Tampa Two. Derrick Brooks. Warren Sapp. Ronde Barber. Monte Kiffin. Tony Dungy. These are most likely the names you think about when you hear someone talk about the Bucs and the turnaround that took place in the mid 1990's. The most obvious part of that list? It's an all defensive list. It's no secret the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turnaround took place on the shoulders of a revamped defense and a monster draft that featured two soon-to-be Hall of Famers. Bucs fans got used to hearing all about the defense and how they took our team from laughingstock to perennial contender to Super Bowl Champion.
While no team can win solely on the performance of one unit or another over the long term, the Bucs were bailed out by their defense for the better part of 10 years. That's a long time to rely on the defense, but they were up to the challenge for the late 90's and early 00's.
The Bucs are under going a similar change now. The only difference? Instead of Sapp, Brooks and Barber, the names will be Freeman, Williams, Blount, and Benn. All offensive names. The identity is changing.
While years past were spent hoping our offense could put up 14+ points and the defense would do the rest, these days are spent hoping the defense can keep us within two scores heading into the fourth quarter, leaving the offense a chance to go to work. The days of hoping for a key sack or pick are over with dreams of late TD passes and big runs taking over. The dynasty that was built on an aggressive defense that ruled with speed is now being built on a second year quarterback who is begging us to call him the franchise with a new toy in rookie wide receiver Mike Williams. The days of struggling offense are fading away. A new era of hope is being ushered in, buoyed by the Bucs knack for late game comebacks.
I was always a big fan of defense. I still am. And while defense will always be part of the past, it looks like the future of the Bucs lie with Free and the gang. The Bucs aren't there yet. We're about a half dozen playoff appearances and a Lombardi Trophy shy, but the changing of the guard is underway. The Tampa Two will always be our foundation, the system that led to the start of a relevant Tampa Bay team. But it's quietly giving way to a new line of thinking that ends with a 4th quarter TD pass. Remember the roots, but make way for the change. It's time.