Pro Football Teams


Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Chucky lost his Key and isn't quite as angry

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a majority of their existence have been one of the worst teams to ever step onto the field. The franchise set the bar for futility by losing the first 27 games of their existence from 1976-’77 and set the National Football League record for the most consecutive losses. From 1976-1996 the team only had two winning seasons. During that span the team had a record of 104-223 which is a .318 winning percentage. In 1996 a man by the name of Tony Dungy came in and breathed life into the franchise. Since the 1996 season the Tampa Buccaneers have had five winning seasons, five playoff appearances, and two divisional championships. In 2001 after Dungy had failed to get the Bucs to the advance through the playoffs to the Super Bowl for the fourth time, he was fired. The Bucs then brought in the young offensive minded former Raiders coach Jon “Chucky” Gruden. In 2002 Tampa Bay finished with a 12-4 regular season record and won the very first NFC South divisional crown. That year the city of Tampa bought a boat load of Buccaneers tickets. The Bucs earned a first round bye and faced off against the San Francisco 49ers in the second round. The 49ers had just come off of one of the craziest endings of a game in recent memory and maybe of all time. Tampa Bay proceeded to just completely dominate the 49ers in every aspect of the game and won the game 31-6. In the NFC championship game the Bucs had to go toe to toe with the mighty Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles had an identical record to the Buccaneers and had also come off a very convincing second round win by grounding the Falcons 20-6. Philly fell 27-10 after not scoring a single point in the second half. That set-up a Super Bowl match-up of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. Coach Gruden obviously knew every single nuance of the Raider offense and helped his team out by being the scout team quarterback for the week leading up to the Super Bowl. The Bucs just ripped Oakland to shreds beating the Raiders 48-21 and the Raiders scored 18 of their 21 points in the closing minutes of the third and fourth quarters well after the game was out of hand.

Last season the Buccaneers found out that having a target on their backs wasn’t so much fun. They weren’t quite as scary as they were in the 2002 campaign. The team was mediocre all year and it showed in their record of 7-9. It was the first time since 1996 that the Bucs had a losing season.
In the off-season Tampa Bay made a plethora of moves in free agency and they basically changed the team that failed to make the playoffs in 2003. The team let go of 13 members of the team including defensive fixtures like tackle Warren Sapp, strong safety John Lynch and linebacker Nate Webster. They did pick up 19 free agents to off set their losses. They brought in big names like linebacker Ian Gold, running back Charlie Garner, who thrived under Gruden with the Raiders, quarterback Brian Griese, and defensive tackle Darrell Russell. They also traded away troubled wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson to the Cowboys and got speedster Joey Galloway to give the Bucs a deep threat they didn’t have.

In the draft the Bucs needed to pick some good young players that could come in and contribute right away and they seem to have gotten just that. With the 16th pick and their only pick in the first two rounds the Buccaneers snatched Louisiana State wide receiver Michael Clayton. Clayton is a soft-handed receiver that has shown he has a mean streak by being the best blocking receiver of the ’04 class. The Bucs also picked up Washington outside linebacker Marquis Cooper and Ohio State safety Will Allen. Allen has a knack for making a big play when his team needs it.
The Tampa Bay offense has never been known to light up the scoreboard and the 2003 season wasn’t any different. Despite all the hype about Jon Gruden being an “offensive guru” he hasn’t done much with the Bucs. Last year they did finish 11th overall in total offense and 6th in passing offense, but the team finished 26th in rushing offense.

The Tampa defense was strong as normal and finished 5th in total defense. The defense will take a big hit with the losses of Sapp and Lynch. They shouldn’t be too bad next year because they are still led by arguably the best player in the NFL Derrick Brooks. Defensive tackle Anthony McFarland and cornerback Ronde Barber will also help keep offenses honest next year.

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