May 25, 2024

Proving everybody wrong is part of Buccaneers’ DNA

“We have an interesting dynamic here, where a lot of these young players that are still young, they came in 2020, let’s say, Tristen (Wirfs) and Antoine (Winfield Jr.), two of our leaders on our football team,” Licht said. “Their first year was the year that we won the Super Bowl … when we first signed Tom. They really know no other way to do things than to try to compete for winning the division and winning playoff games. That’s really bled into all of the young players. But then you have guys like Lavonte (David), who has seen tough times. Mike Evans and Chris (Godwin), who have seen tough times, but then saw the difference in what came with adding Tom. And then Tom leaving and then us transitioning with Baker (Mayfield), who is a fiery, competitive leader in his own right, because of the way he plays.

“I think it’s been a good recipe here. Especially with all of the doubters that we had thinking that when Tom left, we were going to sink to the bottom. I think that has been part of the DNA of this football team — trying to prove everybody wrong. It’s been a great recipe here, and I hope it continues.”

Many expected the Bucs to crater last season after Brady’s retirement. However, to the credit of Licht, coach Todd Bowles, Mayfield and the rest of the veteran leadership, they not only won the division again but also made it to the Divisional Round.

In the muddled NFC South, the Bucs don’t open as the favorite to win the division, but with last season’s success, coupled with retaining most of their core, there should be far fewer doubters in 2024.