Jon Gruden's boys lay a beatdown on Morris' 2010 crew
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The definition of unconditional love between a parent and their child is when little Jack or Jane returns home from school with an art project. Oozing with pride they burst out, "Isn't it great? I made it just for you!"
Mom and dad aren't sure if their pride and joy molded a heavenly angel out of clay or if this green glazed goblin is better suited for exhibit around Halloween. Regardless, with a smile on their face and a twinkle in their eyes, they applaud their little tot and thank them for the fireplace mantle's latest adornment.
After seven regular season games, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris has just been handed an elementary school art project from his 5-2 team. Where Morris, as a proud papa, sees an artistic rendering fit for the Louvre, the rest of the league realizes the Bucs have traced their hand on a piece of manila construction paper, added a dash of crayon with glued on feathers and called it a turkey.
"We are the best team in the NFC," Morris was quoted as saying recently. Forget bulletin board material, this comment has earned prime real estate on the refrigerator held by a clothespin magnet Josh Freeman made in 3rd grade.
Tampa Bay's five wins have come against teams with a 12-24 combined record. Their two losses are to the Saints and Steelers who possess a 10-5 record overall. Their offense ranks in the bottom half of the league and opposing teams are rushing for over 149 yards a game against them.
I get the fact that Morris is acting like any parent would, protecting his 53 children from media bullying. However, if the Buccaneers are as good as their head coach believes, Whatifsports.com has created a simulation to challenge the strength of the young Bucs.
Using our NFL simulation engine, we had the 2010 Buccaneers "play" Jon Gruden's Super Bowl champion Buccaneers from 2003. The 501 simulations were played at Raymond James Stadium in 70 degree weather and the computer generated the winning score and average points per game for both Tampa Bay teams.
Reality Check: '02 Bucs vs '10 Bucs
|Matchup||Win%||Avg Score||WIS Interactive|
|2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers||78.2||27.7||Boxscore|
|@ 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers||21.8||17.5||Simulate Game|
The 2002 Buccaneers capped off their franchise-best 12-win regular season with kicker Martin Gramatica booting five field goals in a 15-0 shutout of the Chicago Bears. This effort was a microcosm of the Bucs' season. Their defensive DNA (ranked 1st overall) abused quarterbacks for 60 minutes and their offense (ranked 24th overall) did just enough to put points on the board and get the win.
This "Great Wall" of Tampa Bay cruised all the way to San Diego where they pummeled the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.
Like the Niners, Eagles and Raiders that post-season, 2010's "best team in the NFC" failed in their attempt to challenge the Tampa Bay's most decorated team.
After a quick three and out by the 2010 Bucs to start off the first quarter, quarterback Brad Johnson led the 2002 squad to an eight play, 65-yard drive that culminated in a quarterback keeper touchdown from the one. Another three and out by Josh Freeman's club and Johnson capitalized on the great field position. Eight plays later, Johnson found Keyshawn Johnson in the endzone for the score.
'02 OAK vs '02 TB
Super Bowl XXXVII
Before Raheem Morris could say "you're good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, people like you," the 2002 Bucs were up 14-nothing.
Running back Kareem Huggins nixed the shutout early in the second quarter with a five-yard run to cut the 2002 Bucs' lead in half at 14-7. But the 2010 Tampa rush defense turned Red Sea when Aaron Stecker found a hole on his way to a 44-yard touchdown run that retained the 14-point cushion.
The 2010 Bucs showed signs of life early in the fourth quarter when Freeman hooked up with Mike Williams for a 70-yard touchdown strike to close within 24-17 with a little under 12-minutes to play. But they do call him "Automatica" for a reason. Gramatica added two field goals to put the game out of reach and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers took down Raheem Morris' young team 30-17.
One day this Buccaneers team may mature and become a legit threat in the NFC and compete for the conference crown and, like their big brother eight season ago, make a trip to the Super Bowl. But for right now "the best team in the NFC" is sniffing magic markers in the back of the art room.
Create your All-Time Tampa Bay Buccaneers Dream Team. You can draft any player from any season in Tampa Bay history and have them go up against any Super Bowl champion.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.