“YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME! HELLO?!?”
According to former Bucs’ Defensive Backs Coach and current ESPN NFL Analyst, Herman Edwards, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be playing to win Super Bowl XLIX against the Pittsburgh Steelers this upcoming February.
This is the first time in a long time that the Bucs are being predicted to take part in the league’s big game by a notable NFL analyst. You will likely have to go back to the days of the Jon Gruden era, where such predictions became commonplace after the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII against the Oakland Raiders.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t won a playoff game since that Super Bowl on January 26th, 2003, and haven’t been to the playoffs since the 2007 season, in which they lost at home in the wild card round to the eventual champion New York Giants.
Raheem Morris’ 2010 squad almost capped off a miracle season with a playoff berth after going 10-6, but fell just short of qualifying because of a tiebreaker with the Green Bay Packers for the tournament’s final spot. The Packers went on to win the Super Bowl, and Raheem Morris was fired after the following season.
While it is great that Herman Edwards has confidence that the Buccaneers can finally get back to their winning ways in the form of a Super Bowl appearance, you also have to consider the source.
Edwards has worked with both Bucs’ Head Coach Lovie Smith, and Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin as assistants on Tony Dungy’s Buccaneers staff. He has a personal relationship with both of them, and on the surface, neither team seems quite ready for a championship run.
Both teams’ head coaches have been to the Super Bowl before. Lovie Smith lost to Tony Dungy’s Indianapolis Colts squad, while Mike Tomlin became the youngest head coach in NFL history to win the Super Bowl, as his Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals at Raymond James Stadium.
The last time the Buccaneers hired a veteran NFL head coach, they won the Super Bowl immediately.
The difference between Jon Gruden’s situation then, and Lovie Smith’s now is this: Before, the Bucs were a playoff team that couldn’t get over the hump and make it to the big game. Now, they’re struggling to put together a team that is consistent enough to even get into the tournament.
But enough with the history lesson.
Edwards’ claim is as farfetched as they come. To truly expect a 4-12 team without a proven franchise quarterback to make a Super Bowl run based solely on the head coach they brought in and the subsequent offseason acquisitions is a little misguided. While the Buccaneers will undoubtedly be an improved football team, going from grotesque to great takes some time, and will come with plenty of bumps in the road.
While we should look to Herman Edwards’ prediction as a sign of hope for the upcoming year, we shouldn’t take it as gospel. The Bucs have made improvements on paper, but until they show up on the field, there is nothing “super” about these Buccaneers just yet.
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