2002 Vs. 2020

February 15th, 2021

Weighing best players.

You know this had to come sooner rather than later given that excitement will be limited between now and when the free agency dinner bell rings on March 17 (legal tampering opens March 15).

(So yeah, exactly four weeks from today legal tampering begins).

On a recent podcast, “In the Trenches,” former Bucs guard and current popular sports radio host Ian Beckles began comparing the 2020 Super Bowl-winning Bucs to the 2002 Super Bowl team.

Beckles believes a lot of current Bucs starters would start for the 2002 Bucs — even on that world-class defense.

“JPP, Vita Vea, Shaq Barrett, Devin White, Lavonte David — he would have a helluva time overtaking Derrick Brooks but Lavonte David is damn good,” Beckles said of current Bucs starters who would start for the 2002 Bucs. “Defensive back-wise, they aren’t that talented as (2002) but for God’s sake they are all four years [in the league] and below. They are going to be fantastic.

“Offensively? Our offensive line is better than the [first] year we won the Super Bowl. You know what else is better? Our quarterback. You know what else is better? All of our wide receivers. All of them.

“Keyshawn Johnson was a nice wide receiver. He’s not better than Mike Evans. Keenan McCardell was nice. Not better than AB (Antonio Brown) or not better than Godwin. So this football team is an excellent football team with a lot of talent.”

Well, was Key or McCardell better than Brown in his prime? No way. Were they better than Brown with the Bucs? Probably. Joe is not saying Brown stunk but in Joe’s eyes, he was a No. 3 receiver. And the way Brown played this year. Joe can’t say Brown was better than Joe Jurevicius did as a No. 3 in 2002.

Also, though Beckles didn’t mention it, foot-rubbing, car-littering Rob Gronkowski is better than any Bucs tight end in 2002. And maybe Cam Brate is, too.

As for the defensive backs, Joe would say that Antoine Winfield is every bit as good as the good Dexter Jackson, perhaps better. And that’s not knock on the Super Bowl MVP either.

The wild card is Mike Alstott. Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians does not use a fullback. But Alstott was just as good as Playoff Lenny or RoJo.

Fun mental hopscotch here.

Oh, and Joe is adamant that Arians is the best coach the Bucs have ever had, so he gets the nod over Chucky (though in retrospect, Chucky did a helluva job with that offense he rebuilt and restocked in 2002).

44 Responses to “2002 Vs. 2020”

  1. HeyItsAdam Says:

    To this day, I cannot fathom why Leftwich couldn’t or didn’t figure out a way to design a handful of plays where both LF and RoJo were in the backfield TOGETHER.

  2. Dewey Selmon Says:

    That 02 team got the monkey off our back, 0-26, Johnny Carson, the Yucs. the 2020 team is like throwing a bunch of ingredients together for a gumbo and it comes out perfect. I would take the 2020 team due to Brady.

  3. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    All year Beckles trashed the Bucs – well, not late in the season – now we are a superteam

  4. Cannon Says:

    I’m a die hard fan of the Sapp, Brookes, Lynch, and Barber days.

    In fact, I wore my Sapp jersey all this season.

    …but I honestly think that our 2020 squad would crush the 2002 Bucs.

    I think I need to finally buy a new jersey…

  5. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    One of the oddities that connect both teams is that both teams lost twice to the Saints.

    When the 2nd game came up, I kind of thought, wouldn’t it be odd if they lost.

    That would cement the deal for me and they did lose in historic fashion.

  6. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Legitimately unsure how A-Train is the wildcard as if he’s the “defacto.” I’m 42 so I was an adult, and had rational thought during the first Super Bowl team and I’d like to believe I’m not drunk on regency bias – and this current Bucs team, in terms of superstars, talent etc etc. It frankly isn’t close. Our current offensive for starters – is superior, in fact our line has a chance to be the best in the league with 2 guys who might be the best at their position (Jensen/Wirfs.) Receiver wise, was Keyshawn at any point considered an elite receiver? Seriously – numbers wise a car dell had a better career, key was a very good possession receivers. They were all possession receivers actually whereas this current Bucs team has GAME BREAKERS. Tight end and quarterback isn’t even worth discussion because that comparison is a joke. Defensively – going in to Green Bay and stopping the MVP, the second most gifted quarterback off all time in Aaron Rodgers and then stopping Patrick Mahomes is much much MUCH more impressive than Jeff freaking Garcia and rich freaking Gannon. Also there are a few videos on YOUTUBE that break down an all-22 of the Super Bowl and Kansas City’s priority of stopping Vita Vea – did you know that man was triple teamed a bunch? Is it no coincidence that Barrett and JPP came alive again when he came back? The point is, there are actually a handful of the 2020 Bucs defense that would start on that 2002 team. Conversely, there is not a single soul on that 02 offense that would even see the field on this current Bucs team. Ok Alstott on a goal line situation or something…

  7. August 1976 Buc Says:

    I go with the 2020 Bucs, even thou the 2002 Bucs had a top 10 defense in the history of the NFL. The Offensive line is definately better. And with Mr 7 Rings, the living legend Brady at QB, up grade there too lol. Anyways it is fun to even talk about this. A whole lot better than the dumpster fire talk lol, since 2002. lol Hey KC Siege the day baby ha ha ha GO BUCS!!!!!

  8. Robert Says:

    looks like he is pinching a loaf

  9. Leighroy Says:

    Hey it’s Adam: not hard to figure out why bc it’s a bad idea.

    Who are you taking off the field: Evans, Godwin, Gronk, AB or Brate? And what are you getting in return for subbing one of those guys out for a running back who can’t catch, especially when neither one can run-block for the other? Go play fantasy football on Madden

  10. ManzielMadness Says:

    Had the same conversation with a buddy of mine a couple days ago. Would be a fun battle but it would be hard to compare with all the rule changes (anyone remember when Michael Pittman suffered a concussion against the Eagles back in 02 and then came back to play in the game??). However, Brady’s Kryptonite has always been going up against a defense that can get pressure with the front four and not allow him to step up in the pocket. Sapp, Rice and Booger would’ve made life tough for Brady.

  11. SB : Your comment is awaiting moderation. Says:

    Why are you leaving Dwight Smith out Joe!???????????
    He only had Two Pick Sixes!

  12. Drunkinybor Says:

    It’s close between Keenen McCardell and Godwin. Don’t forget his Jaguars days. Plus he did score 2 touchdowns in that 2002 superbowl.

  13. Joe Says:

    Why are you leaving Dwight Smith out Joe!???????????

    First Joe wasn’t going to list both rosters. If people want to look at the rosters, that is what pro-football-reference is for.

    Second, Smith had a great game — but he wasn’t a starter.

  14. Joe Says:

    Don’t forget his Jaguars days.

    Not about his Jags days.

  15. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I have been a Bucs fan, since the beginning. No disrespect intended, but I honestly think that our 2020 team would crush the 2002 Bucs.
    Both defenses are great, but the 2020 Bucs offense would be the difference in a game between the 2002 and 2020 Bucs.

  16. I CARE NOW Says:

    The A Train would have to be the only offensive player to make the 2020 team simply because his Nickname was established way before the playoffs. If he would he was the “Playoff Train” for many years. Without him we don’t make those great runs in the late 90’s and we likely don’t get to the SB in 2002. Check yo sheet.

    Plus he was an EXCELLENT receiving and blocking back. We could have ran him and ROJO or Lenny out there at the same time.

    On D. Honestly, the 2020 team is younger and more athletic. While I love my 2002 team. They are just the mother to my kids now. My new Girl is MUCH MUCH more attractive.

  17. Buxszntkt Says:

    Beckles better be careful there, he looks like he is about to drop a nut !

  18. Coburn Says:

    Pittman wasn’t exactly a stud, but if we are only going by superbowl performance I seem to recall head one of the best games of his career. And yeah Keenan mccardell was pretty darn good. Godwin faded in playoffs.

  19. Tackleblockwin Says:

    I’m not going to compare talent because it just is not fair. The game was different back in 2002-2003. Teams were built differently. But one thing I will mention is this. The 2002-2003 offense had some smart smart cookies on offense. They all had to learn John Gruden’s crazy verbiage and playbook. Both quarterbacks, Johnson and Brady had to learn a new offense on the fly, and both gradually became more comfortable as the season progressed, and peaked at the right time.

  20. christina olive Says:

    I would have loved to see Rojo and playoff Lenny on the field at the same time, if we can keep LF we gotta design a few plays with a stacked backfield 🔥🔥 I would have loved to see these guys all playing together 😱 Brown did his thing considering the circumstance. Can’t wait for 2021 ☠️🔥❄️

  21. Lamarcus Says:

    That’s what 2002 alot more impressive because we wasn’t superior talented like the rest of league and winning a SB with a 6 time winning Qb.

  22. TampaTown Says:

    I care:
    Great analogy but kinda yucky that you left your wife and mother of your children for a younger woman 😂

  23. buxsxntkt Says:

    I’d say they were both pretty friggin impressive in their own way Lamarcus. 2002 was the number 1 defense, that means they were super talented !
    This year we had a bunch of rookies, 2nd and 3rd year DB’s that peaked at the right time and held it together while we head a excellent but not number 1 offense. (although I would say we had the best offensive roster when you put them all together ).

  24. buxsxntkt Says:

    well consider the mother is gray haired, smokes cigars and is overweight now !

  25. 6throundpick Says:

    More runs (for the prize) on the way. From here, it’s about positioning; can’t win on the road every year. A playoff bye would be better than nice; some years, it’s a necessity. Who will be healthy and peaking in December/Jan. Are you thinking like that, yet?

  26. BradyBucs Says:

    Is Ndog still on his Jameis Grief Tour?

    Asking for a friend.

  27. BradyBucs Says:

    Jameis-Lovers like Lamarcus has to suffer with our Brady-led Super Bowl win so now they’ll be left with the “2002 Bucs were much better” schtick, you watch.

  28. SlyPirate Says:


    Simeon Rice vs Donovan Smith
    Warren Sapp vs Aaron Stinnie
    Lynch, Barber, Brooks, Quarles blitzing.

    OMG! It would be a Brady bloodbath. This game would be a joke.

    2002 beats 2020 all day every day.

  29. First Down Tampa Bay Says:

    The 2002 Bucs Defense blew out the Raiders and MVP Rich Gannon. With all due respect, the 2002 Raiders are certainly not Andy Reid and the Chiefs, and Rich Gannon is certainly not Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is a generation talent, and we made him look like a scrub.

    Most dominant and impressive win in Superbowl history. Yeah.

  30. Robert Says:

    I think the 02 defense would have given brady a fight for his life.

    It would be a good game… 50/50 I’d say.

  31. I CARE NOW Says:

    LOL, I never said I was married or that I dumped her.

    In all honesty, I don’t have kids, or for that matter an X that is gray haired and smokes cigars. She prefers Pall Malls. LOL

  32. I CARE NOW Says:

    It would be a good game for sure.

    Far more competitive and entertaining then playing the 2020 Chiefs thats for sure.

    The Best part about it would be… BUCS WIN BUCS WIN…. Fire the Cannons!!!

  33. Buxszntkt Says:

    Pall Malls so she’s a smart lady smoking filtered cigs, lol

  34. Anonymous Says:

    When you absolutely need a catch I will McCardell over Godwin or AB.

  35. Bucoff Says:

    A lot of people are comparing the 2002 Bucs defense and the 2020 Bucs defense.

    I will never forget our first super bowl, and my favorite game of the season, the nfc championship, in which barber pick 6’d mcnabb, to send us to the super bowl.

    I will not debate the offense as 2020 is led by the goat and there is no debate there; maybe Alstott or Keyshawn, or Christy, maybe.

    However I compiled a 4-3 defense starting 11 and only 4 2020 Bucs get In that starting 11. No disrespect to the 2020 defense, but we had 3 hall of famers in that D, but there should be 5 with Rice and Barber. Only time will tell if the 2020 defense can live up to the greatness the 2002 defense was.

    Barber, Lynch, Winfield, Kelly

    Brooks, Quarles, David

    Rice, Sapp, Suh, JPP


    Joe your evaluation of Brown couldn’t be more inaccurate. He didn’t start the season with the team and how was his performance in Evan’s absence? Brate had better stats than Gronk that doesn’t mean he is a better TE. There was NO receiver on the 2002 Bucs as good as Brown. He is also better than Evan’s and Godwin, no disrespect to them they are great. I agree A-Train is the only player that would start on the 2020 O.

  37. 813bucboi Says:


    Not only is it a horrible idea but why fix something that ain’t broke….we put over 30 per game…


  38. Miller5252 Says:

    Everyone agrees that 2020 team had the better offense, hands down. I think the kicker would be what year you would play in. The rules nowadays favor the offenses and things that happened in 02 would never fly in 2020. But trying to bet against that 02 defense would be really hard to do. With the 2020 Super Bowl Bucs D I don’t think the 02 Bucs could win. It would be a heck of a game to watch!

  39. Buczilla Says:

    Guys are bigger, faster, and stronger now than they were 20 years ago, so I give a slight edge to our current team. Everything being equal? Sapp and crew wreck havoc on the current squad, Brady or no Brady. Our 2002 squad was ridiculously good against the pass and Brady wouldn’t have time to breathe, much less pass. Our offensive line played well this year no doubt, but our 2002 defensive line would eat their lunch, sit in their lazy boy, and kick their dogs for good measure on the way to an utter a$$ whupping.

    Look, I’m as drunk with happiness as anyone over our recent Superbowl win, but you have to be realistic about these things. 😜

  40. HeyItsAdam Says:

    Leighroy, the pimple,

    I said a HANDFUL of plays. Somehow Sean Payton figured out how to get two QBs on the field. The Dolphins had Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown on the field. We need two TEs EVERY DOWN? We need 3 WRs EVERY DOWN.

    I’ve forgotten more about football then you’ll ever remember, you insignificant tick turd.

  41. Eric Says:

    Both teams beat Andy Reid.

  42. Joe Says:

    Both teams beat Andy Reid.

    True! 🙂

  43. Bellingham Bucs Fan Says:

    02 Bucs started to let the Raiders back into it for a bit.
    These Bucs did no such thing.

  44. View from 132 Says:

    Idiotic, as usual, from the retired lineman. Lavonte is good, but no way in hell he’s in Brooks league.