On February 18, 2002, a trade that shook the NFL was made between the Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was early in the morning when Jon Gruden learned he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two first round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million dollars. Tampa Bay had a great team that year but seemed to be missing the final piece to lead the ship. Was Jon Gruden that missing link?
In 2002, Tampa Bay was a monster defensively. They had guys like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, and Simeon Rice. The offense’s job was to just not turn the ball over and more often the not Tampa was going to win the game. Brad Johnson led the offense. Micheal Pittman and Mike Alstott controlled the running game. Keyshawn Johnson, Keenan McCardell, and Joe Jurevicius led the aerial attack. The Buccaneers ranked 18th offensively and 1st overall defensively in 2002.
Almost 12 months later, Jon Gruden led the Buccaneers to its first ever Superbowl. He coincidentally defeated the team that traded him to the Buccaneers (Oakland Raiders). The game was a defensive show by the Buccaneers. The MVP for Superbowl XXXVII was Safety Dexter Jackson. It was only fitting a defensive player would win the honors. Tampa Bay fans rejoiced watching Gruden and the rest of the Buccaneers hoist the Lombardi trophy that year. We had finally found our coach, but would things always be this good for the Buccaneers.
Unfortunately, Buccaneers fan saw the departure of Gruden in 2008. We never would make it back to the Superbowl. However, there were talks after last year that maybe the Buccaneers and Gruden would be reuniting in 2018. Could it actually happen for the Buccaneers again? Koetter had a miserable year with the Buccaneers in 2017. The team was one of the most hyped teams in the offseason, but never lived up to expectations. The Gruden talks were heating up, but out of nowhere, GM Jason Licht announces that Head Coach Dirk Koetter will be there in 2018 leading the Buccaneers. All hopes of a reunion were over and Buccaneers fans couldn’t believe it. Why would we bring back Koetter it makes no sense? Well, maybe it makes more sense than what we all thought after hearing remarks from Jon Gruden.
Gruden was interviewed and was asked when he, in fact, took the Buccaneers off the list of potential suitors. He responded as only Chucky can with,” When they fired me.” It sounds like Coach Gruden still may be a little bitter about his departure, but in all actuality maybe the Buccaneers didn’t want to pony up the dough that Oakland did for Gruden (10 years- 100 million). The Buccaneers have since moved on from the Gruden talks and have done everything possible to help this year’s team. Brenston Buckner was brought in to help the defensive line. Buckner is ready to get the Buccaneers back to the 2002 defensive line that made people fear the Bucs. It was a good fantasy while it last Bucs’ fans, but maybe the game has surpassed our beloved Coach Gruden. Only time will tell, but we have to support Coach Koetter and the rest of our staff. Maybe this will be the year that we get back to the playoffs and hoist a Lombardi Trophy again.