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Season By Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1978

The Buccaneers finally find some life on offense and an identity on defense, putting their winless ways behind them with hopes of something big on the horizon.

Doug Williams provided the Bucs with something they never had: a decent quarterback.
Doug Williams provided the Bucs with something they never had: a decent quarterback.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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 continue with the 1978 season, which saw some big changes in Tampa Bay.

Season Recap

Record: 5-11

Points scored: 241 (25th in NFL)

Points against: 259 (7th in NFL)

Leading rusher: Ricky Bell - 185 attempts for 679 yards, 6 touchdowns

Most Interceptions: Cedric Brown- 6 interceptions

Most Passes Defended: Jeris White - 18 passes defended (per BucPower)

Key Games

Bumbling Bucs: 15-7 loss to Detroit, Week 2. The Bucs turned the ball over six times against the Lions, and allowed seven quarterback sacks for a total of 94 lost yards in a disappointing home loss.

Emergence of Doug Williams: 24-7 loss to Minnesota, Week 5. Despite throwing three interceptions, Doug Williams threw for 311 yards and a touchdown and the Buccaneer offense came to life for the first time in franchise history.

Major Storylines

The Buccaneers held the first overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft, but traded down with the Houston Oilers, and added tight end Jimmie Giles along with extra picks in the '78 and '79 drafts. And while the Oilers would get a very good player in Earl Campbell, the Bucs would get a franchise player of their own in Doug Williams.

Giles didn't make a huge impact during his first season in Tampa, but not many of the offensive players did, as Williams struggled to provide consistent production for the Buccaneer offense. He would finish the season with a completion percentage in the 30's and only seven touchdowns in ten games. But there were glimmers of hope that the Buccaneers may one day have an offense good enough to make some noise in the NFL.

Ricky Bell became the first Buc with more than two rushing touchdowns in a season in Tampa, and tied for most touchdowns by a skill position player in the team's brief history with six. Fullbacks Jimmy DuBose and Johnny Davis added in a few scores of their own, and the running game in Tampa was putting points on the board at franchise record pace.

This pace, however, was still well below average in the NFL. The defense, however, was on the rise, led by the continued strong play of Lee Roy Selmon, and the strong work of defensive backs like former Dolphin Jeris White and 12th round draft choice turned starting free safety Cedric Brown.

The Bucs finished last in their division once again, but things were looking up, as they didn't earn the first overall pick and showed signs of establishing an identity with a strong defense and a rushing game capable of scoring points. The table was set for what would happen just a year later.