How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have Hit Rock Bottom Over the Past DecadeTweet
The year was 2008, and all signs were pointing to perhaps yet another magical run for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming off of back to back playoff appearances in 2006 and 2007, the Buccaneers were off to a scorching start in the franchises 33rd year of existence, starting off with a record of 9-3 and were poised for a 1st place finish in the NFC South. Warrick Dunn was a Buccaneer again and life was good. The defense, still led by household names such as Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, held opposing offenses to accumulate less than 14 points in 6 of their first 12 games, which is almost unheard of in the NFL nowadays. Former Oakland Raider head coach, Lane Kiffin, who was fired midway through the 2008 season, was the hottest name on the market for big name colleges looking to fill a head coaching vacancy. Connect the dots and you can tell where this is going. Monte Kiffin is the father of Lane, who was recently let go by the Raiders. On November 18th, 2008, Joe Bucs Fan from JoeBucsFan.com wrote about how it was nearly a done deal that Monte would follow his son to whichever college landed his highly coveted coaching experiences. Many Buccaneers fans as well as players believed this to be all but just a rumor. As the rumors kept swirling and gaining steam, their defense did the opposite. In week 14, which took place on December 8th, the Tampa Bay defense depleted to the tune of letting up 38 points, 8 more than any other opponent scored against them that season. Trying to rebound the following week and exert themselves as the division leaders yet again, the Buccaneers traveled to Atlanta, only to lose a heart breaker in OT to rookie Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Following back to back losses, the Buccaneers were still poised for the playoffs with a record of 9-5. However, December 15th, 2008 was when Monte Kiffin officially announced that season would indeed be his last in the Bay area. This news obviously shocked fans, media, and players in the organization, as Monte was in Tampa since 1996. The last two games of the season led to epic collapses, as the once most feared defense in the league let up a combined 72 points to AFC West foes, San Diego and Oakland. The Buccaneers finished the 08 season with a underwhelming 4 game losing streak, missing out on the playoffs, and losing their identity. Weeks after the collapse concluded, then head coach Jon Gruden was relieved of his duties, and legendary faces of the franchise such as Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks, among other key veterans, were released. Things were changing in Tampa, and quickly at that.
The Jon Gruden era was officially over in Tampa, a era which led to a Super Bowl XXXVII victory and 4 winning seasons. This would be the last true taste of greatness the Buccaneers have experienced this past decade. A new dawn was upon us, and in stepped 33 year old Raheem Morris to fill in some big shoes. Morris was a fiery, defensive guru who moved up the ranks quickly. He was the Buccaneers defensive backs coach in both 07 & 08, before assuming the role of a head coach in 2009. In 09, the Buccaneers finished a measly, but expected, dead last in the NFC South with a record of 3-13. One short season after, he led a post game interview chanting, “We are the best team in the NFC!” and for one brief moment, there was life again in Tampa. All those hopes fell short when the Buccaneers tied for the sixth spot in the NFC at 10-6, and failed to make the playoffs. At the same record of 10-6, the sixth seed Green Bay Packers went on to win the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers quickly returned to their disappointing ways in 2011, finishing yet again in the basement of the NFC South at 4-12, and cutting ties with Morris.
The dismissal of head coach Raheem Morris came to no surprise to Buccaneers fans, as 17 wins in 3 seasons does not keep most head coaches their gig. The only question was, where exactly would the Buccaneers turn next in their head coaching search? It surely would not be a veteran, as then it would be a bad look to get rid of a Super Bowl winner in Jon Gruden. It surely could not be another young, inexperienced coordinator, as Morris, to no fault of his own, did not pan out well. It was time for the franchise to think outside the box, but make the right choice at the same time. In steps the college coaching candidates, and although shocking at the announcement of the hire, Greg Schiano made way to much sense to lead the franchise of Tampa. Schiano had a winning culture, and a extent one at that, while coaching the Rutgers Scarlet Knights from 2001-2011. Schiano also brought the discipline this team needed, as there were several meltdowns on the field under former head coach Raheem Morris. After coaching Rutgers to relevancy and the Buccaneers to a strong 7-9 season in 2012, Buc Nation really thought he was the one. That all changed in the 2013 season when veterans started getting treated poorly, kneel downs were getting rushed against opposing teams, and the defense just totally gave up on their head coach. The Buccaneers started getting blown out in ugly fashion, and ended the 2013 season with a record of 4-12. This ended Schianos quick tenure in the Bay, finishing with a record of 11 wins and 21 losses. Once again, this move left Buc faithful wondering, whats next?
Tick tick tick. The clock kept on ticking. It has now been 5 painful seasons since the Buccaneers have sniffed relevancy. It is time. It is time to go back to winning. It is time to hire a winner. There was yet again, another coaching candidate who made way to much sense for the Buccaneers. That man was Lovie Smith. Lovie was a former Buccaneer coach, who gained all defensive knowledge while leading the linebackers from 1996-2000. From there, he went on to become defensive coordinator for the Rams, before becoming the man in the Windy City. Lovie not only led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance, but reestablished that monsters of the midway mentality in Chicago, leading the Bears to a 81-63 record in 9 seasons, including a record of 10-6 in his last. He was a top of the line coach on the market, and any team would be lucky to even get him in the building for an interview. After meeting with his former franchise, the Buccaneers were quick to make Lovie their 10th head coach in team history. After a more then expected house clearing and struggle of a 2014 season, the Buccaneers were landed with the first draft choice of 2015, after going 2-14. The Buccaneers are a franchise accustomed to playing without a high end Quarterback. In 2015, two young studs declared for the NFL draft, perhaps opening up the doors for the Buccaneers to finally land the franchise player they always needed to get to the next level on the offensive side of the ball. The choice was pretty easy, as a Florida native college star was waiting in the wings, Jameis Winston. Winston was a no brainier for Tampa, as he played college ball at Florida State, and only lost a whopping 1 game combined at the high school and collegiate level. In his first season with the Bucs, Winston led the team to 6 wins, a huge improvement over the previous seasons total of 2. However, management felt the Bucs were being hindered by their coaching staff, and the light dimmed on Lovies reunion in Tampa, as they relieved him of his duties only 2 short seasons into his reunion.
The 2016 season was a promising one for Buccaneers fans around the globe. Not only did they bring in former successful head coaches to help lead the team, such as Mike Smith from Atlanta, but they did the trendy thing to do in the NFL now a days and hire the next up and coming coordinator to take over the reigns. That man happened to be Dirk Koetter, a offensive guru who groomed a number of quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan and David Garrard who led their respective squads to multiple playoff appearances. Winston and Koetter seemed like a match made in heaven, as the highly coveted second year QB was coming off a pro bowl season and a Pepsi Rookie of the year award, and Koetters offensive skill set was highly touted among general managers around the NFL. All this came true. Between Winston and Koetter, the Buccaneers had high hopes again, even getting flexed into a Sunday Night Football match up with the Cowboys late in the 2016 season. That alone speaks volumes, as many Buccaneer fans know they are not a hot commodity on SNF. The squad ended up finishing the season with a very successful record of 9-7, inching their way yet again even closer to the success Gruden once brought to the Bay area. However, the next two seasons led to defensive implosion after defensive implosion, and the Bucs record was a deflating 10-22 combined over the course of 2017 & 2018. Mike Smith and Dirk Koetter both got sent packing, and the “youngry” team was once again on the hunt for their fifth coach in the past 9 seasons.
Successful head coaching is very hard to come by, just ask the Glazer family for yourself if you would like. The franchise has a young QB who shows flashes of greatness, and blemishes beyond belief. They needed a master mind behind the master plan, and quick. This is when Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht came in handy. Licht, previously employed by Arizona, had both a very good coach and friend who’s availability recently became open. That man happened to be 2 time coach of the year recipient Bruce Arians. Bruce, also known as the quarterback whisperer, has led quarterbacks like: Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, & Carson Palmer to overwhelming success in their NFL careers. Arians and his grade A staff were welcomed with open arms to Tampa, as fans were excited to see what work he could do with Jameis. The time is now. We are in the middle of the 2019 season, week 12 to be exact, and Jameis has shown both flashes of greatness, and blemishes beyond belief. I will say this, coach Arians is the first coach I have seen since Gruden that has been this devoted to winning. Arians is doing everything he can to get this squad turned around, but nothing seems to be working. The defense is allowing the most points in the NFL under Todd Bowles, and the offensive line is giving up sacks at a rapid pace. Both of these things have led Jameis to trend downward, although his numbers may suggest otherwise. If you look at the 3-7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is very easy to point the finger at Jameis. However, when your defense is one of the worst in the league and your offensive line could be replaced by a high school varsity line, not everything is on the signal caller. Jameis does what he can week in & week out to try to propel the program to the next level. He throws for yards at an immaculate clip, being third in the league in total yards thrown. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are having career years with him as the signal caller. The record may indicate 3-7, but this team is closer than the average fan thinks. This team is a offensive line and a few competent defensive backs away from becoming serious contenders again. The only question to ask at this point is, Bruce Arians and I are on board, are you going to join us?
Article written by Anthony Tones Ariola – found on twitter @ TrickyTonesBGTE
How the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Have Hit Rock Bottom Over the Past DecadeTweet
Hi All - welcome to a little bit about me. I have been a sports freak for over 24 years, a Buccaneer fanatic for over 21 years, A fantasy football legend, among a bunch of other sports nerd things. I write for Time Skew Sports. Give us a follow on twitter @TimeSkewPod