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.
Today we focus on the 2001 season for the Buccaneers..
Record: 9-7 (Third in the NFC Central, Made Playoffs via Wild Card)
Playoff Result: Lost in Wild Card Game to the Eagles (Playoff Record: 0-1)
Points scored: 324 (15th in NFL)
Points against: 280 (8th in NFL)
A New Signal Caller: The Buccaneers signed Brad Johnson to a five-year contract before the 2001 season, and he took over for Shaun King at quarterback from Week 1. Johnson posted the best completion percentage for a starting quarterback in team history, while playing otherwise unspectacular football, throwing only 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 16 games.
Instant Rice: The biggest move for the Buccaneers during the 2001 offseason wasn't adding Johnson, however, but rather the signing of Simeon Rice. The former Cardinal made an instant impact, earning 11 sacks and giving the Buccaneers an edge presence unlike any they'd had before.
Ronde Being Ronde: 2001 saw Ronde Barber haul in 10 interceptions, one of which was returned for a score, defend 24 passes, and recover two fumbles. This was, without a doubt, Barber's finest season from a statistical standpoint, and hopefully one that will draw voters' attentions when he's eligible for his well-earned spot in the Hall of Fame.
Roller Coaster Ride in Cincy: The Buccaneers were struggling to stay at the .500 mark in the middle of the season, and faced a tough test in the cool climates of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Todd Yoder would return a blocked punt for a score, and Martin Gramatica would add field goals to put the Bucs up 13-3 going into the fourth quarter. But in the final five minutes, the Bengals would score twice, tying the game and sending it into overtime. But the Bucs would hang out and move to 6-5 thanks to another Gramatica three-pointer.
Those Freaking Eagles Again: The Bucs were 9-6 heading into Week 17 against the Eagles, knowing that no matter what either team did, the duo would meet again in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. So after a meaningless regular season affair ended in an Eagle victory, the Bucs traveled to Veterans Stadium to take on the Eagles for a second straight year in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia dominated the game 31-9, with a Damon Moore pick-six in the fourth quarter sealing the Bucs' fate.
The Buccaneers entered 2001 with new talent and a lot of hope. Now two years removed from the NFC Championship game disappointment, the team added Brad Johnson to play quarterback, and defensive end Simeon Rice to provide some edge pressure on defense, bolstering an already competitive roster that much more.
But the Bucs hovered around .500 all season, seeing 12 of their games decided by one possession's worth of points. They still had the same strong defense and a decent but dull offense, and that just wasn't enough to spark a run or build any momentum.
And the season ended with another huge disappointment, as the Bucs lost to the Eagles yet again, this time in truly embarrassing fashion. This led to the firing of the best coach in franchise history (by quite a margin), as Tony Dungy was let go after failing to get the Bucs a trophy despite multiple playoff berths.
Dungy's .563 winning percentage was best in franchise history by 20%, as Sam Wyche previously held the high mark with a .359 winning ratio. He brought about an era of winning with a franchise that had become synonymous with losing, but expectations changed in a hurry under new ownership, and Dungy didn't do enough to convince the Glazer family that he was the man for the job.
But as we know, this decision turned out alright for both Dungy and the Buccaneers.