addition to being a key piece to the Bucs league-leading run defense and providing pressure to opposing quarterbacks, Suh has become a leader in the locker room. He recently reflected on his time with the Miami Dolphins, admitting he was "creating divisions on the team."
Suh shared what he was doing wrong in his time in Miami and listed what he did to change who he is in the locker room.
“So what did I start doing that I still do today? 1. I listened way more than I talked," Suh wrote on Twitter via ProFootballTalk. "2. I paid attention to HOW I interacted with people 3. I observed others' reactions and adjusted as needed 4. I chose my words carefully to be more empathetic. It was a total 180. There was less arguing & more agreements. I turned my influence on the team into impact. But most importantly, I felt better about myself and my mood improved.”
Now that he's only being disruptive to the quarterbacks he faces, as opposed to being so with his own teammates, Suh has learned his past. And the Bucs have made it clear they like him and he likes playing for the organization.
Because of his on-field performance in 2020, Suh signed a one-year contract this offseason with the Bucs that includes a fully guaranteed $9 million. It marked the third straight year that he signed a one-year deal to stay in Tampa Bay
Suh has shared this offseason that he is hoping to record double-digit sacks in 2021. It's something he hasn't done since his rookie season with the Detriot Lions. While he only recorded six sacks, Suh totaled 19 quarterbacks last year. If he can convert those hits into full sacks, double-digit sacks aren't out of the question.
What Suh was able to do last season was a good sign to see from him at this point in his career. Prior to 2020, he had been on a downward trend as he got further into his career. Spending the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons on three different teams probably didn't help. Across those three years, Suh only recorded 11.5 sacks, which was less than a third of his total (47.0) through the first six seasons of his career.
Since joining the Bucs, however, Suh has appeared to grow both as a person and a player. He has shown he still has plenty left in the tank as he enters his 12th year in the league.
Becoming a leader for the defense in both the locker room and the stat book, Suh is the most important defensive lineman in 2021 and will be a key piece to the Bucs' attempt to "go for two" and defend their title.
Stay tuned to AllBucs for further coverage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offseason updates, and other news and analysis.