Another week is gone, which means we’re one Sunday closer to a new NFL season. The Buccaneers kick off their 2019 campaign 11 weeks from today, hosting the 49ers at Raymond James Stadium.
Every Sunday leading up to kickoff of the new season, we’ll be taking a look back at old Bucs seasons, correlating with how many weeks are left in the countdown. Last week, we returned to the 2012 season. So, with 11 weeks to go now, we’re taking a look back at Tampa Bay’s 2011 season.
2011 Season in Review
The Bucs came into the 2011 season with some momentum, having won 10 games the year before. The team came in with hopes of making the playoffs in year three under head coach Raheem Morris, who possessed a 13-19 record through his first two years. After an impressive 2010 season, Josh Freeman was once again set to lead the youngest team in the league.
Things got off to a solid start when Tampa Bay won three of its first four games. Close victories over the Vikings (24-20), Falcons (16-13) and Colts (24-17) had Morris and the Bucs in a good spot. The team was tied for first in the NFC South with a 4-2 record before everything went downhill. A 10-game losing streak followed, which led to the firing of Morris after three seasons. The Bucs weren’t just losing. They were getting shredded. Just two of the losses in the 10-game losing streak were of the one-possession variety.
The defense was the NFL’s worst, allowing 30.9 points and nearly 400 yards per game. The offense wasn’t any more effective, with Freeman throwing 22 interceptions to just 16 touchdowns. Tampa Bay averaged 17.9 points per game, scored 25 just twice and never reached 30. Nothing happened in that 2011 season that could have saved Morris’ job. There wasn’t much to be pleased with, which led to the start of the revolving door that has been the team’s head coaching position.
2011 Notes and Highlights
- After falling in Week 1, the Bucs rallied back in the second half of Week 2 to avoid an 0-2 start. Tampa Bay was down 17-0 at halftime in Minnesota, but a strong effort in the second half led to a 24-20 victory. Josh Freeman led the game-winning drive that was finished off by the go-ahead four-yard touchdown run by LeGarrette Blount with just over 30 seconds left. Blount ran for 71 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
- Tampa Bay got to 3-1 in Week 4 with a 24-17 home win over the Colts on Monday Night Football. LeGarrette Blount broke a 17-17 tie in the fourth quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run. With the clock winding down late, the Bucs sealed the win with a fourth-down sneak by Josh Freeman.
- The Bucs picked up their fourth (and final) win in Week 6, beating the rival Saints at home by a score of 26-20. Tampa Bay rode a 17-point second quarter and three Drew Brees interceptions to the victory. The biggest interception of the three came late in the game with New Orleans inside the 5-yard line. Brees and the Saints were threatening to tie and take a late lead, but Quincy Black came up with a pick in the end zone to seal the win for the Bucs. This game is probably best-remembered for the injury suffered by Saints head coach Sean Payton in a collision with tight end Jimmy Graham.
- Week 7 was the start of the Bucs’ downfall, but it was notable in that it was the team’s second-ever trip to London. After a loss to New England in 2009, Tampa Bay returned in 2011. It was another losing effort, with the team falling 24-18 to the Chicago Bears. The Bucs will make their third trip to London in 2019 to face the rival Panthers.
- By Week 13, things were in full meltdown mode. But the 38-19 loss to Carolina was still memorable for Tampa Bay. The Bucs wore their creamsicle uniforms and inducted Jimmie Giles into the stadium’s Ring of Honor at halftime. Giles was the third member of the Ring of Honor, following Lee Roy Selmon and John McKay.
- In Week 17, Ronde Barber set a franchise record for games played with his 225th.
2011 Buccaneers Player of the Year
There is no home run pick here like there was for the 2012 rewind. But I’ll go ahead and give this to LeGarrette Blount. He ran for 781 yards and five touchdowns on 184 carries, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He didn’t light the world on fire, but no one else on this 2011 team really did either. Mike Williams had a solid year, catching 65 passes for 771 yards and three touchdowns. Sean Jones led the team with 92 tackles, while Adrian Clayborn tallied 7.5 sacks in his rookie year. But Blount made the biggest difference in the games that Tampa Bay did win. He gets the nod here.
The 2011 season was very forgettable for the Buccaneers. It was a major letdown after a strong 10-win season the year before. Josh Freeman regressed and the defense was very bad. Tampa Bay fired Raheem Morris the day after its Week 17 loss, kicking off the search for another new coach. After the organization’s previous two coaches spent a combined 13 seasons at the helm, Morris lasted just three. The next two lasted just two years each. It wasn’t until Dirk Koetter that a Buccaneer head coach made it to a third season.
We’re 11 weeks away from kickoff, Bucs fans. Stay tuned to this rewind series every Sunday until Week 1 of the 2019 season.