Big Franchise Marks

April 8th, 2021

Comparing Bucs champions.

Browsing through statistical highlights from last season Joe began to wonder: How much better were the 2002 Bucs than the 2020 Bucs?

Or were they better?

Before Joe gets rolling on that, a few quick points from last season:

* Including in the playoffs, the Bucs had nine road wins. Most in franchise history.

* The Bucs finished the season on an eight-game win streak. They were rolling. That, too, is a franchise record.

* The Bucs scored 615 points, most in the NFL (while averaging 30 points a game).

* The Bucs had 34 takeaways, most in the NFL.

So, were the 2002 Bucs better than the 2020 Bucs? Joe thinks maybe, but it’s closer than you may think.

Think about this: Last year’s Bucs team had a significantly better offense than in 2002. There could be three future Hall of Fame players on offense, maybe more. The 2002 Bucs’ offense will likely have none.

And think about it: Furniture-tossing, bicycle-throwing Antonio Brown, who was damn near a lock for the Hall of Fame before he went mental in recent years, was the Bucs’ No. 3 receiver!

The 2002 Bucs defense was a monster. It had at least three Hall of Famers and perhaps as many as five if Rondé Barber and Simeon Rice get in. Rice is a bit of a long shot, though he shouldn’t be.

The 2020 Bucs defense may have three Hall of Famers. Joe is going to bet Ndamukong Suh makes the Hall someday. The other current long-shot possibilities are Jason Pierre-Paul and Lavonte David.

The 2002 Bucs defense had 47 takeaways (31 picks, 16 fumble recoveries). That’s insane! That’s nearly forcing three turnovers a game! The 2020 Bucs defense had 34 takeaways, though that led the NFL.

The 2002 Bucs team may be the better of the Bucs’ Super Bowl-winning teams, largely because that defense was so legendary. The 2020 Bucs team isn’t far behind.

The playoff road the Bucs just took in the playoffs should be a legendary path. Beating possibly three Hall of Fame quarterbacks in consecutive games and holding Pat Mahomes and the Chiefs to just one field goal in the second half of the Super Bowl? Who saw that coming?

Even that would have impressed Warren Sapp.

Joe suspects history will be very kind to the 2020 Bucs.

24 Responses to “Big Franchise Marks”

  1. Chris Thomas from Heaven Says:

    I like the 2020 roster more. The 2002 defense was so dominant, it felt weird if they gave up a 1st down.

  2. Rod Munch Says:

    Here’s the stat you need to know… the 2002 Bucs defense allowed 31 points in the playoffs, total… they scored 28. They gave up a net 3 points, in 3 games, all vs top 8 offenses, including the top offense in the NFL that year.

    That 2002 Bucs defense is THE best passing defense in the history of the NFL. In a matchup vs the 2020 Bucs offense, I see it going like the Bears/Saints/Rams games, but a lot worse. The 2020 Bucs wouldn’t be able to run on the 2002 Bucs defense, or they’d quit trying anyways, and Brady would be getting pressure in his face instantly without needing to blitz. The 2002 Bucs defense would probably hold the 2020 Bucs offense to 13 points – that would be my guess.

    But the question is, what could the 2002 Bucs offense do vs the 2020 Bucs defense? That’s really something to wonder about. Gruden would go to a short passing game, get the ball out fast, and I think they could move the ball between the 20s, but then they’d bog down. I think the 2002 Bucs defense would get 3 turnovers, leading to a short field, and the 2002 Bucs offense would kick 5 FGs to win it, 15-13 at the buzzer.

    There, I fantasy booked the TB vs TB SB with TB vs BJ in a classic. Derrick Brooks would be MVP with 14 tackles and 2 INTs (probably both on Fournette tipping the ball in the air).

  3. '79 Defense Says:

    Fun to imagine those two Bucs championship teams playing each other.

  4. Buczilla Says:

    Screw the biased national media and their so-called experts, the 2002 Buccaneers defense is the best ever. Only the 85 Bears defense was remotely close and barely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the 2002 Buccaneers defense.

    Even with all of that, our 2002 offense would struggle mightily against our 2020 defense. Brady is the best football player ever regardless of position and only Montana is close, so I’d almost call a game between our two super bowl teams a toss up. I say 17 to 14 2002 Bucs win with the defense scoring its only two touchdowns.

  5. Youngbucs Says:

    It’s crazy some many other records also fell but they’re more individual. What a season can’t wait for the next one.

  6. Billy-43 Says:

    I think the D this year has a legit chance to rival that team in 2002
    3rd year with Bowles almost matches the run in D with Dungy.

    I imagine Oweh or someone similar will add to the rotation too.

    Hoping we add Rondale Moore in the 2nd.
    That dude could be Tyreek Hill 2.0.

    Stock those trenches and free agents will fill the rest again next year.
    Fun times ahead man.

  7. Rod Munch Says:

    Buczilla – I agree, you can absolutely make a case the 2002 Bucs defense, based on their schedule and offensive/defensive ranks of those opponents, that they are in fact, the best defense in the history of the game, or at least in my lifetime. It’s certainly not the 2000 Ravens playing their cupcake schedule of terrible offenses and two times beating up on an expansion team.

    Actually, when you look at the statistical modelling, the team that gives the Bucs the biggest fit are the 1990 Eagles, who didn’t win a SB. They were very comparable to the 2002 Bucs on defensive production and being impossible to pass against. Still, the Bucs won the SB, so they get the nod in a time.

    But without argument, when it comes to just pass defense, there is no argument at all, by anyone with anything close to a workable IQ, that the 2002 Bucs defense was the best PASSING defense EVER. The average QB rating vs Tampa was something like 48. Think of that, everyone in todays NFL seems to average near 100, the Bucs were at 48.

  8. CleanHouse Says:

    02 team was better
    Tired of all this Mahomes to HOF talk, mahomes vs. Brady- absurd media talk really- he’s good but his career could be short- never know

  9. Youngbucs Says:

    I love my 2002 Bucs as much as the next man. But the 2020 team was the first to win a super bowl with a top 10 offense and defense in history I believe. This was a better all around team.

  10. Defense Rules Says:

    Rod … Mine is hardly a “workable IQ” but I’ll give it a shot. I personally agree that our 2002 Bucs PASSING defense was the best of all time. But I have to question whether comparing ‘QB Ratings vs Tampa’ is relevant in drawing that conclusion.

    The 2002 season started off with a loss … to the Saints … led by (tada) QB Aaron Brooks (not exactly HOF material, BUT … he beat us, TWICE that season). Now look at the rest of the QBs we played in the regular season: Chris Redman, Kurt Warner, Akili Smith, Doug Johnson, Tim Couch, Donovan McNabb, Randy Fasani, Daunte Culpepper, Rodney Peete, Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Mike McMahon, Tommy Maddox, Henry Burris, Cory Sauter. Then in the playoffs: Jeff Garcia, Donovan McNabb, Rich Gannon.

    You know all the QBs we played this past year, so won’t go there. Point being: of the 2002 QBs, which ones BESIDES Kurt Warner & Brett Favre are HOF QBs? Several from this past season will very likely end up in the HOF (Brees, Rodgers, Mahomes, maybe Matt Ryan). And we had to play each of them TWICE last season.

    Besides, our 2020 defense was still only in their 2nd year together. The 2002 defense had pretty much been together for 4 or 5 years by the time they won the SB. Comparing teams from different ages is fun fantasy stuff, but that’s about it.

  11. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    Very, very interesting comparison. If I had to pick, I am going with 2020 Bucs and here is why:

    While I think the ’20 offense would struggle vs the ’02 defense – yes, the greatest pass D ever in the history of the NFL, Brady would still be able to get at least one TD and a couple of FGs vs Brooks, Sapp & Co.

    I do NOT see Alstott and Pittman running on the ’20 defense; some might disagree, but the ’20 rushing defense faced some of the best RBs in the league and shut them down. So, no, the ’02 Bucs can’t run on the ’20 D.

    And while Brad Johnson was more than serviceable, and he may get some FGs against the’20 D, Brad is not throwing TDs against JPP, Suh and Shaq, etc.

    ’20 Bucs: 13 – ’02 Bucs: 9

  12. Reddington Neck Shores Says:

    2002 = Kenyatta and easy peasy ankle tackle Pittman. Those two wouldn’t even be on the roster for 2020, much less starters. The only chance 02 has against 20 would be continuous pressure from the front 4-which they could do. That’s the only way to beat brady. But the 20 oline was super impressive- ask chase young and the rest of the vaunted pass rushers. Those guys got nothing. Maybe they get to Brady maybe they don’t but the only fg 02 would get would be a turnover inside the 40 or a great yac from galloping joe jurevicius. 20-9 for 2020. All short fields set up by the D, the longest drive would be less than 45yards. Don’t forget Kenyatta’s biggest contribution to drives- holding #67- you know you remember that one.

  13. Bird Says:

    Its fun to talk about for sure
    That 2002 defense is in top 3 defense of all time …so much fun to watch

    All i care about is the 2021 team better then 2020 team
    I think they could and should be

    Its a great time to be a buc fan bros!

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    So. we have it settled, the 2002 defense is better & the 2020 offense is better.

    One thing not discussed is the level of competition the two different teams faced… that makes things complicated.

  15. stpetebucsfan Says:

    I’d say the verdict is still out. Even if I stipulate that the 2002 Bucs defense was the greatest of all time…perhaps debatable…but why quibble.

    The 2002 Bucs were largely one dimensional. I admire Brad Johnson greatly but compared to the GOAT…unfair to Brad. Meshawn Johnson and Joe Jurevicious compared to ME13…CG14…AB…Scottie..Gronk..Brate…I’ve already forgotten the TE on that 2002 team…I know turn in my Buc’s fan card.

    Point is the 2002 was wildly ONE dimensional. The D HAD to carry that team.

    The 2020 team reached the epitome of what D.R. likes to call complimentary or balanced football.

    We could spend the rest of the morning debating which side of the ball was best on the 2020 Bucs and still come to no resolution because the beauty of this team was that EITHER side could literally win the game.

    The 2002 Bucs had an advantage over last year’s team. They were largely together as a group for awhile and had reached the playoffs. The 2002 team reached the playoffs four consecutive years before getting over the hump in their 5th try.

    The 2020 Bucs were the polar opposites. Yes plenty of veteran players but many different faces including QB and the opposite of four playoff runs to bond they overcame the handicap of Covid and minimal preparation. It’s no mystery why it took till the end of the year for that 8 game run.

    Let’s see what happens this year and if this team can back up that SB. If they fall on their faces like the 2002 team then they’re not special, rather they just had a special year. If they even sniff the SB and make at least a run in the playoffs I gotta go with the 2020 Bucs.

    The 2002 Bucs were the greatest D ever…the 2020 Bucs are a great TEAM!

  16. Defense Rules Says:

    StPete … GRRREAT bottom line!

  17. Swampbuc Says:

    If they played head to head in 2002, Sapp’s Bucs win. If they played in 2020, Brady’s Bucs would win. Different rules. And I wouldn’t sleep on 2020’s LB pair being able to shut down a 2002’s quick passing game in any event.

  18. Buc1987 Says:

    When talking about current players on the roster and the Hall… one has to consider that some of these players are not done yet. They have seasons left to be played with and alongside the GOAT.Brady might be responsible for putting a few more current players in the Hall then there might have been. Like LVD for instance it gives players like him more exposure. Hate to keep coming back to Brady this and Brady that but wow they’d still suck if it wasn’t for Brady.

    Go Bucs!!!(Repeat as Champs)

  19. Swampbuc Says:

    It would be interesting to construct an all star team from the two squads.

  20. Rod Munch Says:

    Defense Rules – That 2002 Bucs defense allowed a passer rating of 48.4… the 2020 Bucs defense allowed a passer rating of 94.3…

    Also, while the 2020 Bucs defense got hot in the playoffs, which is when you want them to get hot — they were fairly average for most of the season, and downright bad at the end of the regular season when not playing the Lions. Again, they turned it on in the playoffs, which is what mattered, but it’s not like the 2020 Bucs defense was dominate.

    Again, a hot streak in the playoffs doesn’t make a team an all-time great — and the 2002 Bucs defense is an all-time great, if not the best defense ever. The 2020 Bucs defense isn’t even in the top 5 best Bucs defenses. If you’re trying to make any sort of comparison between the two defenses, that’s one of the dumbest things you’ve ever done — and you’ve done some really stupid things like said Ryan Smith and Chris Conte were good starters.

    As for a matchup, as we learned from the playoffs this year, a great defensive performance overcomes good offenses, including historically great offenses like the KC’s offense. So certainly the best defense of all time, or at least top 3, would take out a very good 2020 Bucs offense. Sorry if that triggers you for some reason.

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    Here’s some stats comparing the 2002 vs 2020 defenses for anyone dumb enough to think they’re even comparable…

    Expected Points – expected points represent the estimated point value at the start of a given play, based on down, distance, and field position. It’s sort of an interesting stat that factors in bad special teams, turnovers and starting position, all of which might put the defense in a bad spot – plus defensive scoring, putting the offense in a good position, etc. It’s an interesting stat to look at when comparing across generations…

    The 2002 defense, in the playoffs, in order, had 22.7, 24 and 36.4 expected points. Those numbers are insanely good.

    The 2020 defense, in the playoffs, in order, had -5.1, 6.5, -7.4 and 7.9.

    To put in perspective how good the 2002 defense was, consider the beatdown of the Packers this year at home, in that game the 2020 Bucs defense scored 21.7 expected points — that means the 2002 Bucs defense were better in all their playoff games than the best defensive performance for the year. In fact, by this stat, the 2002 Bucs defense had 8 games were they better than that Packers beatdown. If you actually watched the 2002 Bucs defense – you know this sounds about right, but still, it’s remarkable to see the numbers.

    The 2002 Bucs defense allowed that 48.4 passer rating, but also allowed just a 50.8% comp percentage, gave up 10 TDs and had 31 INTs, and allowed just 5.5 yards per play.

    The 2020 Bucs defense allowed a 94.3 passer rating, 69% comp percentage, gave up 29 TDs and had 15 INTs and gave up 6.8 yards per play.

    You do have to account for differences in the passing game, but even so, that 2002 Bucs defense is insane.

    BUT, the 2020 Bucs defense was dominate in the rushing game, well the 2020 Bucs defense only gave up just 3.6 yards per rush and only 10 TDs on the season…

    Meanwhile the 2002 Bucs defense gave up 3.8 yards per rush and just 8 TDs on the season…

    So yes, the 2020 Bucs defense gave up 0.2 yards less per carry, otherwise it loses, mostly pretty badly to the 2002 in every other category, and it’s not even close.

    Again, you must give credit to the 2020 Bucs defense for getting hot when it mattered and playing their best in the playoffs, but to compare them in any way to the 2002 Bucs defense is laughable.

  22. Brandon Says:

    Rod is probably right. 2002 probably wins 7 of 10 games.

  23. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    I don’t think the 2002 bucs defense could play that good in today’s NFL …. There were allowed to be so much more physical back then… Take away the John Lynch making people afraid to catch over the middle (you can’t hit a “defenseless receiver” anymore) …. Take away all the roughing the passer calls Sapp would get now a days and their not as good a team…. They were a very physical team but I think now you have to have more speed and the right game plan…. The 2002 bucs could make a simple cover 2 work because of their physical style… Cover 2 now he’s eaten up in the NFL now it’s more about tricking the offense and disguising what you’re doing… The 2002 bucs didn’t do a whole lot of disguising!! Everyone knew what they were going to do they just couldn’t stop it!!

  24. #1bucsfan Says:

    I would love to see the 2020 offense go up against the 2002 defense. Not just me but a lot say defense wins champs. I still believe this today even in the new modern era of passing. That 2002 defense suffocated its opponents. Idk if Brady evening being the goat could win. Just look at the bears game last year that was a legit defense and Brady did struggled and that bears defense is nowhere near as good as the 02 Bucs defense even with Mack in the bears. 2002 vs 2020 would be a great match up