The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been pretty bad at finding quarterbacks since, well, forever. NFL.com ranked each NFL team's history of quarterbacks, and the Buccaneers rank 29th. I'm shocked they managed to get that high.
Williams was the first "franchise quarterback" the Bucs ever had -- and, Jameis Winston aside, is the only one they can claim. Former owner Hugh Culverhouse's decision to not pay Williams in the '83 offseason set off an era of losing rarely seen in NFL annals. Johnson took the team (or rode the defense) to a Super Bowl. He was solid. Freeman had the potential to be just that, but after one stellar season in 2010, his stock plummeted.
The pathetic history of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterbacks, filled with players who weren't any good, a bunch of players who were only good after they left Tampa, and Doug Williams. Great fun. I'm actually surprised the Bucs don't rank dead least here -- they're even ahead of the Jaguars, who got some decent play out of Mark Brunell and David Garrard and the Ravens who have two Super Bowls under Joe Flacco. And also Vinny Testaverde and Trent Dilfer. Ahem.
The Bucs' string of terrible quarterback play really is of nearly historic proportions. So historic that I thought quantifying it would be fun. Pro Football Reference does a cool thing, where they index passing statistics to the year they were produced you can see how far above average the quarterback was. Using their Adjusted Net Yards per Pass Attempt statistic, the Bucs have had 13 quarterbacks who have started at least 10 games in a season and have been at least average.
That's not too bad, until you realize that there were 16 players this past season who managed to do the same thing, including Brian Hoyer and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Better statistic: the Bucs have just two quarterbacks who ever managed to post an ANY/A index of 120%: 1981 Doug Williams and 2002 Brad Johnson. Last year, four players managed to do that. The previous year, another four. In fact, since the year the Buccaneers first started playing in 1976 there have been 143 instances of 120%+ seasons for quarterbacks starting at least 10 games, and only two of those were Buccaneers.
Let's take yet another measure: the amount of quarterbacks who managed to post an above-average index ANY/A statistic over their careers. That should be doable, right? There are 92 quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts who managed to do so. What are the odds that no Buc has ever done that? Some did! Doug Williams, Craig Erickson, Jeff Garcia and Brad Johnson. Of course, none of those players were actually with the Bucs for the long term. Tampa Bay loses again.
But it looks like all of that is about to change. Finally. Because the Buccaneers drafted a quarterback who actually seems to be the Real Deal in Jameis Winston.