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FAB 1. As Super Bowl Champs, Bucs Are Now The Hunted

Bucs legend and Hall of Famer Warren Sapp made news on Monday when he sacked Alabama’s Christian Barmore, who is widely regarded as the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft, during an appearance on the Pewter Report Podcast.

Sapp worked with Barmore in Tampa over a week ago and came away unimpressed.

“Let’s wait for the evaluation,” Sapp said. “Because what I saw when I went over to the Yo Murphy Performance (Compound) was not even third-round material.”

The QB Killa went on to bet that Barmore, who has been regarded as a first-round pick in several media mock drafts, including a couple linking the Crimson Tide tackle to Tampa Bay, won’t be a Round 1 pick in a month.

“I won’t talk anymore football,” Sapp said. “If this kid’s a first round pick then I won’t talk football (on social media) for a full year. I won’t make a tweet or an Instagram post unless the kids are playing sports. It’s nothing personal, but I’ll take off a whole year if Barmore is a first-round pick.”

In addition to joining the Pewter Report Podcast, I also had the chance to interview Sapp by phone where we touched on a lot of interesting items that will make this edition of the SR’s Fab 5. One of the topics we discussed was just how hard it was for Sapp’s 2002 Bucs to repeat. Of course Sapp loved the fact that his former team brought home another Lombardi Trophy nearly two decades after Tampa Bay did it the first time.

“It was refreshing because when your franchise hasn’t won a championship in 18 years and hadn’t won a playoff game since you left it’s been slim picking around there,” Sapp said. “So when I saw Tom [Brady] had the boys all locked up and ready to go and you were going to need 35 to come anywhere close to beating us – oh yeah!”

While Brady and the high-powered Bucs offense was the headliner all season, Sapp was happy to see Todd Bowles’ defense steal the show in the 31-9 Super Bowl win over Kansas City. Was he surprised that the Bucs defense held the dangerous Chiefs offense out of the end zone?

“Not out of the end zone, but I knew we had a chance to kick their ass because they had no offensive line,” Sapp said. “When [the Chiefs] have two guys opt out at the beginning of the year and they don’t want anything to do with it, then Shaq [Barrett], JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), Vita [Vea] came back and started getting good pressure up the middle. Him and [Ndamukong] Suh were working good together. I look at the front. You know me. I look at the front and I keep it 100. The front was ready to go, and we were ready to kick a little booty!”

As for the chances of the Bucs repeating as Super Bowl champions? Sapp would love to see it, but knows first-hand how hard it will be it to win it all again.

Former Bucs head coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Former Bucs head coaches Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I love all this hunky dory, ‘We’re going to come back and win it’ good feeling thing that’s going on,” Sapp said. “Sounds great – until you’re the hunted. Now your ass is the hunted. You don’t know what it’s like to be hunted until you are hunted. Trust me, the worst team in the league gives you their best. It was something we weren’t ready for in 2003. We were not ready for it in any way shape or form. Then the Keyshawn [Johnson] thing with [Jon] Gruden sunk us. It was over then and we had a couple of injuries. You get a 7-9 season out of it.”

The Bucs opened the season on the road with a 17-0 shutout of the Eagles on Monday Night Football, as Tampa Bay ruined the opening of Lincoln Financial Field at Philadelphia. A lackluster 12-9 overtime loss to Carolina at home the next week was followed by a 31-10 win at Atlanta. After the bye week, the Bucs lost at home on Monday Night Football to former head coach Tony Dungy and Indianapolis, blowing a 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter to lose 38-35 in overtime. Tampa Bay would finish 5-7 down the stretch and Johnson would be deactivated for the final seven games of the season.

The problem for the 2003 Buccaneers was that the confetti kept falling after the Super Bowl and didn’t stop. The team didn’t turn the page on the 2002 season after winning the championship.

“The worst three words in the NFL are ‘We got it” or ‘I got it,’” Sapp said. “You ain’t got shit because it keeps changing. The challenges keep changing and the games get more intense. When you’re the hunted, when you’re the world champion – oh, my God. Just go back and look at those two games we played against Carolina that year. What was the score, 12-9? Get the hell out of here! We haven’t played one of those in a long time.

“After we won the Super Bowl we were back in offseason conditioning again in 51 days,” Sapp said. “We didn’t have any rest. We were tired and the biggest thing I say contributed to the downfall was look how many player radio shows showed up after we won the championship. Everybody had a radio show, everybody had an answer and everybody was a superstar. Hell, Martin [Gramatica] is still parlaying it right now with his own show and his own Spanish channel. That championship got parlayed, chopped up, screwed up – none of us were ready for it. I didn’t see the challenge of being hunted because I always thought I was the hunter. Shit…I got a little satisfied.”

That’s the challenge of the 2021 Buccaneers – to turn the page and maintain the hunter mentality. But it’s hard to do, according to Sapp.

“Brett Favre got exactly how many championships?” Sapp said. “One. Exactly.”

Even the recently retired Drew Brees only won one Super Bowl during his 20-year career.

Bucs DT Warren Sapp and Tampa Bay's 2002 defense - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs DT Warren Sapp and Tampa Bay’s 2002 defense – Photo by: Getty Images

While Brady has won seven championships in his 11 Super Bowl appearances, he’s only repeated once, which came in 2003 and 2004, proving how hard it is to win back-to-back championships. Kansas City tried to accomplish that feat this year, but the Bucs weren’t having it.

In fact, after Brady’s first Super Bowl win in 2001, the Patriots finished 9-7 the next season and failed to make the playoffs. New England made it to three straight Super Bowls from 2016-18, winning the first year, losing the second year and then winning his last championship with New England in ‘18. The Patriots would go 12-4 and lose in the wild card round in 2019, which was Brady’s last year in New England.

Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul, who beat Brady to win the Super Bowl in 2011, saw his Giants team finish 9-7 and fail to make it to the postseason the following year.

The same thing happened to outside linebacker Shaq Barrett in Denver in 2015 after helping Denver beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. Quarterback Peyton Manning retired the next year and the Broncos finished 9-7, but didn’t make the playoffs the next year.

“I hadn’t been back to the playoffs,” Barrett said about the difficulty of repeating. “This was my first time back in the playoffs this past year since the Super Bowl year. It’s really hard. Teams are most definitely going to key in on you. Players probably want to watch extra film that week, trying to prepare for you because it feels good to be able to knock off the champs – even if it’s a regular season game. I know we’re going to have a lot of targets on our backs.”

Barrett said the biggest difference in Denver in 2016 was the lack of continuity on the roster, as opposed to Tampa Bay, which was able to re-sign almost every free agent this offseason.

“We also let a lot of people walk in free agency that year, too,” Barrett said. “We didn’t bring people back. I think we cut some people. I don’t see this team doing the same thing. We’re bringing a lot of the same people back. I don’t know about cuts, but cuts are always going to happen. But we’re going to have the majority of the same core guys back. We’re going to keep working and grinding. We have great leaders who won’t let us get complacent.”

Sapp is hopeful that the 2021 Bucs don’t come unraveled the way the 2003 team did.

Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We were the first one to bring a championship to the division and we’re the first one to double it up,” Sapp said. “At least we’re not sitting around talking about one championship. We’re talking about trying to get our third. We’re talking about joining the Raiders with three. That is one of the most storied franchises in the whole damn NFL with three championships. That’s pretty damn good. Some teams are still scraping for one.”

With great leadership from players like Brady, Pierre-Paul, Barrett and tight end Rob Gronkowski that can speak from experience about how difficult it is to repeat, the Bucs will be as prepared as possible heading into 2021.

“It’s going to be hard for sure, but we’re ready to work and we’re ready to keep grinding,” Barrett said. “We’re still hungry. Nobody is settling for one Super Bowl. We know we have the potential to do it again, so we’re trying to make another run.”

FAB 2. The Best Tampa Bay Super Bowl Team – 2002 Or 2020?

The day before Tampa Bay won its second Super Bowl, Pewter Report recorded a podcast at Glory Days Grill in Carrollwood and was joined by Super Bowl XXXVII hero Dwight Smith. I asked Smith which Bucs Super Bowl team would be considered better – the 2002 squad that won Tampa Bay’s first championship or the Tom Brady-led team that was 24 hours away from beating Kansas City in Super Bowl LV?

Smith’s answer surprised me.

“Them, because you’ve got to remember that they beat Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes,” Smith said. “We don’t have three Hall of Fame quarterbacks [that we faced].”

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

In 2002, the Bucs faced San Francisco’s Jeff Garcia, Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb and Oakland’s Rich Gannon in the postseason.

“Average, average and average,” Smith said. “That’s why Andy Reid was able to get over the hump with Patrick Mahomes. He’s everything that Donovan McNabb was not.”

I agree that the Bucs’ 2020 Super Bowl team is the best team in Tampa Bay history for that reason. Beating the likes of Brees, Rodgers and Mahomes in successive weeks and winning three straight road playoff games was a major accomplishment. But would the 2020 Bucs championship team actually beat the 2002 Super Bowl winners head-to-head? I’m not so sure.

I posed the question to Bucs legend Warren Sapp and definitely ruffled some feathers. While Sapp loved the fact that the 2020 Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl, he’s definitely partial to his legendary squad.

“Are you [kidding] me? This ain’t a question,” Sapp said. “What are those two guards going to do with me? That’s all I want to know. And double-nine upside down (center Ryan Jensen) doesn’t bother me with all the bullshit antics he’s got. That’s nothing.

“Then you’re going to put that left tackle on Simeon [Rice]? Come on! Roman Oben and the Soul Patrol can beat the shit out of Ndamukong Suh. They want no parts of Mike Alstott coming up the gut.”

Hall of Fame tight end and Fox Sports personality Shannon Sharpe recently interviewed Suh and asked him which Bucs team was better – the 2020 Super Bowl winners or the 2002 champions.

“All day 2020,” Suh said. “I’m always going to bet on myself and bet on the dogs that I know are with me. I’ve got total respect for Derrick Brooks and all those guys. I’ve got a ton of respect for those guys and the way they played. They paved the way. But the new age – we’ve found some creative ways to be successful and get it done during COVID and all the different things they had to go through. They got to go partying and enjoy their lives. I was stuck at home 99 percent of the time.”

Suh has a point in terms of overcoming obstacles as the 2020 season was defined by adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols. But a team with three Hall of Fame defenders in Sapp, Brooks and John Lynch and two more Hall of Fame worthy players in Rice and cornerback Ronde Barber would match up pretty well against Tom Brady and the Bucs’ high-scoring offense.

Hall of Fame Bucs DT Warren Sapp - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Hall of Fame Bucs DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We will cut [Leonard] Fournette in half, and we want you to put Ronald Jones in the game. Are you kidding me?” Sapp said incredulously. “I know you’ve got Tom Brady, but Tom Brady went 7-of-14 with three picks in the [second half] of the NFC Championship Game. You don’t win that game against us. Which Tom Brady are you bringing? The one that’s throwing 16 passes and gimmick plays to Gronk? You know we have Brooks underneath for all that shit, right?”

With the rule changes favoring the passing game since Tampa Bay first won the Super Bowl, a knockout artist across the middle like Lynch might be neutralized if this mythical match-up were taking place in the modern era. But if this Bucs-on-Bucs championship game were to take place in 2002 it would be a different story due to the physicality that Lynch and the Bucs secondary would bring.

“This isn’t even close,” Sapp said. “This isn’t even a contest. It’s worse than Super Bowl XXXVII. Listen, the referees helped the Raiders get 21 on the board. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers – with the G.O.A.T. – would be struggling to get 10 [points] against us. Last year’s Bucs are a wonderful team for what they did against who they played. But against me, Brooks, Lynch, Ronde, Simeon? Come on!

“You could play that game in Siberia and it wouldn’t matter. What, you want it in cold weather because Tom Brady’s a cold weather quarterback? Don’t matter. But that comparison shit? Stop!”

Who am I to argue with Sapp?

FAB 3. Bucs Need To Find A Veteran QB To Replace Brady

One thing Warren Sapp and I definitely agree on is the need for the Bucs to eventually replace Tom Brady with a veteran quarterback when Brady decides to retire, which will likely be after the 2022 season. After sitting through five years of the Josh Freeman experiment from 2009-13 and five years of the Jameis Winston experiment from 2015-19, I’m done watching this team draft quarterbacks in the first round and then waiting for them to develop – or not.

The Bucs have won their last three division championships and their last two Super Bowls with veteran quarterbacks, beginning with Brad Johnson in 2002. Brian Griese started the 2005 season, but got injured and gave way to Chris Simms, who was a third round pick in 2003. But Simms lost the home playoff game against Washington after the team finished 11-5. Jeff Garcia was another veteran who guided the Bucs to an NFC South championship and a home playoff game.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never signed a quarterback to a second contract except for Tom Brady,” Sapp said. “So where is all this franchise greatness coming from, dude? We got lucky that the greatest quarterback in the history of this game wanted to come to Tampa and win a championship without [Bill] Belichick.

“We got damn lucky that Brad Johnson and Jon Gruden finally meshed about Week 10 when Brad went to Jon and said, ‘Take some of this damn verbiage out of this play. Tell me what you want and I’ll get to it, but I can’t fit in all these damn words.’ But it takes a veteran to do that. When you’re a young guy you have so much shit you’re trying to get done. Shaun King was trying to get a $30 million deal before he got to 10 wins. It doesn’t work.”

For every Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson drafted in the first round there is Paxton Lynch, Johnny Manziel, Josh Rosen, Christian Ponder, Tim Tebow, E.J. Manuel, Jake Locker, Brandon Weeden, Sam Bradford, Robert Griffin III, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Mark Sanchez – and Freeman.

Notice I didn’t include Winston in that mix? Sapp makes a fair point.

“We say we went through five years of Winston like there was nothing good in it,” Sapp said. “The Josh Freeman years – you knew he was on a disastrous trip. Winston is one of eight quarterbacks to throw for 5,000 yards in a season. Did he throw a bunch of picks? Yeah, but it wasn’t like we were losing the damn game back like we were losing with Freeman. We were in a shootout every week, so I’ll take the shootout!

“For a guy that used to ask for just 17 points a game – when now they’re scoring 30 – I’m thinking, ‘Damn, where’s the defense?’ Winston was putting up plenty of points. We just weren’t stopping anybody. What are we going to do in another year or two when the 45-year old walks out the door and goes home?”

The answer? Get a veteran quarterback – maybe a 39-year old Aaron Rodgers or another veteran on the market in two or three years. Bruce Arians has had success with veterans like Carson Palmer and Brady. Heck, I’d take a veteran like Blaine Gabbert over another first-round quarterback.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston

Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I don’t agree with the draft,” Sapp said. “The draft won’t be the answer because we’ll be picking at least in the 20s because we’re going to the playoffs. Tom is not going to set you up with the No. 1 pick on his way out the door with a championship. The boys up in Jacksonville aren’t too happy about this Trevor Lawrence kid coming in. They’ve seen this act before. There are no guarantees with drafting a quarterback.

“We are one or two years away from needing another quarterback. But we got rid of a 5,000-yard passer to get back to this championship, and every time you make a deal with the devil – the payment comes due. That payment comes due in a year or two. We’re either talking about two or three championships or can we get Tom for even one more year? Ouch!”

FAB 4. Sapp Sounds Off On Bucs’ New (Old) Uniforms

Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp has a Hall of Fame mouth and will speak his mind about anything, so I wanted to get his input on the Bucs’ new jerseys, which closely resemble the old glory days uniforms he and his Super Bowl teammates wore in the late 1990s and into the 2000s. Tampa Bay updated its uniforms after the 2013 season and the results were not well received by fans.

Bucs legends Derrick Brooks & Warren Sapp

Bucs legends Derrick Brooks & Warren Sapp – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“We were looking like the old Bucs – we were the laughing stock of the league with those alarm clock letters and all kind of foolishness of having a little child “BUCS” on the sleeve,” Sapp said. “What was that? We went from Bucco Bruce with the earring to the menacing damn skull and crossbones and now we’re going to that? I was disgusted with it.

“We had built something special. We went through a time where no one wore our merchandise. Nobody wore Bucs merchandise. Nobody wore Bucco Bruce around town. We got to a point where everybody was wearing the red and pewter and then you could put the old Bucco Bruce on because it was nostalgic. They gave us an ugly uniform [in 2014] and I just stayed quiet. When they asked me if I wanted a new jersey with the No. 99 I said, ‘Nope, I don’t want one. Don’t even send it to my house.’”

Sapp was thrilled that the Bucs went back to their classic look during the Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden era and won their second Super Bowl championship with the team’s new-old look. But Sapp is a traditionalist and definitely prefers the original red and white jerseys to the new alternate pewter uniform.

“The Bucs sent me a new pewter one and I said, ‘Red or nothing else,’” Sapp said. “I don’t even know what a grey jersey is. I had a grey practice jersey once. I’ve got it at the house. I got the original one and that one looks better than the one you’re wearing now. I like the pewter pants, though. Give me my grey pants and my red top or my white top all day long. But that grey top – ugh.”

Sapp began his career in Tampa Bay in 1995 and played in the Bucco Bruce creamsicle uniforms for two seasons before the team’s radical change to red and pewter that included a logo overhaul. He broke a bit of news to me when it came to the team’s throwback game in 2009 when the Bucs donned the Bucco Bruce helmets and orange jerseys against Green Bay for the first time since the 1996 season.

Bucs legendary CB Ronde Barber

Bucs legendary CB Ronde Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“Ronde [Barber] convinced them to do the throwback year in 2009 with Raheem [Morris],” Sapp said. “They did the Youngry thing and Ronde did that. Ronde had never played in the Bucco Bruce look. Ronde got there in 1997 and he never got to experience the old Bucs uniforms. He got them to do it and wanted to do it because he was the oldest dude on the team. He had never played in the orange so they did it on a Sunday afternoon against the Packers and played great that day. They brought it back out and it looked good. Congratulations, Ronde. You finally got to wear it.”

The Bucs played a throwback game once a year from 2009-2012 until the NFL mandated a “one helmet rule” over concerns that having players play in two different helmets during a season could open the league up for legal jeopardy due to possible concussion lawsuits. With the Bucs now having pewter helmets the team can’t pull off the retro Bucco Bruce look again until the NFL changes that rule, which could happen as early as this year.

For nostalgia reasons, Sapp would love to see the Bucs be able to continue to have a throwback game where the orange and white uniforms.

“I played two years in the creamsicles,” Sapp said. “Of course I like it. The league started doing that Color Rush stuff on Thursday night. The Pittsburgh Steelers were doing that bumblebee shit when A.B. (Antonio Brown) was wearing it. The 1933 Steelers or something like that. They’re just giving the fans something else to buy. Why wouldn’t the league (get the one-helmet rule) out of the way? It’s so stupid. They finally got the shoe rule out of the way, so guys can now dress up their shoes. We couldn’t do that back in the day. You had to conform back when I played.

Bucs DT Warren Sapp

Bucs DT Warren Sapp – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“The NFL is so damn [screwed] up, they don’t know what they’ve got. They have such a market where they could sell everything they want but they’re so dumb to do it. They have a bunch of old people up there that think it’s all about ‘property of [the NFL].’ Stupid. Michael Jordan sells more shoes now because they make them in more colors. That’s it. Just make more colors because someone is going to like it.”

While he loves the fact that Tampa Bay went back to the glory days look with the original red and pewter uniforms, Sapp appreciates the transformational history of the Bucco Bruce uniforms and believes the Bucs should always want to have a throwback game when the league eventually ditches the one helmet rule.

“They’re going to change it back,” Sapp said. “They’re going to bring it back out. I like it. I like seeing the creamsicles because it gives the kids a chance to see what we went through when we were trying to turn a doormat into a destination. Everything had to change back then. An entire mindset had to be changed – logo and uniforms and all. We changed it.”

And the Bucs changed their uniforms back to the classic look – just in time for their Super Bowl LV appearance and victory.

FAB 5. SR’s Buc Shots

• BUCS LOCK UP THEIR IRON MAN LEFT TACKLE: The Bucs were smart to re-sign left tackle Donovan Smith to a two-year contract extension through the 2023 season. Smith, who was entering a contract year, was going to be the team’s top free agent in 2022 and now Tampa Bay has one less player to worry about re-signing. Smith, who has missed just two games in his entire Bucs career, agreed to a two-year deal that will pay him $31.8 million, including $30 million in guaranteed money. The deal increases his yearly average from $13.5 million to just over $15 million per year, making him one of the Top 10 highest paid tackles in the league.

• SMITH PLAYED HIS BEST IN BUCS’ PLAYOFF PUSH: Bucs left tackle Donald Smith might have played his best football from the bye week through the Super Bowl. Tampa Bay was wise to keep him off the free agent market for another couple of years. Check out these amazing stats from Pro Football Focus courtesy of Evan Winter.

BUCS FREE AGENCY IN FULL SWING ON THE PEWTER REPORT PODCASTS: The Pewter Report Podcast is energized by CELSIUS and broadcasts four live episodes each week in the offseason – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at our original 4:00 p.m. ET time slot. We’ve been hitting it hard with the free agency this week and we’ll have a special guest on Monday, March 22, as Bucs legend Warren Sapp joins us to break down the top defensive tackles and edge rushers in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Here are the four latest editions of the Pewter Report Podcast to watch in case you missed an episode.

Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds and Mark Cook were joined by Bucs legend Warren Sapp to discuss some of the upcoming defensive tackles in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds and Mark Cook break down PR’s third 2021 Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Draft on this edition of the Pewter Report Podcast.

Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Scott Reynolds discuss the re-signing of Bucs defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the re-signing of left tackle Donovan Smith and discuss Ledyard’s NFL Mock Draft 2.0.

Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard and Matt Matera talk about the remaining free agent fits for the Buccaneers, including a possible trade for Cincinnati running back Giovanni Bernard.

Watch the Pewter Report Podcasts live on our PewterReportTV channel on YouTube.com and please subscribe (it’s free) and add your comments. All of our Pewter Report Podcasts will be archived there so you can go back and watch the recorded episodes if you missed it live.

The audio versions of the Pewter Report Podcasts will can be found on iTunes and Soundcloud. There is no better time to listen to or watch a new Pewter Report Podcast – energized by CELSIUS – than Friday afternoon on the way home from work, or early Saturday morning during your workout or while running errands.

The popularity of the Pewter Report Podcast continues to grow. In addition to listening to the Pewter Report Podcasts on PewterReport.com you can also subscribe to the free podcasts at PodBean by clicking here and on SoundCloud by clicking here. And of course the Pewter Report Podcast is also available on iTunes and YouTube. Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode.

• KEEP AN EYE ON JURKOVEC: I don’t think the Bucs will draft a quarterback this year, especially with Tom Brady extended through the 2022 season. But there is one quarterback I really like that could be coming out in next year’s draft – Boston College’s Phil Jurkovec. The 6-foot-5, 226-pound Notre Dame transfer played really well in his first season as a starter for the Eagles, completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,558 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions during his sophomore campaign. Jurkovec will be a junior to watch in 2021, and has the pocket presence and big arm that Bruce Arians likes for his offense.

• BUCS ARE BRINGING ‘EM BACK: Bucs general manager Jason Licht, director of football administration Mike Greenberg and director of football research Jackie Davidson did a great job managing the salary cap and re-signing almost all of the team’s Super Bowl participants. To date, only reserve safety Andrew Adams and reserve lineman Joe Haeg have signed elsewhere, and those two weren’t expected back to begin with. Spotrac has the guaranteed money details for the returning Buccaneers.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: sr@pewterreport.com
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FLBoy84
4 months ago

Props for continuing to mention Ms Davidson PR, she’s definitely played a larger part in this off-season than many realize. Just adding TB12 last off-season put a target on the Bucs’ back and caused the opponents to raise their level of play, being SB champs just ratchets things up a notch.

Jonbuc
4 months ago

High quality piece, SR…and props to you for getting on the good side of Sapp, Licht et.al You’re not an apologist/sycophant and I think it’s respected and appreciated by these fellas.

Sapp doesn’t mince words…does he? Kind of a shame he’s not on a major network somewhere…he has great insight and is obviously very entertaining.

drdneast
Reply to  Jonbuc
4 months ago

Sapp used to be on the NFL channels Sunday show until he got into an argument with a couple of hookers in a hotel room.
Very strange that the indiscretion keeps him off the NFL Channel but it doesn’t keep a fat lying thieving traitorous windbag out of the White House.

Jonbuc
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Joe is a lot of things…but he’s rather thin.

drdneast
Reply to  Jonbuc
4 months ago

What he isn’t is a virus spreading lying traitorous adulterous pig who is in a lot better shape than that obese pig Donnie. Sorry you voted for a LOSER.

Jonbuc
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

Whoa, Missy! Not sure I understand where the anger is coming from. You mentioned White House…sorry to upset you, my lady.

Dude
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

drdneast, at least the greatest president of all time didn’t sell us out to China, or release a virus on his own people, or flood the US with immigrants to the point that its now dangerously inhumane for them, like the wicked evil demowits and their leader, the mentally, and now physically challenged, “Lyin’ Joe Biden” has done in their in their ‘stop at nothing to gain power’ movement. Oh, I’m sorry, I guess you haven’t seen any of this since you probably spend your days and nights drooling over the guys at CNN while coming up with new ways… Read more »

revfish
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

I know we really need to get rid of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Nancy Pelosi and whoever else is really running things behind Biden

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

When you stick to football, I respect, enjoy and mostly concur with your comments. I sure wish you would stop with the political nonsense and take it to another forum.

drdneast
4 months ago

The 2002 Bucs defense was much better than the 2020 edition but let’s face it the 20 offense was far superior to the 02 offense. For that reason the game is fought to a draw in regulation time and ends with a TD in the first possession.

Naplesfan
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

No the 2002 defense wasn’t better than the 2020 defense. They’re not comparable. Different rules, different style of offenses to play against. The 2002 defense would have been in flop in 2020 .. and the 2020 defense would have been a flop in 2002.

mark2001
4 months ago

I think we have a couple things going for us when we come to the “hunted” issue. One… we aren’t even the gambling favorite for next year. Secondly, with Brady coming here, and the general wish by many to prove he isn’t the Goat, we have pretty much been the hunted this year already. And thirdly, Since Brady has been through a repeat campaign already he will be ready to lead as he should. And I suspect that Arians and Bowles will not allow the team to be complacent.

Naplesfan
4 months ago

It’s highly entertaining to read all these NFL “expert” pundits expound on why they believe that the Chiefs or the Packers will be the 2021-22 Super Bowl champs and not the Bucs. It just comes down to they still refuse to accept that the Bucs were the best team in 2020-21, and absolutely whipped ass on the Saints, Packers, and Chiefs. They just flat out refuse to accept it, treat it as a mythical fluke unexplainable by the Laws of Football. Great – far better to play with a chip on your shoulder and a strong desire to prove the… Read more »

twspin
4 months ago

I think Sapps take on being the hunted is spot on. Every team is going to give you their very best. Even the bad ones. But the Bucs did something I did not think they could do..they brought back just about everybody. I don’t think they will slip much.But we will see. Its hard to do it twice in a row. I doubted they could win a SB with Brady. I was wrong. So, I will not doubt us doing it again.

Horse
4 months ago

Good Article Scott. I think it’s time for Sapp to step back because he surely would be spanked by today players. He never admitted when he screwed up then and won’t now either.

surferdudes
4 months ago

Sapp, now they’re the hunted. News flash Warren, they became the hunted the day they signed Brady. No wonder he doesn’t have a broadcast career. Not only doesn’t pay his hookers, he states the obvious. Great insight lol.

Ron Potter
4 months ago

I don’t think we will be the hunted as much as Sapp remembers his team. I think some of the NFL is still in disbelief of how we won SB55 and kinda gives the Chiefs a pass since they didn’t have their starting OTs. Plus, we just came off a 7-9 season. We haven’t established ourselves as consistently great like Sapp’s team already had. We almost need to repeat as SB Champs to get that kind of respect. And the midseason turnaround was astounding that we almost need a full season and repeat as SB champs to solidify what we… Read more »

revfish
4 months ago

Guys the 2002 defense out scores the Raiders in the Super Bowl by themselves. They outscored the other teams offense by themselves 5 times. Their o line gave up no sacks i the Championship Game or Super Bowl.

Great Matvhups… Marpet Sapp… Gronk Brooks… Evans vs Barber… Alstott vs David and Vea

Low scoring game could go either way but give the edge to 2002 and an all time top level defense

Horse
Reply to  revfish
4 months ago

we also knew their offense and defense plays thanks to Gruden.

Spitfire
4 months ago

What really happened in 2003 is Granatica was hurt and didn’t tell anybody and couldn’t make a kick to save his life and we survived on kicks. Granatica won over half our games for us if not 75% in ‘02. Without him we were done. Also, against Indy Smith got hurt and Manning picked on the reserve CB and that took the wind out of our sails, but it wasn’t a Super Bowl hangover, it was losing your top scorer with an average Offense.

scubog
Reply to  Spitfire
4 months ago

It wasn’t Dwight Smith who got hurt, it was Brian Kelly. Manning was ready to put on a baseball hat and sit out the rest of the game until this Piatt kid returns the kick-off for a TD following Barber’s INT/TD. Only 14 down, back comes Manning who immediately went after the kid (forgot his name) who replaced Kelly. After not one, but two TD’s in around 4 minutes to tie the game, Colts miss the FG……..crowd cheers……..flag……..”leaping”. Try again. Game over. Disbelief. Sapp’s swagger was gone.

Spitfire
4 months ago

I Love the ‘02 team with all my Heart and always will. BUT! If the post season was the real team we will be this year, this current team would pounce on ‘02. Our ‘02 offense was average at best. Our Defense was I think the best ever, but our current Offense would get enough points to our score what our current Defense would hold that barely average ‘02 Offense. We are just a better all around team right now and would at a minimum edge them out. Sapp had 7.5 sacks in ‘02, he was already on the downslide,… Read more »

Spitfire
4 months ago

Also, the Pewter Jersey is the best lookin Jersey we have. I know he’s got a spot on his heart for the red but red is boring, half the teams have red. The Pewter is badass and better than his dang practice Jersey I promise. This is also the guy that spent 3 minutes with a draft pick and called him a 3rd rounder.

scubog
4 months ago

It’s an interesting debate for which Sapp just might have a hint of bias. Like the 2020 Bucs, the 2002 team really “kicked it up a notch” in the playoffs. While that 2002 Defense had its’ share of stars who were the heart and soul of the team, I think the 2020 roster is better from top to bottom. Not sure even the Brady led offense could penetrate Sapp and the gang enough to score many points, but I also think Brad Johnson’s offense would struggle against the current group of defenders. Much as I’m grateful for the Super Bowl… Read more »

Captain Sly
4 months ago

Done seen every Bucs team for the last 44 years and was never more proud watching us win that first SB in 03’. But in this hypothetical it is not even close. This Bucs team would mop the floor with that 03’ team. Sapp, McFarland, Spire, and Rice would completely get erased by this Oline. And as much as I love Brooks good luck tackling Fournette while being blocked by Gronk. This game wouldn’t be close in my opinion and that’s with all due respect. 38-3 Ass Whipping and that’s by the 3rd quarter, Brady and the starters are on… Read more »

Bradenton BucFan
4 months ago

Enjoyed the article. 02 Bucs over 20 Bucs 31-14 with the old rules & at our house w/o a pandemic No way I Don’t see as many future HOF’s on 20 team as I did back then.Even the 99 team with Dungy & no QB would have been a tuff win for 20 team go ask the greatest show on turf.But, If they go back 2 back then we talking rare air in any generation.

toofamiliar17
4 months ago

Scott, you and Dwight Smith are both doing the same thing – you’re not really saying which team was better, so much as you’re saying which team had a tougher road to the title. Those are two different questions. I agree that the opponents this team faced, cumulatively, were more difficult than the ones the 2002 team faced. Although, let’s not get it twisted – the 2020 squad faced the #2 and #4 scoring offenses of that season, including the league MVP. And against them, our team’s DEFENSE combined to outscore those opponents 28-25, which is just absurd. And let’s… Read more »