A team is only as good as the guy who leads them. While the Buccaneers have enjoyed 2 Super Bowl victories in its nearly 50 years of existence, the team has had its fair share of terrible bench bosses. Today, I’m gonna rank all 8 Head Coaches the Buccaneers have had since 1992!
8. Greg Schiano Tenure: (2012-13) Record: (11-21) Yes, the WORST era of Buccaneers football in the last 30 years. The Schiano era is looked at with misery and anguish among Bucs fans. The former Rutgers Head Coach was brought in following a 4-12 season and the subsequent firing of Raheem Morris. Schiano coined the phrase “The Buccaneer Way”, describing the new attitude he would implement with his new team. Schiano’s first season with the Buccaneers would pull a 7-9 but there was lots of optimism in Tampa to see what he could do in Year 2. The next year everything fell apart. The team did not appreciate Schiano’s drill sergeant like coaching, there would be a growing rift between him and starting quarterback Josh Freeman, the team caught MRSA, started 0-8 before finishing 4-12 and would finish dead last or near last in nearly every offensive category that season. Hated by the fans, hated by the team, Schiano would get the boot in December 2013. If you see this guy roaming the streets of Tampa, feel free to throw several tomatoes at him.
7. Lovie Smith Tenure: (2014-15) Record: (8-24) You would think after the disaster that was Greg Schiano the Bucs would be headed in the right direction right? Well, you’d be wrong! The Bucs decided to bring in Lovie Smith. Smith was a familiar face that had helped the Buccaneers win Super Bowl 37 serving as the linebackers coach, he also led the Chicago Bears to a Super Bowl as a Head Coach, what could go wrong? Smith wanted the team to focus on free agency and the draft to construct the Bucs into winners. The 2014 season was even worse than the year before. The Buccaneers got one mediocre season out of quarterback Josh McCown as him and backup Mike Glennon seemed to be in a competition to see who could lose worse. The Buccaneers finished with an abysmal 2-14 record and secured the #1 pick on the 2015 NFL Draft (later used on QB Jameis Winston). After Winston and the Bucs went 6-10, the Bucs severed its ties with Smith in January 2016.
6. Dirk Koetter Tenure: (2016-18) Record: (19-29) Call it recency bias if you want but the Buccaneers were one of the worst teams of the 2010s decade and these men were a large reason why. Koetter was the popular in house hire the Bucs made after firing Smith. The Buccaneers saw noticeable improvement in 2016, going 9-7, their best record since 2010 and missing the playoffs on a tie breaker. The only reason Koetter is below Raheem Morris is because Morris at least had a double digit winning season. Aside from a notorious horrible draft class, things seemed to be looking up for Tampa. The Bucs had a Top 20 offense for the first time since 2012 and Winston threw 28 touchdowns, what could go wrong? Well, everything. While the offense would slowly start to improve, it appeared the defense was regressing fast. After posting back to back 5-11 seasons in 2017 and 2018, the Buccaneers boasted the 31st scoring defense in the NFL and allowed a whopping 464 points. Not only did it take centuries to for the D-Line to get to the quarterback, we had absolutely NO coverage from the secondary. I like to call them the SR-22 defense, these guys couldn’t cover the tab at dinner, they couldn’t cover your shift at work, absolutely terrible. Koetter walked the plank in December 2018.
5. Raheem Morris Tenure: (2009-11) Record: (17-31) The hiring of Morris was seen as the changing of the guard. Buccaneer staples like Head Coach Jon Gruden, Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin and General Manager Bruce Allen were all out the door. Morris focused on a young and hungry defense, the “youngry” defense as fans would passionately call it. One of the first things Morris did was released some very popular veterans on the roster such as quarterback Jeff Garcia, wide receiver Joey Galloway and longtime defensive anchor, Derrick Brooks. Signing star Tight End Kellen Winslow II and drafting Quarterback Josh Freeman was only the beginning to the rebuild. The 09 Buccaneers started a pathetic 0-7 before finishing with a pitiful 3-13 record but it was the 2010 team that puts Morris so high on this list. The 2010 season may be arguably the most surprising season in franchise history. The Bucs went 10-6 behind the offensive firepower of Freeman, rookie wide receiver Mike Williams and running back LaGarrette Blount. The 2010 Bucs would miss the playoffs due to a tiebreaker with the Green Bay Packers. That 2010 team is the most talented Bucs team to never make the playoffs. In 2011, everything fell apart. Attendance would slip during games, many games blacked out on TV, Josh Freeman threw over triple his interceptions from 2010 and was second in the NFL with 22 and despite starting 4-2, the Bucs somehow found a way to lose the last 10 games. Morris and his staff were canned after being obliterated by the Atlanta Falcons 45-24 in Week 17. So much potential, put to waste in this era.
4. Sam Wyche Tenure: (1992-1995) Record: (23-41) Selected to fix the 3-13 Bucs of the 91 season, Wyche never had a winning record in any of his four seasons as Head Coach. His determination to turn struggling quarterback Vinny Testaverde into a great player pretty much sums up his Bucs tenure, it was a great thought but horrible execution. The 1992 Bucs started 3-1 before dropping 10 of their last 11 games in impressive fashion. They also had the worst special teams unit that season and the 4th worst in NFL history. RB Reggie Cobb became just the 3rd back in the team’s history to rush for 1000 yards, the Bucs have been around since 1976 for Pete’s sake! While I understand Wyche was Head Coach under Hugh Culverhouse, one of the worst owners ever, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the Bucs were never at least average. What gives Wyche the edge over other horrible coaches was his ability to find talent. During his tenure, the Bucs would draft star safety John Lynch in the 3rd round of the 1993 draft, sign star linebacker Hardy Nickerson away from the Steelers and draft two future Hall of Famers in Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp in the first round of the 1995 draft. The Bucs don’t win Super Bowl 37 without Wyche’s decision making.
3. Jon Gruden Tenure: (2002-08) Record: (57-55) Aw yes, the first Buccaneers Coach on the list to have more than one winning season. In fact, Gruden has the rare feat of having a positive winning percentage during his tenure as Head Coach of the Buccaneers. To say Gruden’s tenure was turbulent would be an understatement. After firing legendary coach Tony Dungy, the Bucs were desperate to get over that hump and make the Super Bowl, they traded 2 firsts, 2 seconds and 8 million dollars in cash to acquire the former Raiders Head Coach. The gamble would pay off as Gruden helped the Bucs dismantle his former Oakland squad in Super Bowl 37. However, the joy would be short lived, the 2003 Bucs didn’t even make the playoffs. As the years went on, more players from the Super Bowl team would depart. By the 2005 season, the next time the Bucs would be in the postseason, stars like John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Keenan McCardell and Brad Johnson would be off the team. While Gruden would have some good moments like 3 1st place finishes in the NFC South and drafting Offensive Rookie of the Year Cadillac Williams, the Bucs never made it out of the Wild Card round after 2002 and their “Cadillac” was always out with repairs. Gruden finished his Bucs tenure after the 2008 season with a 9-7 record, 4 straight losses to end the year and in a bit of irony, losing to the Oakland Raiders which eliminated the Bucs from playoff contention.
2. Bruce Arians Tenure: (2019-21) Record: (31-18) The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a resurgence during the 2020s decade and this man deserves a lot of credit. The acclaimed “quarterback whisper” would be named the 12th Head Coach in Buccaneers history after the 2018 season. After posting a 7-9 record in his first year as Head Coach, it would change the Buccaneers from the inside out. Arians brought legitimacy back to Tampa. For once, I told people the Bucs had a shot at the Super Bowl and wasn’t offered a career in comedy. Arians thankfully got rid off the atrocious “alarm clock” jerseys Tampa was wearing, opting for a modern twist to an old classic. Arians would also bring on Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles as his offensive and defensive coordinators. In 2020, Arians made the biggest splash of NFL free agency, luring Tom Brady, who many consider the greatest to ever play, to come play for the Buccaneers. Arians would also acquire big names such as Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown, Ryan Succop and 1st round pick Tristan Wirfs. Not only would Arians finally bring the Bucs to the playoffs after 13 long seasons, he and the Bucs would defeat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 in Super Bowl 55, becoming the first team to host the Super Bowl and win. The next year, Arians would bring the Bucs their first division title since the 2007 season. Arians would retire from Head Coach before 2022 season but would continue to be a consultant to the team. Easily the most successful tenure in team history but there’s one coach that gets the crown from me.
1. Tony Dungy Tenure: (1996-01) Record: (54-42) Yes, I said it! It is Tony Dungy that is Tampa Bay’s coaching GOAT. Taking over for Sam Wyche in the 1996 season, Dungy was under extreme pressure to fix the Buccaneers, one of the worst franchises in the NFL. There was doubt ahead of the 96 season whether the Bucs would even remain in Tampa Bay but gradually Dungy worked to fix the culture of the Buccaneers. Dungy hired Monte Kiffin as his defensive coordinator and together they would create a defense that would give offenses fits for the next several years, a modified Cover 2, dubbed the “Tampa 2” defense. In just his second year, Dungy dug the Bucs out of the pits of mediocrity. He got rid of the Creamsicles, erasing the painful memories of the past decades, he would also be named Coach of the Year, leading the Buccaneers to a 10-6 record, their first winning season in ages. He sent Trent Dilfer to the Pro Bowl, that in itself deserves high praise. This was a new look Bucs team. Under Dungy, the Bucs would be the only loss the Minnesota Vikings suffered in the regular season in 1998, won their first division title in nearly 2 decades in 99, went to their first Conference Championship since the late 70s in 99 and never had a scoring defense outside of the Top 10 during his time as Head Coach. Tony Dungy changed the culture of this pitiful franchise. Changing the “Yucks” back into the “Bucs” and for all that, he is the best coach the Buccaneers have had in the last 30 years.