Before the start of training camp and the official kickoff of the 2014 Buccaneers season, Bucs Nation will take you through every season in Buccaneers history, one by one, to paint the whole picture of how the Buccaneers got to where they are today.
We move on to the 1984 season, which would be the last for the Bucs' original head coach, John McKay.
Record: 6-10 (3rd in NFC Central)
Points scored: 335 (14th in NFL)
Points against: 380 (21st in NFL)
Disappointing Defense: For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers finished in the bottom-10 in defense and allowed exactly 380 points. Many of the big names that led the Buccaneer defenses in the 70's were now aging (Lee Roy Selmon, Cedric Brown and Mark Cotney) or gone (almost everyone else).
Running Wilder: James Wilder set multiple franchise records in 1984, some of which still stand today, with his incredible effort as the workhorse of the Tampa Bay offense. Wilder finished with 1544 yards on 407 carries and scored 13 rushing touchdowns. He had 2229 total yards from scrimmage, eclipsing the previous Bucs record by over 700 yards. That total fell just 15 yards shy of setting the NFL record at that point in history.
Quarterback of the Future?: Steve DeBerg, a former tenth round pick, was brought in to Tampa to compete with Jack Thompson, and he took full advantage of his opportunity. DeBerg had the best passer rating in team history in 1984, as he was the first Bucs QB in franchise history to complete over 60% of his passes.
A Return to Winning Ways?: The Buccaneers defeated the Minnesota Vikings 35-31 to move to 3-3 on the season, and things seemed to be looking up for the resilient Bucs. DeBerg threw for two scores while Wilder rushed for two more as the Tampa defense did just enough to hold on for the win and get the team to .500 just before the midway point of the season.
Maybe Not: The Bucs would then go on a four game losing streak, capped by a Week 10 loss to the very same Vikings (who would end up 3-13 on the year). The 27-24 defeat came at the final whistle as the Vikings knocked home a 53-yard field goal to bury the Bucs' chances of rebounding and making a run at the playoffs that season.
The 1984 season would be the final season of John McKay's tenure as the head coach of the Buccaneers. Having guided the team to three playoff appearances and an NFC Championship game, McKay had done quite a lot for a young franchise that began with so little talent.
McKay would finish with a 44-88-1 record, but that wasn't indicative of what he was able to do with the hand he was dealt. Considering the frustrating decisions by ownership and blunders and miscues by the front office, it was a miracle that McKay ever made the playoffs with the Bucs, let alone find himself earning a trip to the NFC Championship game.
But the 1984 season wouldn't be a special send-off for the only head coach in Bucs history, as the team would struggle to stop opposing offenses and lose seven of their last 10 games en route to a 6-10 record.
Steve DeBerg emerged as the best QB in franchise history, having been acquired from the Broncos (who picked up some guy named Elway and didn't need DeBerg any longer) for a second-round pick. James Wilder carried the offense as both a runner and receiver, while Kevin House continued to create big plays as a receiver.
But the defense was a shell of its former self, as the core of the 1979 defense was five years older, with many of the key pieces leaving Tampa over the prior years.
For the first time in franchise history, the Bucs needed a new head coach, and he was tasked with getting the team back on track, and taking advantage of the incredible offensive weapons he had at his disposal. Could they find the right guy, and avoid heartbreaking mistakes along the way?