In 1996, the Bucs started to turn their fortunes around as the defense developed into the historically dominant entity it became. It didnt happen overnight..the first game was a slaughter. But it got better, and before you knew it, there were several games in a row where the defense didn't give up more than 13 points. The offense? well Trent Dilfer made it look like both sides of the ball were improving, but we know better. The optimistic Dilfer of 1996-97 gave way to the disapointing 1998 and the downright nightmare of 2009! It was so bad, even a rookie with less than adequate arm strength actually improved the position for a year or two. It wasnt until Brad Johnson playing in his slightly past prime part of his life was there to add some quality to Quarterbacking the Buccaneers.
So when we look for the team to start turning around again, why do we expect a direct repeat? Doesnt the law of averages say this franchise is due to have a powerful offense one day? Didn't we finally get a good successful coach when we looked away from the obvious choices like Jimmy Johnson, Steve Spurrier, or Bill Parcells. Instead a lesser known assistant named Tony Dungy came in and helped things turn around under his watch.
So maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally find an offense under a defensive Head Coach in Raheem Morris? Is it any stranger than the fact that this team has NEVER had an offense to even talk about? Twice the Bucs had a 10th ranked offense, in 1984 with James Wilder running the ball for over 1500 yards (still a Bucs record), and 2003. Thats right, 2003, under Jon Gruden, the year after the Superbowl, and the only year under Gruden in which he had a Quarterback who started every single game. That's moving the ball though, getting yards. As far as scoring, 2000 was the best season in Bucs history, with 388 points. While that is our best ever, in 2000 it wasnt more than top 5. Colts, Raiders, Broncos and Vikings all scored more points. Of course, the defense probably had a lot to do with that. The reward for scoring the most points ever in Bucs history; Offensive coordinator Les Steckle was fired, and Shawn King was rewarded......by being replaced with free agent Brad Johnson! Tampa Bay; where no good deed goes unpunished?
But that's it folks. Oh sure, the Bucs were a big play waiting to happen in the Doug Williams era, and were a good consistant running team during the Alstott & Dunn years. But this team has had defense as a main ingredient since the creation. In 1977 it was top ten, and number 1 in 1979, 2002, and 2005. We have had so many linebackers that were solid stars its not even funny. Richard Batman Wood, Cecil Johnson, Hugh Green, Scott Brantley, Eugene Marve, Winston Moss, Broderick Thomas, Jimmy Williams, Lonnie Marts, Shelton Quarles, Hardy Nickerson, Derrick Brooks, Just to name a few. What about secondary? Mark Cotney, Mike Washington, Cedric Brown, Ricky Reynolds, Mark Robinson, Harry Hamilton, Marty Carter, John Lynch, Donnie Abraham, and Brian Kelly just off the top of my head.
Try to name 10 offensive stars. You will struggle after 7, because the bottom line is we have not had a history of success on that side of the ball.
34 years is a long time..the Pittsburgh Steelers were a lousy team for 40 years before the Rooney family put the pieces together and now have more Superbowl rings than any other NFL team. The law of averages, and time, say there was no way the Bucs could have continued to have double digit losing seasons for too much longer than the 14 years it did. The Cardinals took that to the extreme, but even they went to the Superbowl last year, and are one of the better teams in the league for a change for this perenial bottom dweller.
So maybe the laws of averages have caught up to us. Maybe, Tampa Bay fans will finally be able to go to the stadium and watch a team that is able to light up the scoreboard. Yes, we are trained to cheer our teams D linemen, LInebackers and it's secondary. But I'm willing to bet Raymond James patrons wont have a problem watching an offense putting points on the board instead.