Buccaneers: Comparing the current team to the 2002 champions

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Jameis Winston
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 10: Jameis Winston /
8 of 10


2002: Derrick Brooks, Shelton Quarles, and Alshermond Singleton

Derrick Brooks had his best all-around year as a pro during the 2002 season with 117 tackles, an amazing five interceptions (two more in the playoffs) with three returned for touchdowns (one more in Super Bowl), and a fumble recovery that was also returned for a touchdown to score a total of four defensive touchdown (80% of defensive scores) in the regular season.

His accomplishments earned him a Pro Bowl selection, an NFL All-Pro selection, and Defensive Player of the Year honors. In 2014, he earned a bust in the Hall of Fame.

Clearly he is the best linebacker in franchise history, having his number retired and his name placed in the Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium.

Shelton Quarles also had one of the better seasons of his career at middle linebacker in 2002 accounting for 113 tackles, two interceptions (one returned for a TD), and one sack while also being named to his first and only Pro Bowl.

He was clearly a force to be reckoned with in the middle behind Sapp and next to Brooks.
Alshermond Singleton had the best year of his career in 2002 while playing full-time at weak side linebacker for the first time totaling 63 tackles, one interception, and one sack.

2017: Lavonte David, Kwon Alexander, and Devante Bond / Kendell Beckwith

Lavonte David comes into the 2017 after what most would call a down 2016 season. After leading the team in tackles the previous four season his numbers slipped dramatically.

Not getting 100 tackles for the first time in his career was David’s fate, finishing the year with 87 tackles, with five sacks, and one interception that he returned for a touchdown.

Kwon Alexander had a breakout 2016 after a suspension shortened 2015 season leading the NFL in solo tackles with 108 and having 145 total tackles, three sacks, and one interception which he returned for a touchdown.

He has been very vocal on Twitter about being left out of top linebacker lists this offseason, and says that people will be sorry this season and is really taking his role as “Quarterback of the Defense” seriously.

The weak side linebacker position last season was played by thirteen year veteran linebacker Daryl Smith who was not re-signed this offseason leaving the position to be battled over by two draft picks returning from injuries.

The combatants are 2016 fifth round pick Devante Bond who missed all of last season due to injury and 2017 third round pick Kendell Beckwith who is coming off of a knee injury he suffered in November, so that should be an interesting training camp battle to see who wins that position.

Brooks and Quarles both made the Pro Bowl in 2002 and Brooks was DPOY and is now a Hall of Famer, so even though Alexander is probably better than Quarles I do not think that David is anywhere near Brooks’ level yet.


ADVANTAGE: Just slightly … 2002 Linebackers – Brooks, Quarles, and Singleton