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 edition features the 1995 season, which saw the beginning of a turnaround for Tampa Bay.
Record: 7-9 (Last in the NFC Central)
Points scored: 238 (29th in NFL)
Points against: 335 (12th in NFL)
Rhett Follows Up on His Rookie Promise: Errict Rhett wasn't just a one-year wonder for the Bucs, as the breakout rookie of a year before posted a 1000-yard season as an encore in 1995, adding 11 rushing scores to his 1207 yards.
Four. Passing. Touchdowns.: However, not every second-year offensive player for the Bucs would fare quite that well. Trent Dilfer started all 16 games for Tampa Bay in 1995, but threw only four passing touchdowns over that span. He did, however, manage to throw 18 interceptions, and helped the Bucs earn their lowest offensive ranking in team history (on a technicality, as it was the first year with 30 teams in the league, and the Bucs finished 29th in scoring offense and 30th in passing touchdowns).
"Buc Ball": Even with all of the offensive struggles, the Buccaneers improved their record and showed more promise in 1995 thanks to a much improved defense. A "bend, don't break" mentality was already starting to rise to the surface, as the Bucs allowed the 12th fewest points in the NFL while allowing the 27th fewest yards. An uptick in turnover creation and some timely big plays kept the Bucs afloat despite a horrible offense (similar to a few of the more successful teams during the Bucs' early years).
Contenders?: The Buccaneers finished an overtime victory over the Vikings in Week 7 with a record of 5-2, putting them in the driver's seat for a playoff berth in the NFC. Despite allowing 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime, the Bucs would get a Michael Husted field goal in the extra period to win 17-14. The Bucs were outgained on offense, but generated four turnovers, including one fumble which was returned for a score.
Maybe Not Quite Yet: Heading into the final week of the season with a shot at a .500 record (which would have been the first non-losing season since the early 80's), the Bucs were blown out by the Detroit Lions by a final score of 37-10. Four Buccaneer turnovers and 11 penalties for over 100 yards would help hold back an already outclassed Bucs team against the 10-5 Lions, led by Herman Moore's 10 receptions for 105 yards.
The Buccaneers ended the 1995 season with a whimper, but they started it by making all of the right decisions.
The franchise was purchased by Malcom Glazer ahead of the season, and he kept the team in Tampa, despite rumors and speculation that the Bucs would move to any number of other cities. Glazer didn't make any massive changes in personnel during his first year in charge, allowing Sam Wyche and Rich McKay to continue in their roles as coach and general manager for the time being.
McKay instantly rewarded Glazer for his decision, as he and his staff would be responsible for one of the greatest first rounds in NFL Draft history, selecting Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks with their two top selections.
The offense was still a work in progress, and the biggest changes to the defense were yet to come, but the Bucs were headed in the right direction. Another slam-dunk decision regarding the head coach to replace the fired Wyche would continue the forward momentum in Tampa following the season, but it's clear that the 1995 season saw a shift in the landscape of football for the Buccaneers.