Ranking the all-time Bucs by their positions

by Gary Shelton on October 10, 2018 · 2 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Doug Williams was a high-impact player  for the Bucs./JEFFREY S. KING

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Around here, excellence may run fast. It does not, however, run deep.

Frankly speaking, the Tampa Bay Bucs have had only a smattering of stars in its history. For every Brad Johnson there is a Josh Freeman. For every James Wilder, there is a Doug Martin. For every Jimmie Giles, there is a Kellen Winslow Jr.

You get the picture. Our top 10s run about five deep. Maybe four.

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And perhaps that's what's wrong with the Bucs. For a franchise that has had a lot of losing seasons, and a lot of lousy players, this season really hasn't distinguished itself. Shouldn't there be a couple of Pro Bowlers scattered throughout the roster? Shouldn't there be a star?

So be your own guide on where, in each category, the excellence fades.

Then wonder why there aren't more nominations from this team.

The Top 10s

Head coaches

1. Tony Dungy ... The Bucs had their best decade (regular season) under Dungy, reaching the playoffs four times in his six years. The eternal argument was if he was better than Gruden, but for consistency and building, there is no question.

2. Jon Gruden ... Gruden provided a burst of energy that pushed the Bucs over the top in his first season. He never repeated the success, but he's in the Ring of Honor.

3. John McKay ... For a guy who lost his first 26 games, McKay was a landmark. He got to the playoffs in just four seasons.

4. Sam Wyche ... A flighty guy who wanted to change too much all at once but he did win 23 games, fourth on the team's list.

5. Dirk Koetter ... Koetter is active, so his record will change. But he needs to plug a lot of holes.

6. Ray Perkins ... Owner Hugh Culverhouse referred to Perkins as "his Vince Lombardi." Maybe he meant he was his "Carol Lombard."

7. Greg Schiano ... Old Sgt. Hulka was good at getting the toes on the line and comparing pasta shapes. He just wasn't ready for the NFL.

8. Raheem Morris ... Morris was filled with enthusiasm, but he lacked the roster to win. He had terrible support from the front office.

9. Lovie Smith ... Smith stayed out of coaching for a year, but it felt like forever. He was gone after two painful seasons.

10. Leeman Bennett ... Bennett won only four games in two years and was surprised he didn't get an extension. He ranks ahead of only Richard Williamson on the team's all-time list.

General Managers

1. Rich McKay ... Got a stadium built and won a Super Bowl. Headed the great '95 draft.

2. Jason Licht ... A lot of his legacy will depend upon the way Jameis Winston is remembered.

3. Mark Dominik ... The moves he made were bad, but he also tried to trade for Jay Cutler and Albert Haynesworth.

4. Phil Krueger ,,, A glorified pencil pusher whose main job was to make sure the (low) finances added up.

5. Bruce Allen ... Jon Gruden's strength as a coach couldn't overcome his deficiencies as a general manager.

Defensive Coordinators

1. Monte Kiffin ... The team's all-time assistant coach. Built a decade worth of excellence.

2. Wayne Fontes ... The future Lions' head coach was first with the Bucs.

3. Floyd Peters ... A gravelly voiced, no-nonsense coach.

4. Tom Bass ... Built the Bucs' first great defense.

5.  Rusty Tillman ... Tried to help keep Wyche stable.

Offensive Coordinators

1. Joe Gibbs ... One the Bucs first offensive coordinators. Went on to Hall of Fame career with Washington.

2. Bill Muir (Who sounded a lot like Jon Gruden) ... Oh, Gruden designed the plays and called them. Muir was officially listed as coordinator, though.

3. Greg Olson ... Never had enough personnel to allow the Bucs to win.

4. Jimmy Raye ... He was a smart coordinator in a lot of places.

5. Mike Shula ... The Bucs tabbed him too early. Shula grew into a decent coordinator.

Quarterbacks

1. Brad Johnson ... Not the biggest arm, but he won the franchise's biggest game. In each round of the playoffs that year, Johnson outplayed his opponent.

2. Doug Williams... Williams' stats won't wow anyone. But he was a team leader with a knack for the big play. Thirty-three wins for the Bucs. Would later star in the Super Bowl.

3. Trent Dilfer...Maligned quarterback, but his 38 wins leads all Bucs' passers. Won a Super Bowl with Baltimore.

4. Jameis Winston ... Still on the ascent, so his ranking is fluid. He's thrown for almost 12,000 yards.

5. Shaun King ... King has the best winning percentage in the history of the franchise at .636.

6. Josh Freeman ... His name doesn't elicit a nice reaction, but in 2010, when he threw for 25 touchdowns with only six interceptions, he was excellent. Was it all an illusion?

7. Jeff Garcia ... He spent only two of his 11 seasons in Tampa Bay, but his .583 winning percentage is second on the team.

8. Vinny Testaverde ... He was horrible for the Bucs, but in the end, Testaverde ended up 13th all-time in NFL yardage. Outlasted his critics.

9. Brian Griese ... Not a terrible quarterback if he had enough talent around him. Here, he did not.

10. Craig Erickson ... Bucs' fans liked Erickson and didn't want him dumped in favor of Trent Dilfer.

Running Backs

1.  James Wilder ... In a two-year span, he rushed for 2,844 yards for the Bucs. Still thought of as a dependable player.

2. Warrick Dunn ... He had two 1,000-yard seasons and another one of 978 while he was with Tampa Bay. A perfect pairing with Mike Alstott.

3. Errict Rhett ... Started off with two 1,000-yard seasons but his production dipped. Time with Bucs ended in a holdout he couldn't win.

4. Ricky Bell ... Took a savage beating in the Bucs' formative years. Had a 1,263 yard season in 1979 before a blood disease slowed him.

5. Cadillac Williams ... A good running back who had the misfortune to injure both patellar tendons.

6. Mike Alstott ... Never had a 1,000 yard season, but he was a tough back who led the league in effort.

7. Doug Martin ... It's hard to evaluate his time with the Bucs, because he was either great or lousy.

8. Earnest Graham ... Another effort guy who squeezed the most out of his ability.

9. Reggie Cobb ... A solid back for his four years.

10. Michael Pittman... A good back who always seemed to finish without a 1,000-yard season.

Receivers

1. Mike Evans ... Simply, he's the best the Bucs have ever had.

2. Mark Carrier ... Carrier also had more than 5,000 yards receiving for Tampa Bay.

3. Jimmie Giles ... In the team's Ring of Honor with 34 touchdown catches.

4. Joey Galloway ... He kept his speed until the end. He was a one-trick pony, but was a good trick.

5. Vincent Jackson ... Jackson was an excellent deep threat in his time with the Bucs.

6. Kevin House ... House is third on the team's list fo all-time receiving yardage leaders.

7. Keyshawn Johnson ... He left in a pout, so some don't remember that he was a fine possession receiver.

8. Gerald Carter ... A solid receiver. Nothing great.

9. Mike Williams ... Williams showed a lot of potential before other things began to matter more to him.

10. Kellen Winslow ... Winslow was a good possession receiver who has run afoul of the law.

Offensive linemen

1. Paul Gruber ... He never made a Pro Bowl. Even now, you can get the old-time Bucs riled about it.

2. Tony Mayberry ... Mayberry made three straight Pro Bowls with the Bucs in the late 90s.

3. Randy Grimes ... A tough center who played for some bad Bucs' teams.

4. Davin Joseph... The team's finest guard.

5. Ali Marpet ... If he can stick to one position, he may make people forget about Joseph. Just signed a new six-year contract.

6. Jeff Paine ... Another tough center.

7. Randall McDaniel ... Was on fumes when he came over from the Vikings. Made another Pro Bowl.

8. Jeff Christy ... Centers lead this list. What is it about the Bucs and their snappers?

9. Logan Mankins ... A tough competitor who brought a lot of his work ethic from the Patriots.

10. Cosey Coleman ... Coleman started his career in good shape, winning a national championship with Tennessee and a Super Bowl title with the Bucs. It didn't last.

Defensive linemen

1. Lee Roy Selmon ... Sacks weren't an official statistic for most of the years Selmon played, but updated stats have him at 79.

2. Warren Sapp ... Sapp was an incredible pass-rusher for a defensive tackle. He had 77 while with the Bucs.

3. Simeon Rice ... Rice was quick and long, often reaching quarterbacks before they knew he was there. With the Bucs, he had 69.5 of his career 122 sacks.

4. Dave Logan ... When he finished playing, Logan was second on the Bucs in all-time sacks. Not bad for a 12th-rounder.

5. Gerald McCoy ... McCoy is in his ninth season, and already, he has 50 sacks. Still, he could use a little more help.

6. Chidi Ahanotu ...  In 1997, Ahanotu had 10 of his 34.5 Bucs sacks. If only he could have co-existed with Sapp.

7. Brad Culpepper ... Culpepper was an undersized but determined defensive tackle.

8. Greg Spires ... One of the more under-appreciated defensive ends the Bucs have had. A solid starter on the Super Bowl team.

9. Stylez White... White had 24 sacks in his four seasons as a Buc.

10. John Cannon ... Cannon had 24 sacks in his nine seasons.

Linebackers

1. Derrick Brooks ... A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Brooks could fly ... Sapp called him the best player the Bucs have had.

2. Hardy Nickerson ... A gritty player who brought his own brand of toughness to Tampa Bay.

3. Lavonte David ... He generally is among the Bucs' leaders in tackles.

4. Batman Wood ... He helped set the standard for defense in Tampa Bay.

5. Hugh Green ...  An under-appreciated linebacker for the Bucs.

6. Dave Lewis ... A solid performer for five seasons for the early Bucs.

7. Shelton Quarles ... He personified the deep drops by a middle linebacker for Monte Kiffin's defenses.

8. Kwon Alexander ... There are times you think he's better than David. There are times you're right.

9. Dewey Selmon ... Lee Roy's brother made a niche for himself at linebacker.

10. Jeff Davis ... A good player for Tampa Bay.

Defensive backs

1. Ronde Barber ... He should be in the Hall of Fame.

2 John Lynch ... Ditto.

3. Aqib Talib ... He had his share of off-the-field troubles here, but he's probably the best coverage corner the team had.

4. Dexter Jackson ... The Super Bowl MVP (although it should have gone to Rice).

5. Brian Kelly ... The "other" corner opposite Barber. A solid pro.

6. Donnie Abraham ... His career started off like dynamite.

7. Mike Washington ... An early star with the Bucs.

8. Cedric Brown ... He played well for Tampa Bay.

9. Mark Cotney ... He was John Lynch before John Lynch

10. Ricky Reynolds ... Smart, dependable cornerback.

Kickers

1. Donald Igwebuike ... He didn't lead the Bucs in percentage, just in big kicks.

2. Steve Christie ... Slipped away in Plan B when he told Sam Wyche he was staying.

3. Bryan Anger ... The current Bucs kicker has been solid.

4. Tom Tupa ... Another quality punter.

5. Matt Bryant ... The Bucs never really have recovered from releasing Bryant.

6. Josh Bidwill ... Bidwill had a big leg for the Bucs.

7. Martin Gramatica ... Yeah, he celebrated his kicks. After all the kickers have missed, wouldn't you?

8. Connor Barth ... The Bucs kept wanting to get better than Barth. They haven't.

9. Michael Husted ... Solid and dependable.

10. Reggie Roby ... Had one of the all-time great legs among punters. He was near the end with the Bucs.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller October 10, 2018 at 9:59 am

Very interesting column. You could have stopped at 3 when naming the top coaches. Kind if puts in perspective how bad the coaching has been here over the years doesn’t it? Actually the real problem has been poor ownership but that’s another discussion all together.

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Gary Shelton October 10, 2018 at 10:05 am

Bad ownership. Bad coaches. Bad Offensive coodinators. Bad quarterbacks. Bad offensive linemen. Bad defensive backs. I was struck by the lack of depth on the list. Each position had one or two solid guys, then a bunch of guys named Ned.

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