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 look back at the 2010 Bucs, and their surprising winning season.
Record: 10-6 (Third in the NFC South)
Points scored: 341 (20th in NFL)
Points against: 318 (9th in NFL)
Delivering on the Promise: Josh Freeman helped lead the Bucs to their only three wins during the disappointing 2009 campaign, bringing the team to comeback victories and showing that he might live up to his first-round potential. He soared beyond his expectations in 2010, posting the best QB Rating for a 16-game starter in team history, matching or beating every one of Brad Johnson's statistics from 2002.
Punching Defenses in the Face: LeGarrette Blount wasn't drafted in the 2010 NFL Draft, and didn't even stick with the team that first signed him, but when he landed in Tampa, he was in the perfect situation to succeed. Blount rushed for 1000 yards and scored six times despite not seeing regular game action until Week 6.
In The Right Situations: Long before his controversial off-the-field behavior led to a trade, Mike Williams was a promising rookie scoring 11 touchdowns and falling just shy of 1000 yards as a fourth-round pick. Williams was Josh Freeman's favorite target as soon as he stepped on the field, and the two helped bolster the offense alongside Blount to form a seemingly strong young nucleus.
Maybe This is Just a Fluke: In an ultra-competitive NFC South, the Bucs fumbled their chance at a playoff berth with a 23-20 overtime loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 15. The would-be 6-10 Lions drove into field goal range on the arm of Drew Stanton and tied the game with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter, and would win the game in overtime on another field goal.
Maybe This Isn't Just a Fluke: The Bucs scored plenty of close victories against losing teams in 2010, but a Week 17 win against the 11-5 New Orleans Saints provided a sense of hope moving forward. The Saints seemed to be coasting into the playoffs just a bit, but Bucs fans could feel good about knocking off a division rival to end the season, even if it didn't end in a playoff berth.
The Buccaneers entered the 2010 season without making a ton of changes to the roster, as safety Sean Jones represented the only major signing of the offseason. However, the Bucs did load up in the draft, selecting two defensive tackles and two wide receivers with four of their first five picks.
One of those receivers, Mike Williams, would be an instant success, helping to rejuvenate an offense that struggled mightily the year before.
And one of those defensive tackles, Gerald McCoy, struggled with injuries but showed flashes of being a dominant player worthy of his high draft position.
Add in the contributions of undrafted running back LeGarrette Blount, and the Bucs got the infusion of talent they needed from some unexpected sources.
But the NFC was too top-heavy in 2010 for a 10-6 Bucs team to make the playoffs, so Raheem Morris' greatest coaching triumph would go without any rewards at season's end, as he fell just shy of winning Coach of the Year, as well.