Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season ends, how will it be remembered?

TAMPA — If the Bucs win their 10th game today by beating the Raiders but don't reach the playoffs, is it a successful season?

First, a little perspective: Only six times in the franchise's previous 32 seasons have the Bucs reached double-digit victories.

And yet, after matching their best 12-game start with a 9-3 record this year, not earning a spot in the postseason has the feeling of … a choke and a collapse.

Both perspectives are probably accurate.

In a bottom-line business such as pro football, success is measured in championships. Only one team finishes the year with a win.

What makes a successful season?

"It's got to be winning Super Bowls," coach Jon Gruden said. "That's the only thing that qualifies true success. Making the playoffs … I've been there, been eliminated, been yelled out, cussed out the next six months before training camp. There are no complimentary bowl games for all of us to go to and maybe enjoy the offseason a little bit more.

"As a coach, you really try not to worry about all of that. … You've got to keep everything into a true perspective, and not everybody will agree with you.

"Some say we've overachieved as a football team. Some say, 'You've choked down the stretch; it's a colossal collapse.' But we're 9-6, and if you look around the league, it's a good season. But at the same time, as long as I'm in this position, winning championships and competing for championships is successful. And if you're not there, you have to either change the coach or add some more pieces to your puzzle. That's this business."

Of course, Gruden isn't going anywhere. Not next season, anyway. He already has begun hiring his coaching staff by naming Raheem Morris the defensive coordinator for 2009.

But it's fair to ask that if Tony Dungy can be fired for not getting the Bucs past the first round of the playoffs in 2001 — he reached the postseason four times in six years — can Gruden be held accountable for not reaching the postseason four times in the past six years and not winning once since 2002?

Linebacker Derrick Brooks says it's fair for fans to say the Bucs collapsed if they don't reach the playoffs today. Tampa Bay needs a win over Oakland and a loss by Dallas at Philadelphia to claim the final wild card in the NFC.

"Because of where we're at, I think those are warranted," Brooks said. "Now if we were 1-and-whatever and won nine or 10 in a row, then it's a great season. They all just fell one short. But I said it earlier, because of this franchise's history, how many times have we won 10 games? So yeah, it will be a success. But people will say that because of where we were. But you ask that same person the same question in August, they would've taken 10 wins."

Brooks has suffered through seasons of disappointment before. One year after reaching the NFC Championship Game, the 2000 team went 10-6 but lost in the first round of the playoffs. This would be a different kind of disappointment, he said.

"Of course, but again, I firmly believe in we get what we deserve," Brooks said. "We had an opportunity and didn't take advantage of it. Whoever you're talking to, it's their perspective as to what you're going to get."

When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season ends, how will it be remembered? 12/27/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 6:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Sunday's Rays-Twins game

    The Heater

    The Rays won because they got two innings of good relief from each of the two pitchers who contributed to them losing Saturday's game, Danny Farquhar (who again struck out Miguel Sano) and Tommy Hunter, who both posted zeroes.