Bruce Arians is the newest head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Can he lead this team from the NFC South basement to an elusive division title?
Ponder for a moment that the only team in the league that currently owns a longer playoff drought than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers these days is the Cleveland Browns. The latter hasn’t been to the postseason since 2002. For the Bucs, then-head coach Jon Gruden led the club to a 9-7 finish and the NFC South title in 2007.
Since Gruden’s departure following the 2008 season, head coaches Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter combined for a 55-105 win-loss record. Koetter was let go after this past year following a second straight 5-11 finish.
After a year away from the sidelines, Bruce Arians is the Buccaneers’ newest leader. The two-time NFL Coach of the Year brings plenty of experience and has quite the challenge ahead of him. And if the Bucs are to supplant the New Orleans Saints as division champions, here are three things the team may want to focus on.
3. Learn how to win away from home
Yes, it’s easier said than done. But it wasn’t that long ago that this team actually posted a 5-3 road record. That was in 2016, when the Buccaneers won eight of their last 12 games (following a 1-3 start) and finished with a 9-7 record.
It’s been a dramatically different story since. The team is a combined 10-22 the past two seasons thanks to consecutive 5-11 campaigns. And each year, the Bucs finished with a 1-7 mark away from Raymond James Stadium. In 2018, the club kicked off the season with a wild 48-40 victory at New Orleans over the eventual division-champion Saints. But that would morph into seven straight road losses.
All told, the Buccaneers allowed a disappointing 464 points in 2018 — 178 at home and an unimaginable 286 points in eight road outings.