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Season by Season History of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2012

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Toes on the line, folks. It's time for the Schiano era to begin.

Kim Klement-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.

Let's all make sure we're being the best Buccaneer men we can be for today's look at the 2012 season.

Season Recap

Record: 7-9 (Tied for second/last in the NFC South)

Points scored: 389 (13th in NFL)

Points against: 394 (23nd in NFL)

Rebuilding the Defense: Gerald McCoy returned to health and Michael Bennett broke out and became a household name as the Bucs shaved 100 points off of their allowed points from a season before thanks to improved pass rushing and a much better run defense. Rookie Lavonte David would stand out as a run stopper that was missing from the Buccaneer defense a year before.

Historic Offense: It's a sign of just how poor offenses have been in franchise history, but the Bucs 9th place ranking in the NFL in yards gained was the highest in team history, and the 13th place ranking in points scored was second best for the franchise. Josh Freeman took a step in the right direction, while rookie Doug Martin carried the team from the running back position.

The Dougernaut: Doug Martin had one of the best offensive seasons in Tampa Bay history, as the rookie runner gained 1926 yards from scrimmage and scored 12 times while only fumbling once. The Boise State product had a huge game against the Oakland Raiders to help pad his stats, but was fairly consistent and always a threat to break away for a big gain against any defense.

Key Games

A Wake-Up Call: Greg Schiano started off his Tampa Bay career with a win, but two weeks later, against the Dallas Cowboys, he would receive a rude awakening to life in the NFL. The otherwise unimpressive Cowboy defense held the Bucs to only 166 yards, thanks in part to some embarrassingly bad play-calling from Mike Sullivan and company, as Tony Romo and his team would hold on for an underwhelming 16-10 win.

Josh Does it Again: Reminding Buccaneer fans of his best days earlier in his career, when he was a fourth-quarter hero for Raheem Morris' young Bucs, Josh Freeman led the Bucs back against the Carolina Panthers in a Week 11 overtime victory. A perfectly thrown pass down the seam to Vincent Jackson (combined with a two-point conversion to Jackson) tied the game with 12 seconds remaining, and a toss to Dallas Clark won it in overtime.

Major Storylines

Toes were on the line, and that seemed to suit everyone just fine in Tampa in 2012.

Greg Schiano was hired to provide a stern voice and a strong leader in the Tampa Bay locker room, replacing Raheem Morris, who lost control of the "Youngry" Bucs a year earlier.

The run defense improved, the team's discipline and demeanor seemed to improve, and things turned around for the Bucs. Josh Freeman played better in Mike Sullivan's big play offense, and Doug Martin was an instant hit with fans as a big play running back unlike any the team had seen in a long, long time.

Not everything went according to plan, however. Aqib Talib would be suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy, and subsequently shipped to New England mid-season. Combined with other injuries in the secondary, the Bucs would have to use several young, unproven players at defensive back, and would struggle to stop any passing attack.

The team seemed to play better than they did a year before, but the playoffs still seemed out of reach. There was progress, but there were also frustrations. During a late season collapse, there were players and coaches getting into confrontations, and anonymous players airing grievances against the coaching staff to the media.

But with an offseason under their new coach, fans hoped things would turn around. If only they knew which direction the team was about to turn...