There is just nothing more exciting than opening day in the NFL. You wait all year for news on who your team drafted, what free agents did you get, and every once in a while, you get the 'which coach are we going to get' scenario too!
Preseason is a nice tease..but that is all there is to it. Absolutely NO questions get answered during the preseason for us fans.
Examples after the jump.. (Con't)
- 2006, defending NFC South Champs looked like a young team going into a championship direction. Preseason Defense locked down and shut down all opponents. Then Game One and the Ravens opened the game up with an 8 minute touchdown drive, something the Seahawks did 15 games later the end the year, with the sorriest defensive ranking in decades in between.
- 2003- Bucs are defending Superbowl Champions, and go 4-1 in preseason. End result...7-9
- 1983- Bucs go undefeated in the preseason, 4-0, including a 41-21 game 4 win over the New England Patriots. End result? 2-14!
We can conclude that preseason does NOT tell us a thing about the regular season. What about the regular season opener? Thats a different story all together. In fact, you can usually predict the 16th game too, they seem to always work like bookends for some reason! Lets take a look at some recent and not so recent history at what we can expect from the season after Sunday's game.
- 2007- after a very poor '06 season, the Bucs played well but came up short at Seattle. Public reaction was neutral, and the team ended up 9-7 and in the playoffs, although they were 8-4 at one point.
- 2005- After two years of losing football, no one expected the Bucs to do much especially opening on the road at former Central Division rival Vikings. They ended up winning a close game, which turned into a 4-0 start and a Division title with playoff appearance.
- 2003- A solid shutout of the Eagles on the heels of a SuperBowl championship had us looking like repeaters, but only the next week the Bucs lost a heartbreaker with poor special teams. Result was a disappointing losing season.
- 2002- The Jon Gruden Era did not start off with Roses. The O line looked terrible, and Brad Johnson was hurried all day. But the team fought back and tied the game with ten 4th Qtr points but lost in Overtime. Result: Team got better along the way and won the Superbowl
- 2000- After going to the NFC Championship game, the Bucs beat the Patriots on the road to start off the season,and got off to a 3-0 start, only to lost 4 straight end end up as wild card entry because Martin Gramatica missed a makable FG at Green Bay in Game 16 that would have given the team a 1st round Bye.
- 1999- Opening day could not have looked any worse. Trent Dilfer was responsible for every point scored in the game, includeing the 17 for the Giants. INT return for TD, Fumble return for TD, another Fumble recovery for a FG, and 0-1 looked like 0-5. But the defense was incredible in that game, and they stayed incredible all year, enroute to an 11-5 record and NFC Central Division Championship, Tony Dungy's only one here in Tampa. Result: Opening day looked much worse than the result.
- 1997- The Bucs beat the 49ers on opening day and this game is still looked at as the turnaround of the franchise. Bucs took the momentum and ran with it to the tune of a 5-0 start, and return to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
- 1996- Opening day for Tony Dungy's Bucs, and mistakes led to 14 points in the last two minutes before the half, and Green Bay embarassed Tampa Bay to start the year off. However by the end of the year, the Bucs bought into Tony Dungy's system and looked like a franchise on the verge of a serious turnaround.
- 1995- A successful win over Philadelphia on the road had the Bucs looking very impressive. Trent Dilfer threw two touchdown passes. Problem is, he only threw two more the entire rest of the year. After going 5 dash 2, the Bucs finished 7-9. Result; A good looking win led to an inconsistent season that was for the most part competitive but losing none the less.
- 1993- The Bucs lost big to KC at home, and finished the same way. Result: Poor opening game equaled a poor season.
- 1992- A solid win over the Cardinals was followed up with a win over Green Bay that was even more impressive. However they were false hopes as the team finished 5-11. Result: Solid beginning was NOT indicative of the performance of the team.
- 1989- Solid win over the Packers on the road and close loss at home to world champion 49ers had team fans abuzz...but it still ended up to be a 5-11 year.
- 1985- Bucs score 28 first half points on Playoff Bears (eventual superbowl champions) in 10 point loss. Result: Bucs win only 2 games the rest of the way.
- 1982- Close loss to open the Hubert H Humphry Metrodome ended up being the first of three straight losses to open the season. But it wasnt all that bad of a year, as Bucs won 5 of 6 to go 6-5 in strike year and make the playoffs.
- 1979- Bucs look great beating the Lions at home 31-14, end up going 5-0 and 10-6 and making the playoffs for the first time.
Perhaps I went a little overboard there. The point is, sometimes you can tell what kind of year your going to have, but most of the time the guesses are for naught. Which one of these stories will hold true Sunday around 4 Pm? Will we be celebrating like wild, that our supposedly sorry Bucs upset the Cowboys? Or will they drop like flies like everyone suspects?
Ready or Not, its here!
Its Bucs Football!