Well, are they? Those of us fans who have been around since the beginning have to be thinking it at this point. A roster with this much talent, an offense in its third season and a defense in its second season that finished strong last year should NOT be suffering losses like that last one in Arizona. Good teams don’t lose games like that. Good teams don’t get down 31-0 by the middle of the 3rd quarter. Good teams just don’t do those things. Maybe they’re just not a good team yet…OR maybe they really are a cursed franchise.
Did you know that no team has EVER lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the regular season, and gone on to win the Super Bowl?
I know, not bad enough for you, right?
How about the “cold weather curse”? The Buccaneers were 0-21 in games played in less than 40 degrees until they FINALLY broke that curse in December of 2002 when they beat the Bears 15-0 at Soldier Field in 30-degree weather.
Still not enough, huh?
What about the old “kickoff return curse”? It took the Bucs 32 seasons, 498 games, 1,865 attempts and 141 different players to break that one. Michael Spurlock FINALLY returned one 90 yards in December of 2009 to end that one.
Convinced yet? Still no? Okay…
There’s the “franchise QB curse”. Yes, hopefully, the Bucs have done away with this one too with the selection of Jameis Winston in the 2015 NFL Draft. Only time will tell. Prior to him though, the quarterback position has been an ongoing issue. Ever since 1982 when the team decided that $100,000 was too big of a difference and let then quarterback Doug Williams walk away from contract discussions. After three playoff appearances in four years, the Bucs went 14 years without a winning season. They’ve also had 23 different starting quarterbacks in that time, never signing any of them to a second contract.
You’re starting to believe now, aren’t you? Well, I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.
That brings us to the “coaching carousel curse”, also known as the “Gruden curse”. Since the Bucs fired head coach Jon Gruden in 2009 after two straight 9-7 seasons and a 57-55 record overall, the team has been through four head coaches in 8 seasons. Only two of those have been winning seasons. Raheem Morris pulled a 10-6 season out of his ass in 2010 and last year first-year head coach Dirk Koetter finished the 2016 season at 9-7. Morris finished with an overall record of 17-31 from 2009 to 2011. Greg Schiano went 11-21 in his two seasons. Lovie Smith was the worst with an 8-24 record in two seasons. And now Koetter is 11-10 so far in his tenure. Oh, and by the way, the Bucs have yet to return to the playoffs. With the exception of their original head coach John McKay, who was in Tampa for 9 seasons, Jon Gruden is the second-longest tenured coach in franchise history with 7 seasons as the Bucs head coach.
Now you’re a believer, huh? Well, listen to this!
The Buccaneers “kicking curse” is the latest one to rear its ugly head and one that has yet to be cured. Did you know that in their 42-year history, the Bucs have had 39 different kickers? Did you know that since 2001, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the worst regular season field goal percentage in the entire league at 77.5%? Did you also know that since 2001, the Buccaneers have the worst home field goal percentage in the entire league at an even worse 76.1%? Yeah, and that’s not the bad part.
Since the team decided against re-signing then kicker Matt Bryant to a new contract in 2009, they have been through ten different starting kickers. First was Mike Nugent in 2009 who made just two of his first six attempts before being released after four games. He was replaced by Connor Barth who came in and kicked fairly well making 91 of his 108 attempts for 84% while never missing an extra point in 110 attempts. All was good in the Bucs kicking world for a few years until Barth tore his Achilles playing a pickup basketball game in the 2013 offseason.
The Bucs then signed veteran kicker Lawrence Tynes to replace Barth, but he contracted MRSA during the preseason and never attempted a kick in Tampa. Next up was Rian Lindell who took over the kicking duties in 2013 but didn’t fare so well. He only made 23 of his 29 field goal attempts for 79% but he did make all 31 of his extra points. Patrick Murray replaced Lindell for the 2014 season and performed better making 20 of 24 attempts at 83% and all 31 of his extra points. Murray went on to tear his ACL in the 2014 preseason.
The 2015 season brought yet another new kicker to the team in Kyle Brindza who beat out Barth in the preseason. However, after missing three field goals and an extra point in Week 3 and another two field goals and another extra point in Week 4, he was released and Barth was brought back. He made 23 of his 28 attempts for 82% and 25 of his 26 extra points.
In 2016, Bucs general manager Jason Licht drafted kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the NFL Draft. Everyone in the organization and Bucs Nation thought that the most accurate kicker in NCAA history would FINALLY end the kicking carousel. We were all wrong. Aguayo went on to make only 71% of his 31 attempts while missing two extra points. This season, Aguayo was beaten out in the preseason by veteran kicker Nick Folk who was subsequently released four games into the season after making only 6 of his first 11 field goals and missing two extra points. The search continues…
Now, the Bucs have brought back Patrick Murray who apparently beat out a number of other kickers in what can only be described as an open tryout. If Murray can return to his earlier form, it could mean good things for the Bucs. In his first game with the team against the Arizona Cardinals, he only attempted one extra point which he made.
There may be other so-called “curses” that I’m forgetting at the moment, but there’s no denying what I’ve stated here. The Bucs have a history of bad luck, or bad Karma, or bad Mojo. They have something. Anyone who’s played competitive sports knows about superstitions. Is there some kind of curse over this franchise? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe this season it’s just the “Hard Knocks curse”. One thing is for certain. They need to start winning games. Fast. Or the “coaching curse” and the “kicking curse” and any other “curse” that’s been plaguing this team for years will continue to baffle the minds of Bucs fans everywhere.
Until then, as always…GO BUCS!!!