As we come up on the last week of the year, it is also fitting to remember, this is the last week of the decade, one in which we won a SuperBowl. Only two NFC teams won a Superbowl in the 2000s, New York GIants and your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
So in doing this Team of the 2000s, I decided not to just pick the best player to played at any time during the decade, I will pick one of those guys if they were that much better than the others, But if someone played a position for most of the middle of the decade, even though not as good as a guy from 2000-2002, Ill go with the longer term guy most of the time. Keeping in mind "Teams of" can be subjective, so feel free to throw in your choices or correct me where you see fit.
Here you go guys...the Tampa Bay Buccaneers team of the 2000's Decade:
Quarterback: Brad Joshnson- He played from 2001 through 2003, and for those three seasons, he completed a high percentage of his passes, was very accurate, and won a Superbowl for us. Jeff Garcia and Brian Griese had good years in the decade too. In a position that has been so volatile, the guy who plays three years dominates the decade.
FullBack: Mike Alstott- For his last 3 seasons, Mike Alstott was truely a blocker, and still toted the ball with good numbers. But no matter what, no. 40 made the Fullback position famous here in Tampa Bay, and the A train is probably the most popular Buc ever. BJ Askew is a good runner up, as is Jameel Cook.
Tailback: Warrick Dunn- Just goes to show you the lack of a dominant rusher here, when a guy who played in the first two years of the decade and came back for his final year ever takes this one, but I just cant give it to Cadillac even though his 2005 year was the best of the decade. Michael Pittman was solid but saved his best for the Superbowl.
Wide Receiver- Joey Galloway- What can you say? 3 consecutive 1000 yard seasons? Thats never happened before in Bucs history. Joey Galloway was Tampa Bays DEEP threat after his first injury plagued 2004 season, and MADE defensive coordinators plan for him in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
Wide Receiver- Keyshawn Johnson- He was the dominant WR on the team from 2000 until he was let go after the 2003 season. He made the tough catches over and across the middle, and was the receiver the Bucs needed to catch the attention of defensive coordinators and players. Antonio Bryant is the default franchise receiver, and Joe Keenan McCardell would have taken this one if not for his 2 year only status as WR.
Tight End- Ken Dilger 2002-2004- With all due respect to Jeremy Stevens who I think is the Best overall Tight End we had this decade, Dilger gave the Bucs a legit weapon when we went from Dave Moore after the 2001 season. Alex Smith was a little disappointing, but again, not exactly a spot on the team that was really dominated.
Left Tackle- Donald Penn 2007- Current - I mean who else am I going to pick? Kenyatta Walker? Penn has shut down some great right ends , he will be fine there for some time, as long as the Bucs are smart enough to lock him in.
Left Guard- Dan Buenning- 2005-2006- Dan was injured in the last preseason game of 2006 and believe it or not, is the biggest cause of the poor start of that year. Cadillac Williams made a great percentage of his yards running left in 2005 behind Buenning and Anthony Davis. Aaron Sears should dominate for another decade if his comeback is successful. Special Note for Kerry Jenkins who was brought in and did well during the Superbowl year.
Center- Jeff Faine- 2008-Pres: Will more respects to Jeff Christy who Centered for the first three years, Faine in two seasons has dominated the spot that calls the protections for the QB. In between (03-07) the position was a serious weak spot.
Right Guard- Davin Joeseph 2006 Pres- Joeseph is kind of having a down year, but who isn't this season right? Davin is probably on the verge of a probowl year, or several years, but lets not forget Cosey Colman who played adequately for many seasons.
Right Tackle- Jeremy Trueblood- 2006-Pres- Trueblood and Joeseph came as bookends in 2006, and got the start when Kenyata Walker got hurt. This side of the line does not have a very dominant tackle this decade.
Place Kicker: Matt Bryant- 2005-2008- Gramatica just had too many of his best years before the decade, while Bryant had one of the best kicking years ever last season, and lets never forget the 62 yarder vs the Eagles in 2006. Very Accurate.
Punter: Josh Bidwell- 2004-Present- No other player really dominates the decade like Josh Bidwell, and in a way that is a shame that a Punter holds that honor! While Tupa punted well during the Superbowl, Bidwell came here via Free Agency from the Green Bay Packers after surviving testicular cancer.
Left Defensive End- Greg Spires- 2002-2006: The Crane he was called, Spires dominated the left side with his pressure on the QB and his attacking of the run. Marcus Jones and Chidi Ahanato were bit players until Mr. Spires came to town. SInce he left, only Kevin Carter has any kind of year there. Its a big need heading into 2010 and beyond, as is every spot on the line now.
Nose Guard- Chris Hovan- Booger McFarland was my first choice, but his time is kind of split in During Sapp and after Sapp years, when he had to play undertackle. So I take Hovan's 2005- Present years as the best Nose Guard years of the decade. This is probably Roy Millers spot to lose next decade.
UnderTackle- Warren Sapp 2000-2003: He was so good, that no matter what, he is the guy for this list. Tampa Bay is STILL trying to replace him. Chadrick Darby, Booger McFarland, Ellis Wyms, and Jovan Haye have tried. What can I say. If you don't like my pick, Suh me!
Right Defensive End- Gaines Adams- OK , just seeing if your paying attention! Simeon Rice just dominated this spot since getting him in 2001 until his shoulder gave out in 2006. Even then, he had his last monster game in week 3 vs Carolina when he tried to will the Bucs to a win.
Strong Side Linebacker- Ryan Nece- He was the Sam Backer in 03, 05 and 06. The Bucs had the no.1 defense in 2005, so you could give an argument that Nece has as much playmaking ability than Cato June there. In not for time involved, Ian Gold and Alshermond Singlton would get the nod, with Singlton coming in as the best Sam Linebacker of the decade, but were going to go with Nece, who as you probably know is long time 49er safety Ronnie Lott's son.
Middle Linebacker- Shelton Quarles- 2002-2006: Little known fact, Jon Gruden was the one who recommended to Monte Kiffin that Sam linebacker Shelton Quarles in 2001 would make a great Mike linebacker, and so he did. Barrett Ruud at times appears to be the guy...Im guessing we will find out, as he has put in as much time as Quarles did now. But Quarles played it almost as well as that Nickerson guy in the 90s.
Weak Side Linebacker- Derrick Double Nickle Brooks- 2000-2008!: Well pretty much...but there is no way you could make any effort to pick Geno Hayes over Derrick Brooks, so this is the second easiest position to pick. Brooks defined the Will linebacker in the Tampa Two.
Strong Safety- John Lynch-2000-20003: Lynch has one year less than Jermain Philips, so its a no brainer here. John Lynch could have played more as it turns out, but Phlip did a great job taking over. Lynch was the cornerstone of the Tampa Two, the Safety that snuck in the box and laid the wood on ...well, anyone.
Weak Safety- Tanard Jackson- 2008-Pres: People forget how often Dexter Jackson got burned in 2001. He had a great game in the Superbowl with his two picks, but both picks resulted in a total of 3 points. Rice or Pittman should have been MVP in my book. Jackson played well when we returned in 2005 and the defense went to NO. 1 again.
Corner no. 1- Brian Kelly-2002-2007- BK never had the public's full support like corner no. 2 did. I think its because the public perception of him is his outstretched arms while Ricky Proel catches the TD against us in the Rams NFC Championship game. But Brian Kelly was a great corner, and Aqib Talib is filling the number in properly.
Corner no. 2- Ronde Barber- The Whole Freaking Decade!: Nothing needs to be said here. Even when people call him out for a few bad plays, he makes 2 for each bad one. He even did well in a new defense. Ronde Barber will forever be remembered for his run down the Vet in Philadelphia to put the Bucs in the Superbowl.
Head Coach: I wont even touch this one. Tony Dungy is a B+ Coach and an A+ Man. Jon Gruden invoked energy into a tiring franchise that needed the juice he brought...on top of replacing HALF of the offense. He did NOT win the Superbowl with Dungy's team, but he could not have won the Superbowl without Dungy either.
I hope you enjoyed this article. I had fun remembering all the players Ive enjoyed rooting for during this up, down, up and now down decade. lets hope the next ten years are fondly remembered too. Feel Free to drop in with your opinions on the players I've listed, or maybe, if I forgot one?