Doug Williams was drafted to be the Bucs answer at QB, and even though he was a controversial figure at the time, he was that answer. Doug Williams was controversial for a reason few could understand in todays world: he was a Black QB in a time when there were no Black Quarterbacks. Sadly, the thought process was that a Black man was not capable of the intelligence required to be quarterback; sadly this was only 41 years ago.
Before Williams, Tampa Bay was a losing franchise, finishing a 2-14 season with a pathetic offense. While he was not perfect Williams proved to be the leader the Bucs needed, and was capable of throwing a TD pass from anywhere on the field.
Jameis Winston was also drafted in the first round when the Bucs finished
2-14 the year before with a pathetic offense. Winston came with major scrutiny as he faced rape allegations at Florida State to which he was acquitted of three times, had other college level incidences happen which stopped once he was suspended a game during his senior year.
Doug Williams showed glimpses of potential during his rookie year, especially after he had his first pass of his career returned for a ‘pick 6’.
Winston threw for 4000 yards in his rookie year, as he too started out slow with his first pass as a pro ran back for a TD the other way.
It was Doug Williams second year that made the difference, as the Bucs developed a team around Williams; an offensive line that opened holes for the Bucs first ever 1,000+ yard runner, and a playoff season for the first time ever on the heels of a 10-6 season. Williams was a strong QB, he only went down 7 times in all of 1979.
Winston surprised Bucs fans with a 9-7 winning record, the first in 6 seasons in Tampa Bay. Winston threw for 4000 yards again in his 2nd season, and like Williams, his accuracy improved. Most important was the leadership void that existed on the Bucs, had gone away. Winston was unlike the last franchise QBs that came to the Bucs, Josh Freeman. Winston is first one in to practice, and the last one to leave. He’s an inspiration.
Williams underwent tons of criticism in spite of winning; in his 3rd year things regressed. There was no Free Agency back then, and new passing rules exposed the Bucs old scheme on passing downs. Tampa’s defense gave up yardage in droves, even with experienced Defensive coordinator calling the shots. When his 4th season came, Williams completion % was up for the 4th consecutive year and with a string of 60+ yard TDs including one in the final game of the season giving Tampa another division championship.
Of course we dont know what’s in store for Jameis: like Williams the Bucs have invested in players around him. Drafting a running back to compliment the workhorse, drafting a defensive star to go with present one, the Bucs would go to the playoffs 3 times in 4 years. But Williams saw himself as an up and coming star, and the Bucs management did not want to pay Williams the same money as other top tier QBs.
In an era of NFL players jumping to a new league, Doug Williams left Tampa Bay for the USFL which would fold a few years later. Williams joined his former offensive coordinator in Washington where turn of good luck landed him a chance to shine, in the Super Bowl; and he did, nailing MVP honors for his 4 TD 2nd Quarter, still a Super Bowl record.
Will the Bucs repeat their mistakes of the past? The Glazers have not acted like the Culverhouse regime and allowed money and profit to ruin a franchise that started out with such promise. The Bucs couldnt see the intangibles of Williams, how he was a leader the team rallied behind. Tampa Bay won a total of only 12 games without him over the next 4 years, the start of 14 straight double digit losing seasons.
In 2018, the Bucs have 7 of 9 seasons with more losses than wins, and going on 16 years without a playoff win.
Tony Dungy, the architect of the turnaround that finally ended the post Doug Williams losing streak in 1997, when the 10-6 Bucs ended an 18 year playoff drought.