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'll look at the 1982 season, which was a turning point in Bucs history for all of the wrong reasons.
Record: 5-4 (7th in NFC)
Playoff Result: Lost in the first round to the Dallas Cowboys
Points scored: 158 (18th in NFL)
Points against: 178 (16th in NFL)
Unfortunate Defense: The Buccaneer defense ranked 16th in points allowed, but third in yards allowed. The Bucs struggled against the run, but had a top defense against the pass, but ultimately gave up more points than they should have.
Doug Williams' Final Act: In what would be Williams' final season in Tampa, the big-play signal caller threw for over 2000 yards in only 9 games, finishing sixth in the NFL in passing yards.
Most Sacks: Dave Stalls, not Lee Roy Selmon, led the Bucs in sacks in 1982. He finished with 6.5. (This is the first year that the NFL kept official sack records.)
Late Heroics for the Bucs: Heading into the final weekend of the season with everything to play for (eight teams in the NFC were due to make the playoffs, and the Bucs were on the bubble), the Bucs overcame the Chicago Bears in overtime by a final score of 26-23. Despite gaining nearly 200 more yards than the Bears, the Bucs turned the ball over three times and had to overcome a 23-6 deficit in the second half to secure the win.
Disappointed by Dallas Again: The playoffs would end as quickly as they started for the Bucs, who fell at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys yet again. Star defenders Mike Washington and Cedric Brown missed the game due to injury according to BucPower, but that didn't stop the Bucs from competing against their formidable opponents for three quarters. But a late surge by the 'Boys ended the Bucs hope of another run in the playoffs.
'Listen, Pat, you’ve got two names there.’ I said ‘We’re not going with Sean Farrell, we’re going with Booker Reese. Turn it in.’
These were the infamous words of Ken Herock, Buccaneers' Director of Player Personnel in 1982, spoken to equipment manager Pat Marcuccillo, who was the team's representative at the NFL Draft, according to a recent Sports Illustrated article on the frustrating events of the '82 Draft for the Buccaneers.
Why were those words so infamous? Well, partially because Booker Reese would pan out to be one of the biggest busts in draft history, failing to live up to any of his potential and starting only seven games in the NFL before falling out of the NFL due to drug problems.
But even more frustratingly, and more appropriate given the way the Buccaneer franchise would operate for the next two decades, those words are infamous because they weren't heard in their entirety by Marcuccillo. He simply heard some combination of "We're... going with Sean Farrell," and marched to the podium to select the player the Bucs didn't want.
This caused the Bucs to trade back into the second round to take Reese, giving up their 1983 first-rounder to land the player they wanted all along. And you don't need to be a football historian to know how loaded with talent the 1983 NFL Draft was...
Farrell would actually turn out to be the better pick, playing a decent 11-year career in the NFL. But the Buccaneers' ability to completely botch something as simple as making a pick in the NFL Draft was a sign of things to come.
As for the 1982 season, it was shortened by a labor strike mid-season, which allowed the Bucs time to regroup and rebound from an 0-3 start. The team would secure all five of their victories in close games with one-score margins en route to a spot in the expanded playoff field due to the shortened schedule.
Doug Williams continued his pace from the year before, producing big plays with an inefficient completion percentage but big yardage numbers. However, an increasing amount of his throws were heading in the direction of running back James Wilder, who was becoming a leading dual-threat back in the NFL. In fact, Wilder finished third in the NFL in receptions in 1982, not among running backs, but among all players.
But it was ultimately the fourth quarter that would be the undoing for the Buccaneers, who thrived in late-game situations during the regular season, but collapsed in the final period against the Cowboys in the playoffs and would fail to make a run in the playoffs for the second straight year.
And knowing what we know now, that fourth quarter collapse was symbolic of what was to come in Tampa, as the Bucs were due for two decades of frustration as a result of continued front office gaffes, like the one that happened on draft day in 1982.