The Tampa Bay Buccaneers now have two Super Bowl teams, but which would win head to head?
With the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers hoisting the Lombardi Trophy after a dominating win in Super Bowl LV, this collection of young talent and ageless wonders now join the 2002 Buccaneers squad as the only two teams in franchise history to win a Super Bowl. Coincidentally, this past year’s playoff run featured the last playoff win for the Buccaneers since that 2002 season.
While these two teams are just as beloved amongst the Buccaneers fanbase, they couldn’t be more different. In fact, the only similarity as far as the team makeup goes is that both years they took the field have nothing but twos and zeroes for digits. One question we can now ask ourselves around the watercooler, comment section, or wherever debates may be held is which team would win in a head to head game? The 2002 team, or the 2020 team?
Let’s start by comparing these two Tampa Bay Buccaneers offenses.
We’re not even going to bother getting into the quarterbacks. If Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time it’s pretty safe to assume the 2020 team has the edge over 2002’s Brad Johnson, who is unfortunately usually lumped with Trent Dilfer for worst quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl. There really isn’t much more to say than that. Honestly, when looking at the rosters, it’s pretty safe to say that the 2020 offense has the edge over 2002 based on star power. Brady, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones II, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, even an ancient LeSean McCoy riding the pine make up an incredible core of skill position players, with Brady and Gronk locks for the Hall of Fame. The offensive line was also very solid for the Buccaneers, so on the surface, it seems like a no brainer to give the edge to 2020, if not for the lopsidedness of Brady vs. Johnson alone.
Not so fast. As far as receivers go, Evans Godwin, Brown and Scotty Miller are beyond solid, but let’s not act like Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell, and Joe Jurevicius were scrubs. Johnson was a former number one overall pick, McCardell a former Pro Bowler, and before there was Playoff Lenny, Jurevicius was the playoff hero that seemingly came out of nowhere. As for the tight ends, it’s also safe to assume that Gronkowski and Cameron Brate would be more effective than Ken Dilger and Rickey Dudley, which is not to disrespect Dilger and Dudley, but Gronk is a GOAT in his own right when it comes to his position.
As far as the running backs go, Michael Pittman and Aaron Stecker might not be at the top of anyone’s Hall of Fame ballots, in fact, they aren’t even on anyone’s Hall of Fame ballots. Mike Alstott would be, however. Technically a fullback, Alstott ran with more power and effectiveness than any of the runningbacks on the 2020 team, and while his numbers might not be as great for the respective seasons, (offense has exploded in the last decade if you haven’t noticed) he is still a legend in Tampa Bay and one of the most beloved Buccaneers ever.
The offensive lines are essentially a wash with both units being very solid. It is worth noting that while the Pro Bowl doesn’t mean as much as it used to, and even then it wasn’t much, the 2020 team had no Pro Bowlers on offense while 2002 had Alstott and, yes, Johnson. Suffice to say though, as far as offense goes, it still advantages 2020, but that’s only one side of the ball.
These two Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenses could be what settles it, however.
The defenses are where this discussion gets interesting. Both defenses showed up and showed out in their respective Super Bowls. They both shut down the number one offenses coming into the games, and both had remarkable feats going for them in the process. The 2002 defense scored enough points in Super Bowl XXXVII to at the very least tie the Super Bowl themselves, surrendering 21 points and scoring 21 with three pick-sixes, two from cornerback Dwight Smith and one from linebacker Derrick Brooks. They also broke the Super Bowl record with five interceptions of MVP of the league Rich Gannon, three we just mentioned, and Super Bowl MVP safety Dexter Jackson recording the other two. The 2020 defense did something previously thought unthinkable, which was not letting Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs reach the end zone, winning Super Bowl LV 31-9.
The 2020 team did have only on Pro Bowler, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, but linebackers Devin White and Lavonte David showed the world in Super Bowl LV that they are studs, as did pass rusher Shaquil Barrett. Rookie safety Antoine Winfeld Jr. showed that he was perhaps snubbed for defensive rookie of the year. While all that and the bag of chips are very impressive, let’s be honest here, 2002 has the defensive advantage.
The 2002 squad features three Hall of Famers, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, Brooks at linebacker, and safety John Lynch who got the call right before Super Bowl LV. Cornerback Ronde Barber and defensive end Simeon Rice are two names that are always up for enshrinement when the time rolls around. When all is said and done, this defense could end up with five members enshrined in Canton. This unit also featured five Pro Bowlers, with the three Hall of Famers getting voted to Hawaii, along with Rice and linebacker Shelton Quarles. The 2002 Buccaneers defense also scored nine touchdowns that year, which further puts them in an elite class.
So looking at these two Tampa Bay Buccaneers rosters, 2020 wins offense, and 2002 wins defense. Now, it’s time to reach a verdict.
This is incredibly tough. Both teams had “advantages” in their respective Super Bowls that are perhaps a little overblown. Jon Gruden knew the Raiders well from his time in Oakland as if the new staff wouldn’t make some adjustments and the Super Bowl LV was in Tampa Bay, rendering it essentially a home game for the Buccaneers, despite a plethora of neutral fans around the country in attendance.
It’s easy to outright choose 2020 because they have arguably the greatest player of all time in Brady. However, at the end of the day, offense wins games/sells tickets and defense wins championships. Not only did the 2002 Buccaneers prove this, but 2020 did as well. Not only that, the 2002 defense would be far and away better than any Brady faced in 2020, maybe even in his whole career. While Brady is the GOAT, he isn’t perfect (believe it or not). The 2002 defense would more likely than not force Brady to turn the ball over, especially at age 43. In fact, the 2020 Buccaneers roster’s makeup features a lot of ageless wonder veterans still thriving, much like the 2002 Oakland Raiders roster did, including another player up for the GOAT title, Jerry Rice. The 2002 Buccaneers defeated that Raiders team soundly 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.
With all this being said, it’s tough, but we’re giving the edge to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team over 2020, but it’s a nailbiter simply for the Tom Brady factor. Let us know what you think.