CBS Sports recently came out with an article highlighting each NFL franchise’s best-ever team of the Super Bowl era. For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whose entire history has been during the Super Bowl era, they named the 2020 squad the best Bucs batch. Yes, even better than 2002.
To put it mildly, the Buccaneers have something of a “checkered” history. Every team has its share of peaks and valleys in their history, but it’s fair to say the Bucs have had more of the latter. That said, Tampa has still had two teams that they can call champions.
This isn’t meant to throw shade at other great Bucs teams that couldn’t get over the hump, such as the 1979 and 1999 squads for example, but for fairly obvious reasons, the 2002 and 2020 teams are the crème de la crème when it comes to the best Buccaneers teams.
We have covered who wins if these two teams squared off shortly after Super Bowl LV, but that’s not exactly the same as asking which team is the best.
The age-old adage is that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. Well, the 2002 team certainly proved that. They had an absolutely legendary defense that is one of the best in NFL history. The 2002 defense featured three Hall of Famers, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, Derrick 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.
That’s not to say the 2020 team was one-dimensional. As CBS Sports pointed out, the 2020 team featured the NFL’s third-ranked offense and eight-ranked defense. They also dominated the entire playoffs, essentially retiring Drew Brees and running Aaron Rodgers out of Green Bay. Not to mention living in the nightmares of Patrick Mahomes. The 2002 team may have slain the dragon that was the Philadelphia Eagles and gave Jon Gruden redemption, but they didn’t dominate like the 2020 team throughout the ENTIRE playoff run. Both Super Bowls were pure domination, but it’s hard to ignore Gruden’s shall we say “advantages” unfair or not.
Also, while both teams featured some talent on offense, the 2020 team features a little ballplayer at quarterback by the name of Tom Brady. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. It’s safe to say he has the advantage over 2002’s Brad Johnson, who fairly or not, is consistently lumped in with Trent Dilfer for the worst quarterbacks to win a Super Bowl.
At the end of the day, it’s all water-cooler talk for the NFL offseason, and both teams certainly have their advantages and disadvantages. Let us know what you think of this proclamation of 2020’s superiority, or if 2002 still holds that special place in your hearts.