Tampa Bay Bucs: Comparing 2002 & 2020

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Linebacker Derrick Brooks #55 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in at the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on November 30, 2008, in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Is it premature to talk about this year’s Tampa Bay Bucs team being in the same class as a Super Bowl winner like the franchise’s lone champion in 2002? Well, probably so. But who cares what the rules are? 

With Tom Brady leading a multi-faceted offense and the Bucs defense typically playing solid football, it’s worth a comparison … and the NFL betting lines are evidence many fans think this team is pretty special.

In 2002, the team was built on defense. The numbers below in the comparison chart will clearly show that. Tampa Bay had been a defensive juggernaut for a few years but just couldn’t get over the hump to join the league’s pinnacle. The offense was the problem, and in 2002 the team conjured up just enough of an offensive spark to combine with a suffocating defense to build a Super Bowl winner.

In 2020, things are more balanced, as mentioned earlier. With a mistake-prone Jameis Winston now playing back-up quarterback in New Orleans, and his “replacement” being the all-time QB leader in Super Bowl victories (ahem, Brady), the Bucs have built something special.

Like Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls did in basketball when it came to surrounding the superstar with outstanding role players, Tom Brady and the Bucs worked on building an offense that worked best with his skillset, and improved the Bucs’ football lines along the way. 

Brady requested building up the tight end stable with an old buddy in Rob Gronkowski, while adding an impressive third-down weapon out of the backfield (Leonard Fournette) and another dynamic weapon at receiver (Antonio Brown). Couple that with a solid draft class, and something special was born — even with the pandemic cutting short season preparations.

Now, Tampa Bay fans find themselves in January wondering if this team can win a few more. And, is it actually better than the 2002 group that won it all? That’s up to you to decide, but below is a side-by-side chart showing how the two teams compare statistically as well as how they compare positionally.

Take a look:

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 30: Linebacker Derrick Brooks #55 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in at the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on November 30, 2008, in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

TEAM COMPARISONS

Where did the 2002 and 2020 Bucs teams stack up against the NFL during their 16-game regular seasons? Take a look:

 20022020
OFFENSE  
Team Off. (YPG)24th7th
Team Off. (Scoring avg.)18th3rd
Pass Off. (YPG)15th2nd
Rush Off. (YPG)27th28th
   
DEFENSE  
Team Def. (YPG)1st 6th
Team Def. (Scoring avg.)1st 9th
Pass Def. (YPG)1st 21st
Rush Def. (YPG)3rd1st
   
RECORD (REG. SEAS.)12-411-5

INDIVIDUAL COMPARISONS

Who led the Bucs in key statistical areas during their 16-game regular seasons of 2002 and 2020? Take a look:

OFFENSE2002 LEADER2002 STATS2020 LEADER2020 STATS
Top passerBrad Johnson3,049 yds, 22 TDsTom Brady4,633 yds, 40 TDs
Top rusherMichael Pittman718 yds, 1 TDRonald Jones978 yds, 7 TDs
Top receiverKeyshawn Johnson1,088 yds, 5 TDsMike Evans1,006 yds, 13 TDs
Top O-linemanRoman Obenn/aTristan Wirfsn/a
     
DEFENSE2002 LEADER2002 STATS2020 LEADER2020 STATS
Top sacksSimeon Rice15.5 sacksJason Pierre-Paul9.5 sacks
Top tacklersDerrick Brooks118 tacklesDevin White140 tackles
Top INTsBrian Kelly8 INTsCarlton Davis4 INTs
     
SPECIAL TEAMS2002 LEADER2002 STATS2020 LEADER2020 STATS
KickerMartin Gramatica32 FGsRyan Succop28 FGs
Punter Tom Tupa42.8 YPPBradley Pinion45.2 YPP

Place NFL Wagers At BetMGM

At BetMGM, we have up-to-the-minute NFL odds, lines, and tips to ensure the best pro football betting experience. Don’t miss an opportunity to bet on game lines, futures, and more at BetMGM.

Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered the FCS for HERO Sports, and wrote for so many newspapers he lost count. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.

X