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's history article focuses on the beginning of the end for the Bucs' spell of success, the 2006 season.
Record: 4-12 (Last in the NFC South)
Points scored: 211 (31st in NFL)
Points against: 353 (21st in NFL)
Worst to First to Worst: Following a strong bounce-back 2005 season, the Bucs fell off of a cliff again, finishing last in the division after going worst to first the previous year. The four wins earned in the 2006 season were the fewest since 1991, as was the -142 point differential.
Needs More Rice: Simeon Rice would play his final game as a Buccaneer in 2006 after picking up an injury and being placed on injured reserve after the season. The team would suffer as a result, with no one player picking up more than five sacks on the season, something Rice had done in each of his previous ten NFL seasons.
Offensive Offense: No team in Buccaneer history ranked lower in the NFL in scoring than the 2006 squad, although there were teams that finished in the bottom-two previously. Bucs quarterbacks combined for only 14 touchdowns, while rushers scored only six more. Ronde Barber was the team's fifth-leading scorer with 12 points scored.
Setting the Tone: The Bucs opened the season with a 27-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, with Chris Simms throwing three interceptions and totaling only 133 passing yards. The Ravens drove 80 yards on their first possession of the game, and would never look back, picking up a defensive touchdown and a shutout along the way.
The Spleen Game: Chris Simms would leave a Week 3 contest against the Panthers with "bruised ribs" only to return and nearly lead the team to a comeback, falling short 26-23. After the game, it was reported that Simms was rushed to the hospital and had his spleen removed after it had ruptured during the game. The Bucs' opening day starter in 2006 would only throw 19 more passes in the NFL before moving on to coaching and analyst work.
The Bucs didn't change much over the 2005/2006 offseason, sticking with young Chris Simms at quarterback and getting older at every other position across the board.
But the 2005 team was an Edell Shepherd drop away from advancing in the playoffs, so perhaps the Bucs were wise to not mess with success?
A four-game losing streak to start the season would say otherwise, with long-term hopes dashed by Simms' spleen injury that would ultimately end his career as a viable starter in the NFL. Bruce Gradkowski would take over under center and prove to be accurate but little more.
Simeon Rice would play his last down in Tampa, heading to the injured reserve with an injury, while Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber continued to produce, but could no longer carry the defense (or the offense) as they had in the past.
Former rookie standout Cadillac Williams would fail to impress as a sophomore, but there was hope that 2006 rookies Davin Joseph and Jeremy Trueblood could help pave the way for Williams in the future as the offense began to take shape.
But as we know, that would only get the Bucs so far...