This season was one of the first in a few years that the Tampa Bay coaching staff went into the season with almost the exact same personnel as the season before. Departures like Mike Tomlin, Joe Barry, Raheem Morris (now back obviously), and Rod Marinelli to name a few, have been defecting from the Bucs for the past few years in order to land jobs higher up on the coaching ladder. Although we went into the season with the same staff, due to Monte Kiffin’s departure to the Volunteers, and some poor play by some of our units, I would expect the defensive staff to have a few changes once again.
Yds/Gm – 14th
Pts/Gm – 19th
Time of Possession – 4th
Yards p/play – 16th
Penalty Yards – 4th most
The Bucs improved on their 2007 offensive numbers but as you can see by our offensive ranks, we are still in the middle of the pack as far as offensive performance. We had good success running the ball this season which contributed to our #4 ranking in time of possession, but once we got in a position to score, we were horrendous.
Some areas of the offense experienced great improvement, but I don’t know that can be attributed to coaching so much as it can be to more experience and an addition to the team. Take the offensive line for instance. The unit moved a step forward in 08, but the extra year of PT for Aaron Sears, Davin Joseph, Jeremy Trueblood and LT Donald Penn, coupled with the veteran addition of Jeff Faine, you would have expected this unit to improve, regardless of the coaching. Bill Muir’s unit was still horrible in the costly penalty department, and was a large contributor to our 4th most penalties in the league. It seemed as though Jeremy Trueblood regressed in all departments.
Yds/Gm – 9th
Pts/Gm – 10th
Penalty Yards – 20th most
Pass Yds – 4th
Rush Yds – 19th
Our defensive unit started out the season looking like a similar unit to the Bucs defense from our Super Bowl year. We were generating tons of pressure, generating multiple turnovers a game, not allowing any 100 yard rushers, and making good QB’s look pedestrian. We had only allowed 1 back to rush for 100 yards through the first 12 weeks of the year, as well as only allowing 1 back to run for a touchdown. As you can see by our final ranking of 19th in the rushing yards allowed per game department (118.8) the last 4 weeks of the season we were dismantled on the ground. Injuries were playing a part (Chris Hovan, Jovan Haye, Kevin Carter, Gaines Adams, Greg White) all were hurt at some point during the last 4 weeks of the year, but there was a fundamental dysfunction with the defensive unit as a whole that was allowing backs to run wild like Barry Sanders on us for the last quarter of the year.
I did not feel one unit stood out defensively, although the secondary certainly operated at a higher level than the LB unit or the DL, still below par for what Bucs fans are accustomed to, and what our depth on defense would indicate.
Although an unabashed Jon Gruden supporter, I still thought that there was a very good possibility that he could be fired after our 4 game collapse to the end the year. We were the only team in the history of the AFL-NFL merger to start 9-3 and not make the playoffs. I am happy that he will be here next season (although I still don’t think he is out of the water as far as keeping his job for next year), but he will be on a very short leash next year. Defensively we were strong to start the year, and poor to end it, and the end of the year was the main cause for our historic collapse.