Five Impactful Bucs

June 6th, 2020

Franchise great?

This is sort of a cool, fun look at the Bucs’ past that is sure to spark debate around barrooms across the Tampa Bay area (bars are now allowed to be open, right?).

CBS Sports has a series “Franchise Five,” the most impactful players in each team’s history. And with the Bucs, Jeff Kerr took an interesting angle in choosing their “Franchise Five.”

Three are no-brainers, and they also represent the lone three Bucs players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (no, Joe doesn’t count Tim Brown), Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks.

And this is where Kerr took an interesting turn. While Kerr notes the Bucs franchise has a boatload of stud defensive players in the team’s history, he went with two guys known for offense in rounding out his “Franchise Five.”

The last two spots may not be who you think.

Kerr finished the list with Chucky and Brad Johnson.

No, Chucky didn’t play. But Chucky got the Bucs the team’s lone Super Bowl victory in January 2003. It is also, sadly, the last time the team won a playoff game.

Now John Lynch, Rondé Barber and Simeon Rice are guys every Bucs fan agrees have resumes worthy of the Hall of Fame.

But Johnson, who only played three seasons for the Bucs? Kerr explains:

The Buccaneers don’t have a history of great quarterbacks (perhaps Tom Brady changes that narrative), and Doug Williams is their only quarterback in the team’s Ring of Honor. Johnson gets the edge because he was the signal-caller that brought Tampa its lone NFL title.

Tampa Bay’s defense was the backbone behind the Super Bowl XXXVII championship, but Johnson had a quietly good season with the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay was 10-3 in Johnson’s 13 starts as he completed 62.3% of his passes for 3,049 yards and 22 touchdowns to just six interceptions (92.9 rating), earning a Pro Bowl berth at the age of 34. Johnson wasn’t spectacular during Tampa Bay’s postseason run (54.1% completion rate, 670 yards, five TD, three INT), but managed the game well enough to get the Buccaneers their Super Bowl title. Johnson led the NFC in passer rating, set a team record for consecutive passes without an interception (187), and delivered the lowest interception percentage in team history (1.3%).

Johnson spent four years in Tampa and completed 61.8% of his passes for 10,940 yards, with 64 touchdowns to 41 interceptions (83.2 rating). He’s first in franchise history in completion percentage and second in passer rating (min. 1,000 attempts). After years of futility with Trent Dilfer and Shaun King, Johnson was the stabilizing force at quarterback Tampa Bay needed to win a Super Bowl.

Joe isn’t so sure Johnson is the pick over Doug Williams as the better of two quarterbacks. And mind you the Bucs just waved goodbye to a quarterback that holds many franchise records.

But the point Kerr makes about Johnson is true: Without him, the Bucs may still be looking for their first Super Bowl win and very likely their first Super Bowl appearance. Remember when Johnson hurt his back late in the 2002 season against Detroit, and he missed the final two games? Without Johnson that offense was turrible, scoring just one touchdown against Pittsburgh and Chicago combined.

The Bucs limped to the NFC South division title (on the backs on a stifling defense). Johnson got healthy enough to start against the 49ers after a bye week (and shredded the 49ers). Of course, the rest is history.

If Johnson doesn’t return from that back injury, no way the Bucs beat the Eagles for the NFC title.

But Johnson over Mike Alstott, Warrick Dunn, Jimmie Giles, Barber, Lynch and Rice? Joe isn’t so sure about that. Heck, you may make an argument to include James Wilder (who is terribly underrated), Vincent Jackson, Lavonte David and Mike Evans ahead of Johnson.

That Super Bowl ring, however, is a powerful thing.

33 Responses to “Five Impactful Bucs”

  1. Joe in Michigan Says:

    My 5 are Lee Roy Selmon, Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp, Ronde Barber, and Lavonte David. Honorable mention to Hardy Nickerson, Paul Gruber, Warrick Dunn, John Lynch, and Simeon Rice. I doubt Brad Johnson makes my top 25, maybe not even the top 50. Just my opinion, though.

  2. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    No chance we win the Super Bowl without Brad. If we don’t sign him in free agency, we do not have a Super Bowl Trophy. People don’t really understand the importance of that signing. Brad was a good quarterback and we paid him a significant salary to play for us. My recollection is he was a highly sought after free agent at the time.

  3. Unbuc'n Believable Says:

    Jameis had similar stats in only two seasons …. except turnovers … future ring of honor candidate too?

  4. Mike Says:

    Shelton Quarles never gets the respect he deserves.

  5. Joe Says:

    My recollection is he was a highly sought after free agent at the time.

    Seem to recall the same. Can’t remember other team(s) that was after him. Redskins maybe (he already played for them)?

  6. Sport Says:

    It’s a good list.

    1. Hardy won’t get the credit on this list because he was gone before the SB. His impact on turning this franchise when it was bereft of anything positive will not be forgotten.

    The other two –
    2. Coach Dungy changing the culture and bringing respectability.

    3. The salary floor being instituted. It was not a coincidence the Culverhouses sold the year before it took affect.

    I can’t take anyone off that list. But I could add a few more.

    Cool topic.

    In BA I Trust!

  7. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Sport: Agreed on Hardy Nickerson. He was exactly what we needed at the time of his free agent signing. Tony Dungy was also a big part of turning the Bucs around.

  8. stpetebucsfan Says:

    Brad Johnson was underrated his entire career. He’s not going to be confused with the GOAT but he was clearly a talented and successful NFL QB.

  9. bucsince79 aka bumaneer Says:

    Brad Johnson was an excellent game manager. We got him kind of at the end of his career. He had a laser short pass in Minn & was accurate. Underrated for sure..
    We had alot of talent back then… Sapp & Brooks were both drafted in the same year correct?

  10. ir8oldman Says:

    Yes, Sapp and Brooks were both first round picks the same year. Thank you Dallas, for giving up the pick that was DBrooks 55! Epic draft.

  11. SB Says:

    Johnson would make the list for me at 5 solely for being the QB for the SB. He was an ultimate game manager. Took what was given to him. Sometimes flashy is not what is needed.
    Other than that it would be Selmon, Brooks, Sapp and Lynch.
    Too many great players lost in the mire of a Losing franchise.
    I will keep Hoping though!

  12. BigHog Says:

    Sermon…Sapp…Batnan Woods…D.Williams…Cobbs…FAMOUS…W Dunn…Barber…The A Train…so many more good players that I loved to watch over the years!!???

  13. Coburn Says:

    It may nostalgia since I was a teenager when watching him… But Brad Johnson is the best qb short of Brady that the Bucs have had. He just didn’t do it for very long

  14. Swampbuc Says:

    Brad Johnson is the right choice.

    If we’re lucky Tom Brady will produce Brad Johnson’s 2002 numbers.

  15. adam from ny Says:

    if you ask mccoy, he very well might say he and jameis are going to go into the bucs ring of honor simultaneously…

    that way the glazers can save a little loot and do a 2 for 1 deal…

    in that case, their names will be much smaller and on the same plaque…yes a plaque… all hugged up next to each other…

    this plaque will hang in the locker room of the “beer here” crew that keeps us all hydrated and tipsy in the den of supersession…

    dollar tree will sponsor the game day giveaway as well…a “2 headed monster” style bobblehead, with wiggly mccoy and jaboo jugheads attached to the bobbler body…one bobblehead with both their heads wiggling around on it

  16. gp Says:

    Too much of a ‘homer’ to choose just 5.
    Would love to build a best of team though. Complete with back-ups, special teams, etc.

  17. Wesley Says:

    Brad was a good q.b. who undeservingly gets compared to Trent Dilfer.

  18. adam from ny Says:

    also drew brees in getting in deeper doo over there in nawleans…


    jameis is at home, rubbing his hands together, and sporting an ear to ear smiley face…and thinking “keep it up drewski, and i’ll get my shot at your job”

  19. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Adam in NY: Taysom Hill would probably get the first shot, but yes, Jameis would be the starter eventually, IMHO. I doubt Brees retires now, though.

  20. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Brad Johnson did his job and he was the starter when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, so he’ll always be in my happy place. I was a defensive end when I played, so I’ve never been that fond of QB’s, unless I was sacking them.

  21. Buczilla Says:

    I get this guy’s argument, but I’m taking Nickerson over Johnson. We were a sad sack franchise at the time and Hardy brought an attitude and ruthlessness that the team sorely needed. He was one hell of a player as well and second only to Derrick Brooks insofar as the linebackers that we have had here.

    You can’t name Chucky if you don’t include Dungy. He built that defense (with Kiffin) and we don’t sniff a Super Bowl without Dungy’s contribution in turning the franchise around.

    There are a lot of right answers (Alstott, Barber, Lynch, Rice, Keyshawn, Doug, etc.) and reminded me that we have had a lot of damn good players.

  22. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    Joe in Michigan Says:
    “Sport: Agreed on Hardy Nickerson. He was exactly what we needed at the time of his free agent signing.”

    I’ll always consider Nickerson one of our best free agents, along with B Johnson and S Rice. V Jax would have had more impact if there had been a better team around him. Hopefully adding T Brady to that list!

  23. Barack's Crack Pipe Says:

    @adam from ny

    The McCoy side has to have a gummy smile and an ice cream cone in the hand. The Winston side has a squinty face and an octopus where the hand should be.

    Or, the heads could be mounted front and back… nevermind.

  24. Bucsfanman Says:

    This is always a fun conversation. I would simply argue this: While maybe not a top 5 in long-time fans’ eyes, Johnson never really gets the respect he deserves, IMO.
    It would be really tough for me to do a “top 5” list. I think Selmon, Sapp, and Brooks are obvious picks. The leaning would be toward Dungy/Gruden era players but, man, how do you not put Williams, Giles, or Wilder on that list?
    Shoot, someone mentioned “Batman” Woods?!

  25. FairMinded Says:

    When we signed Brad Johnson I was PUMPED because we got to watch him often with the Vikes and he was definitely in my mind in the upper echelon (top 10? Top 5? I dunno) of QB’s in the league at the time. Specifically remember reading it in the Trib and finding out on Sports Center at the time and early 20’s sports junkie me was very excited. The man deserves his praise for running Gruden’s offense to a T and taking us to the promised land

  26. David Smith Says:

    I idolized Doug Williams for years and when Huge Kkkulverhouse let him walk I stopped watching football for 14 years, but Brad Johnson deserves the nod because of what of what he did while with us. The Bull deserves his due even over Ronde.

  27. RGA Says:

    While Brad Johnson was good QB, let’s not kid ourselves, it was the defense that got the Bucs to and won the super Bowl. When we look back at the history at the QB position, it will be Winston that has shattered a majority of records.

  28. Cobraboy Says:

    Brad Johnson is proof positive an efficient game manager can be the glue for a deep post-season run.

    He wasn’t exciting, but you just KNEW he wasn’t going to do something completely dumb-ass.

    A Brad Johnson at QB for the Bucs in 2019 would have taken the team to the playoffs.

  29. Buc1987 Says:

    It’s the ring… you’re right Joe and…

    Johnson rode the tea cups at Disney!

  30. Grab'em by the yssup Says:

    Oh the forgotten hero Joe Jurevicious, Keenan McCardel, Pittman, Gimme the damn ball Johnson, and Brad Johnson for the offense….we could not have done without.

    We all believed the Iggles were invincible until Joe turned a 7yrd pass in to a hellova 70yrd gain!

    83 Zebra Jerk…Go Bucs!

  31. Dlavid Says:

    Only six interceptions …. big statistic boys ….a difference maker !

  32. Dapostman Says:

    Brad Johnson? My goodness. In 2002 the Buc defense gave up 12 points per game. 12 points! Kinda nice when you are playing with a lead most games.

    In 2003 the Buc defense gave up 16 points per game. Still a very good year by the D but old Brad could only muster the offense to 19 points per game and he threw 21 picks. BTW his 7-9 record wasn’t inspiring.

    Brad Johnson was a good role player for the bucs for 3+ seasons but top 5 impactful no way. Virtually any QB could have won in 2002 with the Buc defense that year. Kinda like Trent Dilfer winning in 2000 with the Raven defense.

  33. Coburn Says:

    Dude was tough as nails hung in there and always seemed to get ball away while being hit. People forget how productive he was in some gamesz especially the playoffs. Those post season games were pretty lopsided