22 years ago, the Tony Dungy led the Buccaneers opened his second season against one of dynasty franchises of the 1980s and early to mid 90s, the 49ers.
When it was all said and done, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott and Tampa Bay had upset Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Co. The Bucs became immediate darlings appearing on the prestigious cover of Sports Illustrated later that week and eventually, winning their first five games on their way to a 10-win season and the first playoff berth in over 15 years.
Our colleague Paul Stewart of Bucpower.com, the historical site of the franchise, re-lives that day in September of 1997 below:
It proved to be one of the most decisive games in the history of the franchise.
The start of every NFL season sees every team full of hope and expectation. Last year’s record forgotten, draft picks look superb and fans all believe this is their year. Franchises are no different with slogans and marketing catch phrases to capture that enthusiasm such as the 1997 Buccaneers who had “A New Day in Tampa Bay” as their main moniker for the season.
Except it really was. Tony Dungy’s (above) first Tampa team had finished the previous season 5-2 and every pundit was making the Bucs their hot pick. They even had new uniforms as the creamsicles and Buccaneer Bruce had been replaced by Pewter Power. One problem – the San Francisco 49ers were coming into town for the season opener.
Steve Young and Jerry Rice, multiple Super Bowls and a legacy of domination over the past decade and a half. And the Buccaneers won in a game seen by many as the turning point in the franchise’s history that would lead to a Super Bowl victory after the 2002 season.
The Bucs had a defensive superstar on the ascendancy and the third-year Warren Sapp had 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Both Young and Rice went out of the game injured and the Niners gained less than 200 yards in total offense. “You try losing a Hall of Famer and see how you fare,” Bucs linebacker Hardy Nickerson said. “We showed that they’re just an average football team without those two guys.”
The Bucs had squandered multiple scoring chances and still trailed 6-3 in the fourth quarter until QB Trent Dilfer capped a 52-yard, seven-play drive with a one-yard scoring pass to TE Dave Moore. K Michael Husted added an insurance field goal on the next drive and the Bucs won 13-6.
“Since I’ve been here, at least, we’ve never been able to come back from those things,” said Dilfer, who completed 15 of 26 passes for 184 yards and no interceptions. “The greatest thing about today was everything that’s been preached to us under Coach [Tony] Dungy and his staff came true.”
The 1997 Bucs would go on to win five straight games to lead the NFL by the end of September but the arrival of the San Francisco 49ers in Tampa to open the season led to a major turnaround in the history of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “This team grew up today,” Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said.
Yes, they did.
(The full recap with photos is here on Paul’s site: www.bucpower.com/1997game1.htm)
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.