#1 GREATEST BUCS SEASON TURNAROUND: YOUNGRY BUCS RACE TO 10 in 2010!

#1    2009 (3-13)  2010 (10-6)  a 7 Game Improvement!

You have to have witnessed the great Bucs games of the Tony Dungy era to understand that 2010 was no fluke as most would have you believe. There were crazy come from behind wins, but there were also missed opportunities to come from behind that did not succeed, @ Baltimore, Detroit, 2 Atlanta Games for starters.

Its easy to call a winning season a fluke when the same team the next year goes 4-12 but that 2011 team was 4-2 and in first place with a 2-0 division record after wins over the Saints and Falcons. What the 2011 team didn’t have was veteran leadership anywhere that could have stopped the turning of the team away from the program and to their own individual selfish needs. There was no Rich Bisaccia to play bad cop to Raheem’s good cop, and the few veterans on the team were quiet leaders like Ronde Barber.

This same formula worked in 2010, and it began at the end of 2009, which was the season Josh Freeman was brought in as the starter after the team started out 0-7. Freeman won his first game at home in Throwback uniforms over the Green Bay Packers and the Bucs played competitive football, especially after Morris scrapped the New Defense and went back to the Tampa Two, or a variation of it. The end of the year produced two amazing upsets, first at Seattle, then at eventual Superbowl champion New Orleans Saints. That dynamic was brought over to 2010 where the Bucs started out 2-0 with a miracle win over the Browns on opening day.

Jake Delhome led the Browns to a 14-3 lead and was driving for another score that probably would have put the game out of range. Instead Ronde Barber picks the ball off and returns it to inside the 10 where rookie Mike Williams made an amazing tip and catch for TD. The next week the Bucs handled the Panthers before losing badly to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but two things came out of that game. Cody Grimm (after looking lost on first TD pass given up) looked solid at safety replacing the suspended Tanard Jackson for Drug violations, and the Bucs found a new running back: LeGarrett Blount.

The first miracle game came the next week in Cincinnati where the Bucs went up against Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson and T.O. coached by Marvin Lewis. How do you call coming out of that stadium with a win of any kind a fluke? Lewis was outreached by Morris, as Marvin called a pass play on 3rd down that was picked off and gave the Bucs another shot to which they did not lose an opportunity on. The Bucs scored 10 points in the final 1:26 including a FG on that blunder to win. After getting blown out by the Saints, ammo for the “Fluke Season supporters”, Tampa Bay won two more miracle games.

1) Vs St.Louis Rams, Tampa Bay kept in the game until the 4th quarter seeking out and taking advantage of FG opportunities when possible. Coming down to the wire, Josh Freeman hit Cadillac Williams in the end zone for the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. Blount had 72 yards in 10 carries when Bucs decided to run Blount instead of Cadillac when possible.

2) @ Arizona the Bucs had a 31-14 lead near the end of the 4th quarter when the defense and crazy plays (talk about flukes, these were fluke plays AGAINST the Bucs) led to a Cardinal 21 point run to take a 35 to 31 lead, but LeGarrett Blount went in from the 1 with 5 minutes left to take the lead: Blount had his first 100 yard game as a Buc.

Mid season saw the Bucs win some amazing games, a 31-14 trouncing of the Panthers for a season sweep, and first win at San Francisco for the franchise since 1980 in a 21-0 shutout! Missed opportunity No.1 presented itself in a 7 point loss at Baltimore when Sabby Piscitelli took a bad angle and wrong coverage in allowing. Sandwiched around these games were two mind-blowing losses to the Atlanta Falcons who swept the Bucs.

1) Week 8 down 21-27, Bucs go for it on 4th down and inches and Blount fails to achieve the first down, first sign Blount was not a goal line back.

2)Bucs scored in 4th qtr to take a 24-14 lead with 10 minutes left, but a Falcon kickoff return for a TD and quick score by Jenkins gave Atlanta the lead. A late rally by the Bucs and Josh Freeman (with an amazing 4th down conversion) failed when Freeman was intercepted by Brent Grimes with under 2 minutes to go. The Bucs wasted another throwback uniform game as they were swept by Atlanta, however the next year Tampa Bay got the win over the Falcons on a 4th down cadence call by Freeman that drew ATL offsides.

With two losses in a row, the Bucs were starting to fall behind, and losing 10-9 to the Redskins in Maryland Josh Freeman hit Kellen Winslow II for a TD with 3 minutes left in the game. The Redskins scored a TD in the last few seconds, but a mishandled snap/Xtra point attempt cost Washington the game, and inched Tampa Bay closer to playoffs.

 


Then came Detroit: and a single event that killed the Bucs playoff chances. Josh Freeman threw the ball to the corner of the end zone where Kellen Winslow II was there. Both K2 and CC.Brown were both caught with hands all over each other, but last second you see K2 push just a little more than CC, if not even Brown pushing K2, before Winslow grabs the Ball and TOUCHDOWN is called. Then Flag comes out…Nullified. The Bucs were down 17-14, instead had to settle for a FG to tie the game. The Bucs would take the lead with 1:44 left in the game, but the defense couldn’t hold Detroit which tied the game, sent it into overtime where the defense couldn’t stop Detroit there either,  and the Lions won it there in OT.

At that point the Bucs needed help. They defeated the Seattle Seahawks handilly with a big day from Freeman and his 5 TD passes, and upset the Saints in the last game of the Season in which New Orleans pulled Drew Brees later in the game when they had little to play for (the Bucs were already in the lead).

But Tampa Bay and Bucs fans everywhere had to wait for the NY Giants outcome and the final whistle of the Chicago/Green Bay game. Both scores went against the Bucs who were eliminated from Playoffs, instead the wild card spot went to eventual SuperBowl winner Green Bay Packers. How would the Bucs have fared in the Playoffs? Safe to say the team could win on the road, and they had a running and passing game, and the fire and determination to compete well. A playoff appearance may have made a huge difference in the dismissal of Morris the next season, from Coach of the Year candidate to fired. Adding insult to injury, the next season after hiring disciplinarian Greg Schiano from Rutgers, the Bucs spent money in Free Agency getting a solid Guard, Wide Receiver, and Corner to name a few.

Morris players would be let go, as Schiano’s players were let go by Lovie Smith, and the coaching game has continued to deplete the Bucs roster of talent. Now in year TWO of Smith regime, the Bucs are starting to assemble talent again to be able to compete in the NFL. But in 2010, the Bucs with a group of the youngest players in the NFL, won 10 games and completed the single greatest season turnaround in Bucs history; 7 games!  What will 2015 have in store? When you only win 2 games in 2014, even an 8-8 record is a 6 game turn around. Should the Bucs go 10-6 somehow, it would be an 8 game turnaround, and now talking about one of the greatest turnarounds in  SPORTS history.

But we have to kind of curb our expectations, even 8-8 would be a stretch and great accomplishment. Speaking of which… were going to start our next series just before camp opens…EXPECTATIONS. Stay tuned!

#2 Last Stand for Greatest Bucs Defense: 2005! TOP 5 GREATEST SEASON TURN AROUNDS in Tampa Bay Buccaneers History

What? 2004 (5-11) to 2005 (11-5) a 6 Game Improvement!

Few people remember that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stellar Tampa 2 Defense had another NO.1 ranking even after Lynch and Sapp departed for the AFC West. Truth is, the 2005 defense was equally as potent and finished the season nudging the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top defensive spot. On offense, what started out as an offense that c0uld move the ball through the air or ground, hit a rough spot when QB Brian Griese went down and was replaced by Chris Simms who took a couple weeks to catch up to speed then performed well in a breakout game against the Redskins.

The Bucs had started 4-0 then then hiccuped against the Jets in NY against former Buc Vinny Testaverde who always held his own against Tampa Bay after departing. During a win against the Dolphins Griese was lost for the season and 3rd year untested Simms went in as the backup to secure the win, but did not fare well against the 49ers coming off the bye.

The signature moment for the 2005 Bucs was against Washington Redskins, where they took a lead, gave it up, but got it back on the 2 minute offense capped by a Simms to Edel Shepherd TD pass, but the real magic happened when the Redskins jumped offsides on the potential game tying extra point. Now at the 1 yard line, feeling he may never get another chance like this, HC Jon Gruden ordered Mike Alstott to dive over the top for a game leading 2 point conversion. The Bucs hung on to win 36-35 and consequently won 3 of the next games while in a dogfight with the Carolina Panthers to keep pace in the NFC South, setting up a winner goes to the playoffs game with the Atlanta Falcons in week 15 that perhaps was the most dramatic game in history of Bucs football. Edell Shepard fumbled the opening kickoff in the OT period, and the Falcons were in instant FG range, until it was Blocked by Dewayne White who saved the day for Tampa Bay!

On a comical note the Bucs drove down the field and Matt Bryant missed the FG attempt! But he got another chance with seconds left in the  game and came through for the Bucs who won and beat the Saints in the last Pre- Drew Brees game for New Orleans Saints to clinch the NFC South Title for second title in 4 seasons. Few people know Jon Gruden has as many division Championships than all the other Bucs Head Coaches COMBINED!!

The Playoff game was a disaster, the Bucs defense came to play and limited the Redskins to 120 net yards of offense, yet still lost by 7 because of two major plays, A Chris Simms Interception inside the goal line, and a fluke play in the video Here.

 

The Bucs were eliminated but not without a little more drama: just like the regular season game, Edell Shepard this time DROPPED a TD bomb from Chris Simms that would have tied the game. In the end the mistakes that led to 14 points were too much for this offense to overcome in a playoff game.

The Bucs would lost several assistant coaches that had an adverse affect on the team, and struggles of 2006 led to another season to season turnaround for 2007. This season came in at number 2 because 2004 was a continuation of the post Super Bowl drop off that included   2003 and the release of Sapp and Lynch…

2004 Saw the Bucs go away from Brad Johnson on offense as the passing attack lacked any quality receivers. Keenan McCardell was promised a new contract, and when that didn’t happen he held out and was eventually let go. Keyshawn Johnson imploded during 2003 and was traded for Joey Galloway who pulled a hamstring trying to catch a game tying TD opening day ’04. He would be out until later part of the year but was a major part of 2005 and ’07 getting 1000 receiving yards 3 straight years!

Don’t miss tomorrow when we go over the NO.1 Bucs season turn around…will it be safe from removal this season? Will Lovie Smith and rookie QB Jameis Winston insert themselves in any of these spots? The Bucs were 2-14 last year, so it doesn’t take much to turn around a 2 win team…going 8-8 puts the Bucs at 6 win turn around!

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ALL ABOUT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS TRAINING CAMP- Rules, When, What happens!

Just in case you’ve forgotten…tomorrow is the last week without football news for us Bucs fans. Sure there are no real games for another month and a half, and no preseason game for two weeks after camp starts…but at least when next Friday gets here..the talk of the town will be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! […]

#4 Garcia & Chucky’s Last Stand 2007! TOP 5 SEASON TURN AROUNDS in Tampa Bay Buccaneers History

#4 Greatest Seasonal Turnaround in Tampa Bay Buccanners History:

2006 4-12, 2007 9-7, a 5 Game Improvement and playoff birth.

This is the last TD scored by the Bucs in a playoff game: Garcia to Alex Smith- 2007.

 

In 2006 the Bucs came off a great surprise season in 2005 to bomb in 2006 on offense and defense. Two great defensive assistants and a minor future coach moved on to bigger and better things when Raheem Morris went to K state to be D coordinator before Mike Tomlin to be DC at Minnesota for the Vikings. Rod Marinelli departed the Defensive Line too, and as it turns out the Secondary and Defensive Line are the two areas that fell the farthest in 2006.

The Bucs got the last few games out of Simeon Rice before shoulder injuries killed his career, and Chris Simms sacrificed his spleen to try to win a game for the Bucs, an effort that killed his career. Bruce Gradkowski looked promising in preseason and first few games, but he could not throw the ball deeper than 20 yards and lost accuracy too.

It was the end of an era for many Bucs fans as Mike Alstott seemed to have his best days behind him and would play his last game at home carrying his kids around on the field, though he would resign for 2007, a neck injury prompted his retirement. Somehow Joey Galloway had his second 1,000 year season, and back up QB Tim Rattay showed everyone he should have been the guy called on when Simms went down, although he lost games too. It was a Bucs team that had no QB, and no fire on defense.

So the Bucs went out and got a QB- Jeff Garcia, who single handedly turned Jon Gruden’s offense into a potent one again. With his fire like running ability and accurate passing, Garcia gave the Bucs instant credibility on offense, but the feel good story of the year was running back Earnest Graham who took over for Cadillac Williams who had his first of two ACL injuries. Joey Galloway and Ike Hilliard and tight end Jeremy Stevens were all good targets for Jeff Garcia who came in 19th in the league in QB rankings. The Bucs were 16th passing and 11th Rushing and really had no problem taking the division by week 12 with a dramatic last second win over New Orleans in the Dome behind the arm of Luke McCown who had his best day as a QB ever in the journeyman’s career. It essensially gave the Bucs a 3 game lead with 4 games left, all but deciding the division. Two weeks later vs Atlanta it was over, the Bucs had finally returned a Kickoff return for a TD in their franchise history, and left coach Gruden with an interesting dilema: Sit players or let them play and risk injury.

Gruden did both, he sat players, but Joey Galloway still found a way to get injured week 15 at San Francisco in a narrow loss that cost the Bucs their no.1 receiver. Galloway had to pretend to be healthy, and in the opening quarter against the Giants in the playoffs, the Gmen respected him and Earnest Graham scored a TD to go up 7-0. Some point in the game NY figured out Galloway was helpless and a total decoy, and thats when the running game fizzled. A 2nd half opening fumble on the kickoff and a 3rd Qtr interception while driving for a score doomed the Bucs who gave up more points in this 2007 home playoff game than all the other Home playoff game combined at that time.

Still sitting as the last playoff game for the Bucs franchise, A possible 11-5 season fizzling into a 9-7 paled in comparison to what happened in next season as a 9-3 mark collapsed into 9-7, missed playoffs, and firing of the only SuperBowl winning coach in Bucs history along with his entire staff, save one; Newly promoted defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.

#5 Tony’s Turnaround! TOP 5 Greatest Season Turn-Arounds in Tampa Bay Buccaneers History!

No we’re not talking about the 2008 Kansas City Chiefs game that the Bucs were down 24-3 just 2 minutes before the first half and won the game; were talking seasonal comebacks! Being a Bad team (and we all know the Bucs have had their share of being a bad team) and then turning it around in the offseason and being a good team the next year! Lets just make it a top 5 then…the 5 best seasonal turnarounds in Bucs History! The Bucs could be in here at the end of this season, as it doesn’t take much to improve on a 2-14 year; an 8-8 season would come in at 2nd place and move the Tony Dungy 1997 turnaround OUT OF the 5 best turnaround seasons!! So lets get started!

 

Number 5; Tony’s Turnaround- Birth of the Pewter Bucs!

What? 1996 6-10, 1997 10-6, A 4 Game Improvement-

According to Tony Dungy, this was supposed to be how 1996 played out; to sold out stadiums and fans going nuts. It just didnt work out that way, and a couple simple mistakes just before halftime of the first game showed Dungy he had a little more work to do! To be fair the Bucs were 1-8 at one point, but finished at 6-10, so a 5-2 finish put a lot of fans into excitement mode for the next year.

That went into TURBO Mode when the Bucs released the new Uniforms and the birth of Pewter Power was born. The Bucs would be perennial winners for the next 6 years culminating in a Super Bowl win under new coach Jon Gruden.

The Bucs defense came on strong in 1996 and were playing at a 1997 caliber towards the end of the cream-sickle days. The offense got a boost with Mike Alstott in ’96 then followed up with a shot in the arm of Warrick Dunn in ’97 who added another dimension to the running game. Trent Dilfer happened to play his best football at the end of ’96 through the next year, and the Bucs started out 1997 5-0 to finish 10-6 and a wild-card birth with a home playoff game vs the Detroit Lions.

1997 started out with a BANG! As in the Bucs knocked off the San Francisco 49ers in the debut of the Steve Mariucci days of that storied franchise, and knocked OUT Steve Young and Jerry Rice from the game by Warren Sapp who set himself up as the dominant D-Tackle in the league in this game. Next the Bucs went to Detroit where Warrick Dunn out performed Barry Sanders and had his big day. The 3  game was at the Metronome, and the Bucs disposed of the Vikings to go 3-0 in the very first amazing Mike Alstott plays where he backs into the end zone carrying Ed Brady and other Vikings defenders on his back. Week 4 announced the birth of Pewter Power to the country in a Nationally televised game on TNT, as the Dan Marino and Jimmy Johnson led Dolphins came to town. The country and the Bucs fans saw a sold out Tampa Stadium and a loud raucous crowd boost the Bucs over the ‘fins to go 4-0. That was almost the end as an interception of Trent Dilfer came close to defeating the Bucs, but in true 4th quarter magic, Trent Dilfer hit Karl the Truth Williams on 4th and 6 for a 31 yard touchdown! The Bucs repeated their 1979 feat of going 5-0 and beat the Giants in New York for the first time ever, a few weeks after almost shutting out the high powered New England Patriots for the franchises first win over them too.  In the first playoff game in 14 years, the Bucs beat the Detroit Lions to advance; It would be the last game ever played in Tampa Stadium and it would be a Bucs playoff win, last celebrated in the 1979 NFC Divisional playoffs.

As far as impact goes, its probably one of the best turn arounds, but statistically its only 4 games, and the team started the turn around the year before going 5-2 down the stretch after starting out a grizzly 1-8. The impact just wasnt there; but tomorrow we look at NO.4  where a Coach and his new QB turned around a team but peaked too early!

Key Impact Players/Events:

John Lynch, Hardy Nickerson, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott, Donnie Abraham, Warrick Dunn, Tony Dungy:  Change of Uniforms/Colors  – Pewter, Red.

 

VIDEO VAULT EXCLUSIVE: Mr. Mike Alstott 1999 NFC Playoff action

 

Mike Alstott was voted NO.2 favorite Buc of all time with fan votes on Buccaneers.com; John Lynch was recently voted no.4 all time so we showed a video of his interception against the Washington Redskins 1999 playoffs that helped turn that game around.

With 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter the ‘skins had a commanding 13-0 lead, when Lynch picked off a Brad Johnson pass and spiked the ball in front of the Bucs offense coming onto the field getting in the offenses faces.

Here is what the outcome was of that play….the Bucs drove the field and Alsott scored on this incredible play .

 

VIDEO VAULT EXCLUSIVE: Meet Mr. Lynch! How Brad Johnson met John Lynch in Tampa Bay Buccaneers Playoffs

Inspired by Buccaneer.com’s selection of John Lynch as No.4 fan voted favorite of all time, here is a Video Vault Exclusive clip from the 1999 NFC Divisional Playoff game between the Washington Redskins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The game was 3-0 at the half, rookie Shawn King trying to be the first rookie QB to win a playoff game since Pat Hayden in the 70’s, was ineffective. Then a 2nd half opening kick off return for TD made it 10-0. A FG made it 13-0 as less than 5 minutes remained in the 3rd period. At this game myself, I remember saying “well it was a nice run, we need to get Shawn King a little more experience” and then this happened.

Watch Lynch’s reaction after the pick; he spikes the ball right in front of the offense coming onto the field, gets in their faces as they come on, shouting to pump them up.

The first few plays are not noteworthy, in fact Alstott is held to a loss on the first play. But then Warrick Dunn catches a 16 yard pass and the crowd goes nuts. The result was a highlight reel Mike Alstott TD run, (Which we will show you when Alstott gets announced as No.1 or 2 in fan voting) and a 14-13 win to put the Bucs in the NFC Championship game which gave birth to the nation of the Tampa 2!

Congrats guys, take a bow, your the worst Bucs team ever 1986!

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Funny thing, I posted videos from the @Atlanta flogging Bucs took 2011 and said "Isnt it great this will never happen again"? It didnt, it was worse!

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