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Comparing Youth - How Young Have Championship Teams Been In The Past?

On Sunday I wrote an article about the Bucs' youth, and their actual age. Of course, the average age is interesting to look at but it doesn't tell us much - unless we compare it to other teams. So, I decided to do exactly that. I'll be comparing the current Bucs to the '79 Bucs, the '92 Cowboys, the '01 Patriots and the '02 Bucs. Two historic Buccaneers teams, and two teams that marked the start of dynasties.

So, let's start with the '79 Bucs. This was the first successful Buccaneers team, and one that was still very young as it was just the team's fourth season at that point. The oldest starter on both sides of the ball was Dave Reavis, the 29-year-old left tackle. The youngest starter was 23, rookie guard Greg Roberts. On offense, the average starter was just 25 years old with 2 years of experience. Interestingly enough the current offense will be just as old, but will have one more year of experience. On defense the average starter was 26 with 4 years experience, compared to the current Bucs' average age of 24 with just 2 years of experience.

The '92 Cowboys were the start of one of the greatest teams in NFL History. They won 3 of the next 4 Super Bowls, and had the talent to win several more. So how old were they at the start of their Super Bowl run? The average starter on offense was 27 years old, with 4 years of experience. That's significantly older than the current Bucs' 25 years of age and 3 years of experience. Most of this age was located on the offensive line for the Cowboys, who were still relatively inexperienced and young at the skill positions. The same can be said for the Bucs, whose oldest starters are all offensive linemen. On defense, the Cowboys were 26 years old with 4 years of experience. This is again significantly older than the Bucs, who are on average 24 years old and have 2 years of experience on defense.

The 2001 Patriots were the first Patriots team to win the Super Bowl, and they started a dynasty that is arguably still going strong, although they haven't actually won a Super Bowl since the 2004 season. On offense, they were 25 years old and had an average of 3 years of experience in the NFL. Coincidentally, that conforms exactly with the Bucs' average age and experience on offense. On defense the Patriots were much, much older, though, with the average starter being 29 years old with 6 years of experience. That's 5 years older and 4 more years of experience than the average Buccaneers defensive starter.

Finally, we'll take a look at the Super Bowl-winning 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs had laid the foundation for their Super Bowl run in the mid '90s, and were a very experienced team at the time. In fact, the average offense starter was a whopping 29 years old with 6 years of starting experience. And on defense, the Bucs were on average 28 years old with 5 years of starting experience. Clearly this team wasn't built to last a long time, and the Super Bowl was the Bucs' last playoff win.

It's obvious that the current Bucs team is much younger than any of the previous teams. The common denominator for these championship teams was an experienced defense, much more experienced than the current Bucs' defense. While the offense is still young, it's only about one year younger than most of these successful offenses, but the defense is several years younger than most of the defenses we've seen. The Buccaneers are still building this team, and looking at these teams, experience on defense may be what they need most right now.