As we enter the most agonizing 7 months of the calendar year, we look back at the highlights and lowlights of the 2015 season. But the off-season, especially for us Bucs fans, sometimes sends us into reminiscing about much better days passed. Who doesn’t love to watch YouTube clips of that unforgettable 2002 Super Bowl championship season? If you have been a Bucs fan for any extended period of time you have likely heard many refer to that team as “Dungy’s Team” that won the Super Bowl. Here are 3 reasons why that fan is absolutely wrong. Don’t be that fan.
- The Bucs progressively got worse in Dungy’s last 3 seasons as head coach. In 1999 under 3rd string rookie QB Shaun King, the Bucs finished 11-5 and won the NFC Central. After a 14-13 home playoff win against the Redskins, Tampa Bay came within minutes of beating the eventual Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams (greatest show on turf) on the road and advancing to a Super Bowl matchup with the Titans. The following 2 seasons, the Bucs earned wild card berths and had records of 10-6 and 9-7 respectively. Both seasons came to abrupt ends on the road in Philadelphia by scores of 21-3 and 31-9 as the Tampa Bay offense was unable to score a single touchdown in either game.
- The core players of the defense that Dungy often gets credit for were not even drafted during Dungy’s tenure. John Lynch, Warren Sapp, and Derrick Brooks were all drafted by the Rich McKay/Sam Wyche regime. Without a doubt, Tony Dungy deserves some credit for implementing a system with those players that were virtually unstoppable. But how much of the credit should go to him versus defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin?
- Can we talk about the offense for a second? Warren Sapp has been quoted saying that if the offense could have put up 17 points they would have won every game. With losses prior to 2002 often coming by the score of 12-9, 10-6, 13-10, etc., that is very easy to believe. There was seemingly no offensive gameplan in those days. 3 Warrick Dunn carries up the middle for 7 yards and a Mark Royals punt. That was Buc Ball. Offensive coordinators came and went. Shula. Christensen. Steckel. As great as that Buccaneer defense was, and defense DOES win championships, you simply cannot be that bad on the offensive side of the ball.
If the 2002 Super Bowl was “Tony Dungy’s team,” why did Tony Dungy not win with his own team? Does his Super Bowl championship in Indianapolis get credited as “Jim Mora’s team?” Not quite. Although the argument could be made that Dungy couldn’t win in Tampa with a historically great defense and probably would have not won a Lombardi at all if he didn’t inherit a future hall of fame quarterback, one of the greatest players of all time, and that explosive Indy offense. Gruden may not have been a fan favorite in the years following 2002, but credit needs to be given where it is due. Jon Gruden came into Tampa and brought in key free agents and a commitment to building the offense that a team needs to be a realistic contender. He was exactly what Tampa Bay needed and deserves all the credit for HIS team winning the Super Bowl.