Any time an NFL team sits at 5-2 just seven weeks into the season, it seems like reason for joy. That is until you take an historical look at what 5-2 has meant to the Buccaneers over the years. Then, you start to realize that there is a whole lot of work yet to be done.
This Record Can Be Reason For Celebration
John McKay and those worst-to-first 1979 Buccaneers started 5-2. We know how that ended. The teams first trip to the playoffs and their first playoff victory in franchise history. They’d go on to lose in the NFC Championship game to the Los Angeles Rams.
In 1997 the team started 5-2. In Tony Dungy’s second season as head coach, the team made the playoffs and won the last game ever played at the Big Sombrero. A 20-10 victory over the Detroit Lions in the wildcard playoff game. Being the last game at the Sombrero, and the first playoff game victory in a long while, the celebration lasted well beyond the final whistle. The Buccaneers would lose to the eventual Super Bowl winning Green Bay Packers the following weekend.
Breaking out of the gates at 5-2 in 2002 would be the start of great things to come. The team would only lose three more games the entire season to finish 12-4. With one of the best defenses in the history of the NFL, the 2002 Buccaneers would take it all the way to San Diego and a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Other Side Of The Coin
It’s not how you start, but how you finish. In 1995, shortly after Sam Wyche pointed out to the media that the record was five-dash-two, the team would lose seven of the next nine games and Wyche would be fired at the end of the season.
In 2005, the team stated 5-2 under Jon Gruden. They would finish 11-5 and win the NFC South. Cadillac Williams won offensive rookie of the year. They would lose a wildcard game to the Washington football team 10-6.
In 2007, the Buccaneers would again start the season 5-2. As a result of the previous seasons 4-12 record, the improvement felt a bit like a yo-yo. Finishing 9-7, this would be the last season to date that the team qualified for the playoffs, as well as won the NFC South title.
In 2008, another 5-2 start gave Buccaneers fans a little optimism. Losing the last four games in a row and not making the playoffs created the opposite effect. By now the Buccaneers brass had seen enough. Both Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen were shown the door.
The second year under Raheem Morris in 2010 saw a 5-2 start on the season. The 10-6 record on the year was a seven game improvement from the year before. The team failed to sell out any of their home games the entire season. Also, as a result of a strong NFC South division, the 10-6 mark was good enough only for third place in the division and no playoff appearance. This would be the teams last winning season until 2016.
Take It With A Grain Of Salt
The 5-2 team currently preparing over at the Advent Health Training Facility is not like any of those previous 5-2 teams. This Buccaneers team is just cranking up and shows only signs of improvement. As a result, Buccaneers fans are letting their freak flags fly, and so they should.
First up are the New York Giants on Monday night. The schedule then gets a little tougher as the Chiefs, Saints, and Rams will be coming to town. This Bruce Arians squad will be taking these games one at a time. And so they should. If history has taught us anything. It is that just because a team is sitting at 5-dash-2. It’s not how you start, but how you finish. The 2020 Buccaneers are looking to finish strong.