Tampa Bay: A Decade Removed From SB XXXVII
By Dave Ford
In the National Football League, it is not about what a team did in the past or what it will do in the future. In fact, it is not even about what it did last season. It is, however, about “What have you done for me lately?”
Yes, the same song Janet Jackson made into a catch phrase is forever imbedded into our psyches in the world of sports.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are now over a decade removed from their glorious triumph over the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII. Since that day, the franchise has revisited the postseason on just two occasions – the 2005 and 2007 seasons. Both of those quests ended quickly in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Seven years after he led the Bucs to the mountain top of the NFL, Jon Gruden was fired as head coach.
In his first season as Buccaneers head coach, Raheem Morris all but fell flat on his face as the team finished the 2009 campaign with a 3-13 record – its worst finish since 1991. However, the 2010 season saw Tampa Bay finish 10-6 – the franchise’s best single-season turnaround. But in the end, the double-digit win total was not enough to advance to the Wild Card round of the playoffs as a late-season loss to the Detroit Lions cost the team a spot in the tournament.
Morris and his staff were unsuccessful in their attempt to return the Bucs to the playoffs in 2011 and because of the team’s embarrassing 4-12 record, the Morris era officially ended the same day as the close of the regular season.
Now with Greg Schiano at the helm preparing to enter his second season as Buccaneers head coach, the franchise will embark on yet another quest to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2007. While the former Rutgers leader positioned the Bucs for success halfway through his rookie season in 2012, the team once again fell into a late-season lull, losing five of its last six games en route to a 7-9 finish.
But Schiano and the Bucs will not be judged on what they did last season and they will not be measured by their future potential.
They will in 2013, however, be analyzed for what they have done lately.