It took time, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense gelled down the stretch of the 2020 season as the Super Bowl champs won eight straight games. Aided by the defense, Tampa scored 30-plus points in seven consecutive games to close the season after hitting the mark in just five of its first 12 games.
It's nothing new for Tom Brady-led teams to take time to get rolling during the season, hit a hot streak and roll through the playoffs. However, the 2020 campaign added another layer with no offseason workouts for the new players to build a rapport.
As the Bucs continue to re-sign key players from their Lombardi run, tight end Rob Gronkowski believes the offense will continue to improve in 2021.
"I definitely do think we can be better on the offensive side of the ball," Gronk said Monday. "With so many players coming back, another offseason under our belt, another training camp, a full season under our belt, that we can definitely continue where we left off."
Gronkowski was one of those players who hit his stride during the Bucs' win streak, including a two-touchdown performance in the Super Bowl win over the Chiefs. After sitting out the 2019 season, Gronk admitted it took time to get himself up to speed on the playbook. Playing 16 regular-season games for the first time since 2011, plus four postseason games, Gronk proved he could still be reliable and remain healthy through the rigors of a season.
"It was a great feeling," he said, via Scott Smith of the team's official website. "It was something I wanted to prove to myself that I could do. I can play a full season and a full postseason, and at a high level, too."
After re-signing in Tampa on a one-year contract to run it back, Gronk noted that not having to learn the playbook this time around should help him pick up where he left off the season. He added that he's already feeling healthy and ready for the season.
"I feel like I could play another full season right now, if it started," the 31-year-old said. "I feel really good."
As for the free-agent discussions he had about joining his hometown Buffalo squad, Gronk said that while he considered other options, the plan was always to return to Tampa.
"There were a couple of other teams also," he noted when asked about the Bills' interest. "But overall I wanted to be back with the Buccaneers organization. The setup here is unbelievable."