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Offline Bob Fox

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The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Bucs are Going Back in Time
« on: December 02, 2017, 02:56:49 PM »
The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Bucs are Going Back in Time

By Bob Fox

It’s been 23 years since the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced each other with both teams having a losing record. The last time this occurred was in Week 4 of the 1994 NFL season, when the 1-2 Bucs traveled to Lambeau Field to take on the also 1-2 Packers.

That was when the Packers and Bucs resided in the same division, the NFC Central. In fact, the two teams were in the same division for 25 years from 1977 through 2001. Now the Packers play in the NFC North, while the Bucs play in the NFC South.

The 2017 season has been a very disappointing one for both the 4-7 Bucs and the 5-6 Packers, who will play this Sunday at Lambeau Field. Both teams have been ravaged by injuries to their offensive lines, plus both squads have seen their talented starting quarterbacks miss time due to injuries. Those are just a couple reasons why both teams are under .500 this season.

Jameis Winston (shoulder) will return as starting quarterback for the Bucs this Sunday after missing the last three weeks, while Aaron Rodgers (broken collarbone in Week 6) might return to practice on Saturday. The earliest Rodgers can return to the lineup is December 17 (Week 15), as he is currently on injured reserve.

But looking back around 30 years or so ago, both the Bucs and the Packers were almost always under .500. As a matter of fact, when ESPN was doing their NFL Primetime show back in the late 80s, Chris Berman and the late Pete Axthelm coined the phrase “the Bay of Pigs”, talking about any matchup between the Packers and the Buccaneers.  The actual Bay of Pigs episode happened very early in the John F. Kennedy administration in April, 1961, when an attempted invasion of Cuba was woefully executed, mostly due to poor CIA planning.

Like the attempted invasion of Cuba in 1961, both the Packers and Bucs in the late 80s were also woeful.  It started for the Packers in 1986, when head coach Forrest Gregg gutted the team to try and bring some youth to the squad.  The Pack suffered losing seasons of 4-12, 5-9-1 and 4-12 from 1986-1988.  It was in 1988 Lindy Infante started his head coaching regime.

Infante, with the help of quarterback Don Majkowski, led the Packers to a 10-6 record in 1989.  However, the success was short lived as the team was 6-10 in 1990 and 4-12 in 1991.  Infante lost his job after the 1991 season when Ron Wolf arrived on the scene.

The Packers stopped their free fall in 1992, when head coach Mike Holmgren and quarterback Brett Favre both came to Green Bay via Wolf.  Since then, except for two years (2005 and 2008), the Packers have been .500 or better every year.

Of course, the team has also won two Super Bowls, one after the 1996 season, and one after the 2010 season.  The Packers have also been in 39 playoff games since 1993, winning 21 of those games.

Current head coach Mike McCarthy has a career 119-67-1 regular season record in 11-plus years in Green Bay. He also has a 10-8 record in the playoffs which includes the win in Super Bowl XLV. The Packers have also been to the postseason eight straight years under McCarthy.

The Bucs had success early in their franchise history winning the NFC Central in both 1979 and 1981 under head coach John McKay.  In fact, the 1979 team made the NFC title game.  Even with that success, people always talked about the 0-26 start when the franchise became an expansion team in 1976, when Wolf was then the general manager of the Bucs. Wolf remained in that role through the 1978 season.

But after the successes in 1979 and 1981, things got progressively worse for the Bucs beginning in 1983, when the team went 2-14.

The Bucs suffered 12 straight double digit losing seasons from 1983 until 1994, and didn’t have a winning record until 1997, when the team went 10-6.  The biggest reason for the turnaround was head coach Tony Dungy.

Dungy coached from 1996-2001 and led the Bucs to a 54-42 record overall, including the 1999 NFC Central crown and appearance in the NFC title game that year, but the playoffs overall were Dungy’s Achilles heel in Tampa.

The Bucs couldn’t seem to get over the hump under Dungy during the playoffs, and the Glazer family finally made a coaching change in 2002.  Former Packer assistant coach Jon Gruden took over as head coach in 2002, and sure enough, the team won it all, as the Bucs beat Gruden’s former team, the Oakland Raiders, in the Super Bowl that year.

But over the next six years, the Bucs were very inconsistent under Gruden. The team only made the postseason twice, never won a playoff game and were under .500 in three of those seasons.

That it when the Glazer family decided to make another coaching change and move on from Gruden. Since then, the Glazer family has been busy making changes at head coach.

Raheem Morris was hired to replace Gruden in 2009 and he lasted through the 2011 season before he was fired. The record of the Bucs during that time was 17-31, although the team was 10-6 in 2010 and narrowly missed the playoffs.

Greg Schiano took over for Morris in 2012 and lasted all of two seasons, as the Bucs went 11-21 during Schiano’s short regime.

In 2014, the Bucs then brought back Lovie Smith, who had been linebackers coach of the Bucs back in the Dungy era and also had experienced nice success as a head coach with the Chicago Bears (81-63 and three playoff appearances).

Like the Schiano era, the Smith era lasted only two seasons, as the Bucs went 8-24 overall in 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, the Bucs made their offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter the head coach to replace Smith. Koetter remains in that position to this day, although there has been some speculation about the Bucs possibly bringing back Gruden depending how Tampa Bay finishes the 2017 season. In the 27 games that Koetter has coached the Bucs, the team has gone 13-14.

Going into the 2017 season, both the Packers and Bucs had high expectations about how their teams would do.

The Packers won six straight games to finish the 2016 season and win the NFC North, plus won two more playoff games to advance to the NFC title game, before they were soundly beaten by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Bucs were 9-7 last season and looked to be a team on the upswing heading into the 2017 season.

A lot of the optimism for the two teams came from the play of their quarterbacks last season.

Rodgers had another fantastic season in 2016, as he threw 40 touchdown passes versus just seven picks for 4,428 yards. His passer rating was 104.2, which is almost identical to his career passer rating of 104.1, which is the best of all time.

Winston improved on his rookie stats from 2015 in almost every category like completion percentage (60.8), touchdown passes (28) yards passing (4,090) and passer rating (86.1). That being said, Winston did throw three more interceptions than he did his rookie year, as he threw 18 last season.

Rodgers did his part while he was in the lineup this season, as the Packers went 4-1 to start the 2017 campaign. But in game 6 against the Minnesota Vikings, he broke his collarbone on a tackle by Anthony Barr. Up until that point, Rodgers was having a typical season, as he had thrown 13 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions. No. 12’s passer rating was again close to his career average, as it was 103.2.

In the eight games that Winston started for the Bucs this year, the team went 2-6. In those eight games, Winston threw 10 touchdown passes versus six picks for 1,920 yards. No. 3’s passer rating was 87.3.

Since Rodgers has been injured, the Packers have gone 1-5. There have been some obvious growing pains with Brett Hundley playing quarterback for the team in place of Rodgers, but Hundley did have the best game of his career in last Sunday’s night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, as he threw three touchdown passes without a pick for 245 yards. Hundley’s passer rating in that game was 134.3.

Coincidentally, Hundley was part of the same draft class with Winston in 2015. While Winston (Florida State) was the first overall pick of that draft by the Bucs, Hundley (UCLA) lasted until the fifth round when the Packers traded up to select him.

In the three games that Winston has missed, the Bucs have gone 2-1 behind backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw three touchdown passes compared to just one pick in those three games.

But in the game on Sunday against the Pack, Winston will be back under center, but he’ll also be missing two of his best offensive linemen, with both center Ali Marpet and right tackle Demar Dotson being placed on injured reserve this past week.

The Packers will continue to start Hundley until at least Week 15, when Rodgers could be coming back. But that might not happen unless the Packers win the next two games against the Bucs on Sunday and then the Browns next week in Cleveland. Two wins would put Green Bay 7-6 and still alive for a spot in the playoffs. But if the Packers lose against the Bucs or Browns, or both, the team might decide to just shut Rodgers down for the season and not risk further injury.

Besides the shoulder injury Winston suffered, he is currently being investigated by the NFL regarding an accusation of sexual misconduct by an Uber driver back in March of 2016.

If all that wasn’t bad enough for the Bucs, they also play in the toughest division in the NFL right now. The New Orleans Saints are currently 8-3 and on top of the NFC South, while the Carolina Panthers are also 8-3 and the Atlanta Falcons are 7-4.

The Packers are also in a tough division, as the Vikings are 9-2, while the Detroit Lions are 6-5.

The bottom line is that the odds don’t look very good for the Packers and Bucs to reach the goals that each team set before the season. To even have a chance to make the playoffs in 2017, each team would have to win the last five games of the regular season.

That obviously won’t have a chance to happen for one of the two teams after Sunday’s game at Lambeau.

Still, even with the  disappointment so far for each team in 2017, it’s still a hell of a lot better than the “Bay of Pigs” era back in the late 1980s.


About the Author

Bob closely follows the Packers, Badgers, Brewers, Bucks, Golden Eagles and Panthers, but also enjoys sports in Florida as he is a big supporter of the Lightning, Rays, Gators and Bulls, plus enjoys the Bucs, when they aren’t playing the Packers.

Bob always had the itch to return to the media, and he became a writer at a Packer website called ThaPack for a couple of years, before he joined Packer Report, where he was for several years, before joining Wisconsin Sports Online (Packer Chatters) writing about the Packers, Badgers and Brewers.

Bob worked as a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report from November of 2011 into June of 2015, mainly covering the Green Bay Packers, but also did columns for teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Wisconsin Badgers as well.

Bob currently writes in his Blog at WordPress and also at LandryFootball.com.

Online ricky

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Re: The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Bucs are Going Back in Time
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2017, 04:42:06 PM »
Yep, old times. The "Bay of Pigs" (Tampa v GB, and of course the debacle in Cuba, which led directly to the missle crisis). Forrestbeing  Gregg and his thug regime that is still a stain on the Packers legacy of "Packer people", How bad was it? Mossy Cade was drafted by the Packers, and was kept onthe team even after being tried for rape. Ff his aunt.. Read and shudder:

Then there was the cheap shot on an interception, when Warren Sapp leveled Chad Clifton and almost ended his career. Anyone who says it wasn't a cheap shot, please, ask yourself, given the same circumstances, would you have done that? If you say yes, then I have no further use for you. Is this hindsight? Hardly. I was a Packers fan during this time, and was embarrassed by Gregg's effect on the team. This was suring the time when DL Charles Martin wore a towel with the numbers of opposing players (Bears), and literally picked up Jim McMahon into the ground shoulder first into the ground after an interception, though the two of them were standing next to each other, watching the action, and McMahon was making no move toward interacting on the play.

So, thanks for the stroll down memory lane, Bob. Though the back and forth between Sapp and Favre was a lot of fun two watch. Though I seem to remember the OL was not happy with Favre, because they were the ones who had to try to handle an angry, motivated Sapp. Which, by the way, seems to be the perfect name for the guy.
"My hopes are not always realized, but I always hope." Ovid

Offline Bob Fox

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Re: The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Bucs are Going Back in Time
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 10:15:32 AM »
My pleasure, Ricky! You should have heard sports talk radio this week in Tampa. Talk about getting emotional.  ::) 8)