Defensive Line Coach Todd Wash helped rookie DT Roy Miller forge a strong debut season
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line will remain in the very capable hands of assistant coach Todd Wash in 2010.
Earlier this week, the Buccaneers shuffled their defensive staff slightly after the departure of Linebackers Coach Joe Barry for USC. Joe Baker, previously in charge of defensive backs, moved over to fill Barry's vacancy and former Buc assistant Jimmy Lake returned to head up the secondary.
Another member of the Bucs' 2009 defensive staff departed on Wednesday, but this time no additional moves were necessary at One Buccaneer Place. Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn has left to tutor the same position with the New York Giants.
The Buccaneers employed two defensive line coaches in 2009 - Wash and Nunn - and at least early in the season split the line into tackles and ends. Nunn's departure and the team's confidence in Wash leaves the Bucs with the same situation as in 2008, when Wash was the team's sole defensive line coach.
The Buccaneers finished the 2008 season ranked ninth in overall defense and fourth in pass defense, despite a December swoon that kept them out of the playoffs and dropped them down the statistical rankings. Wash was also part of the 2007 Buccaneers staff that helped guide the defense to the league's second overall ranking.
Wash came to the Buccaneers in '07 following his second coaching stint at his alma mater, North Dakota State. He served as the Bison's defensive line coach in 2002-03, then spent one year as the defensive coordinator at Missouri Southern before returning to NDSU to coach the D-Line and coordinate the run defense in 2005-06. Prior to returning to his alma mater, where he played on two national championship teams in 1988 and 1990, Wash also coached at Fort Lewis and Nebraska-Kearney.
Last year, Wash helped with the continued development of defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who has 11 sacks in his two seasons since signing with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent. In five years with the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilkerson had just one sack. Wash also helped rookie defensive tackle Roy Miller, a third-round pick out of Texas, make an instant impact on the team with 54 tackles, two sacks and seven quarterback pressures.
On Sunday, just hours before the 2010 Pro Bowl is played, 53 NFL current and former NFL players will receive an even more exclusive honor.
The league will take the occasion of its all-star weekend - the first one ever played prior to the Super Bowl - to announce another group of all-stars: the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team. The NFL All-Decade teams are chosen every 10 years by the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee members. The 2000s will mark the ninth All-Decade team to be selected in NFL history.
This decade's 53-player team will be comprised of two quarterbacks, four running backs, one fullback, four wide receivers, two tight ends, four offensive tackles, four guards, two centers, four defensive tackles, four defensive ends, six linebackers, four cornerbacks, four safeties, two kickers, two punters, two kick returners and two punt returners. Two head coaches have also been chosen.
Worth pondering: Will there be any Buccaneers chosen among those 53?
Fifteen of the 53 players on the team have already been revealed, including 12 who will be playing in Sunday evening's Pro Bowl. Among those are Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, Denver cornerback Champ Bailey and Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers.
That leaves 38 spots to be claimed. Several strong candidates wore Tampa Bay uniforms throughout the decade.
Though many outstanding players on both sides of the ball have donned a Bucs uni this decade, including 20 different men who made the Pro Bowl, the best bets for the All-Decade team would appear to be four members of the team's often outstanding defense. That guess is based primarily on the number of seasons those defenders played during the decade and the deep stat lines each produced.
All four were members of the Bucs' 2002 Super Bowl Championship team. Two - linebacker Derrick Brooks and cornerback Ronde Barber - only played for Tampa Bay. The other two - defensive tackle Warren Sapp and safety John Lynch - began the decade in Tampa but finished their potential Hall of Fame careers on other teams.
In nine seasons during the 2000s (2000-08), Brooks produced 1,434 tackles, 17 interceptions, nine sacks and 17 forced fumbles. He was selected for eight Pro Bowls during the decade (of the 11 in his career) and was the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year. All eight of Brooks' defensive touchdowns (including the postseason) were scored during the 2000s.
Barber played not only every season of the decade but every single game - 160 of them in total. He was as prolific as Brooks, combining 1,013 tackles with 33 interceptions, 21 sacks, 172 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles and nine fumble recoveries. All five of his Pro Bowl trips have come during the 2000s, and he was also an AP All-Pro first-team choice twice and a second-team choice on two other occasions. Barber's 14 return touchdowns (including the postseason) even trump Brooks' total, and all but one of those came during the past decade. Barber remains the only cornerback in NFL history with at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in his career, and the majority of that occurred during the 2000s.
Several of Sapp's best seasons, including a 10.5-sack campaign in 1997 and a 12.5-sack effort in 1999, came before the 2000s began. Still, he kicked off the decade in question with a career-high 16.5 sacks in 2000 and was clearly still in his dominant prime as the 2000s began. Sapp's NFL Defensive Player of the Year award came in 1999, but he would play eight more seasons with the Buccaneers (2000-03) and Oakland Raiders (2004-07) and remain a force until the end. During the 2000s, Sapp played in 121 games and registered 54.5 sacks, reaching double figures in that category as recently as 2006. He also snared three interceptions and forced eight fumbles during that span and even caught a pair of touchdown passes. He was selected for the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons with the Buccaneers during the decade.
Lynch split his eight seasons of play in the decade evenly between the Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos. He went to the Pro Bowl following seven of those eight seasons, including the last four of his career, and as also a first-team AP All-Pro in 2000. During the decade, Lynch racked up 710 tackles, 14 interceptions, 9.5 sacks, 55 passes defensed and 10 forced fumbles.
To find out if any Buccaneers made the NFL's 2000s All-Decade team, watch the special Pro Bowl edition of ESPN's *Sunday NFL Countdown *beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET.
One Buc Club
During the 2009 season, member of the brand new One Buc Club received exclusive weekly content, including an extensive game preview delivered via e-mail every Friday. That was just one advantage of being a member of the Club, which is free and very easy to join. Other perks include the delivery of breaking news even as it is being released by the team, team store discounts, ticket opportunities and drawings featuring lucrative prizes.
During the 2010 offseason, members of the One Buc Club will continue to receive advanced content directly from team headquarters. Each Friday, beginning this week, members will be treated to an in-depth analysis of some topic exclusive to insiders. Upcoming articles include a thorough look at the offseason prognoses for all of the Buccaneers who finished the season on injured reserve and a two-part look at the best possible Tampa Bay team that could be put together from the top single-season efforts in franchise history.
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