For so long now, losing has been ingrained in Buccaneer football. A permanent black cloud has settled over the Bay Area in the shape of an L. The horrible reality for any fan born after January 6, 2008, is that the Bucs have not played postseason football in their lifetime. Admittedly, that covers the team’s next generation of fans age 11 and under.
The last time the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won in the postseason? To answer that you have to reach back to January 26, 2003. That’s right! Fans in Tampa are just over a week away from the last playoff win 16 years ago. I’m sure every fan knows the significance of the last postseason win.
If the Bucs make the postseason in 2019 it will close the chapter on a 12-year absence. Although that would be better than the 15-year wilderness between 1982 and 1997.
To offer a contrast, in the decade between 1997 (first playoff appearance for 15 years) and 2007 (last playoff game for 12 years minimum), the Buccaneers made the playoffs seven times. Tampa Bay was a serious contender in those years and often debated if they would be a Super Bowl team. Teams would look at the calendar and not automatically write a W next to the Bucs game. Those days are long gone.
So why should fans not lose hope?
There are lots of superficial reasons and plenty of substance to some reasons. Firstly, the most superficial: in 1997 Bucco Bruce and the Creamsicle were retired and a new image and kits for the team were issued. There are rumblings of rumours that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are updating their uniforms.
More seriously, the head coaches. In 1996, Tony Dungy took over an underperforming team with star players on the roster. He brought in a talented coaching staff and got the most out of the players, and results started to follow. Outside of that 6-10 first season there were no more losing seasons.
In 2019, Bruce Arians took over an underperforming team, a team that has talent all over the roster. In 2013, Arians took over an Arizona Cardinals team that had gone 5-11 the previous year. That 2013 season saw Arians and the Cardinals win 10 games on route to postseason football. The last time fans in Tampa saw 10 wins in a season was when Raheem Morris and Josh Freeman led the “Youngry” Bucs to narrowly missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker with Green Bay.
There are so many things for fans in Tampa to be positive about right now. Teams don’t start pushing for the postseason in August—they start the day after their season ends. The front office has certainly made positive steps to ending a long and frustrating period for Buccaneers fans, young and old.