No one has ever done bad like the Bucs

by Gary Shelton on December 13, 2017 · 0 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

Let's get this straight from the start.

The 2008 Detroit Lions would clock the 2017 Cleveland Browns. And those same Browns would turn around and embarrass the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs.

We do not know a lot about excellence here in Tampa Bay except that it lasts about eight minutes. But bad? We know bad. We've seen bad. We know that it smells bad and looks back and feels bad.

And frankly, no one does bad like Tampa Bay.

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Oh, lifetime, the Bucs have an edge on  both the Lions and Browns. Tampa Bay has won a Super Bowl (granted, just one), but Cleveland and Detroit are still dreaming. So we would decline the lifetime bad award.

But one season? Really?

For one season, no one can play down to the Bucs.

This is pertinent, of course, because of Cleveland's dedication to going winless. The Browns, a problem of dysfunction from above, certainly look capable. And the Lions were bad enough for the history books. If you consider the money that Detroit had, the draft picks it wasted, the free agent periods it failed in, heck, you can argue that the feat of going winless in 2008 was grander than it was in '76.

But if you're talking bad, you're talking Bucs, who are only four wins better than that expansion team in 2017. They were worse than the '82 Colts, who went 0-8-1. They were worse than the '60 Cowboys, who went 0-11-1. Worse than the '44 Brooklyn Tigers, who went 0-10-0 in a day when they didn't televise embarrassment. They were worse than the '43 Cards-Steelers (0-8), and the '43 Chicago Cardinals (0-10), and the '42 Lions (0-11). Worse than the '34 Cincinnati Reds (0-8), the '25 Columbus Tigers (0-9) or the '22 Columbus Panhandlers (0-8).

In the grand scheme of things, going winless isn't really that rare in the NFL.

But losing like the Bucs lost? That's rare.They were the worst there ever was.

Heck, blame the league if you want. Around 1976, the league looked down its nose on new teams. It didn't believe an expansion team should be very good, and it made darned sure that it wasn't going to happen. Teams had to expose only their five bottom players to the expansion draft.

It saddled the Bucs with worn out players who had proven they had no right to draw a paycheck for their services. There was no free agency. There was just pain. There was just a coach with an idea that executing his offense was a grand idea.

I remember asking Rich McKay, son of John, the first coach, when the Lions went winless in 2008. "They'd kick our butts," McKay said. And they would.

Think of it like this. Neither the '08 Lions or the '17 Browns were shut out a single time. Not once. The Bucs? The Bucs were shut out five times in 14 games. They didn't need to buy lights for the scoreboard.

Rushing? Kevin Smith had 976 yards for the Lions in 2008. Isaiah Crowell has 716 for the Browns. The Bucs were led by Louis Carter with 571.

Close tames? The Browns have lost five times by a touchdown or less. The Lions lost four times by a touchdown or less. The Bucs came within a touchdown just twice.

Points? The Bucs scored only 15 touchdowns in 14 games. The Browns have 23 so far. The Lions finished with 29.

Stars? The Bucs had Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon. It was his rookie year, however, and he started only six games ... at defensive tackle. The Lions had Calvin Johnson. Until losing him to injury, the Browns had tackle Joe Thomas.

Quarterbacks? Well, using the term loosely, you can call them quarterbacks. Rookie DeShone Kizer is 0-12 for the Lions, and Dan Orlovsky was 0-7 for the Lions. But both had ratings higher than Steve Spurrier, who went 0-12 for the Bucs and never played again. Orlovsky had a rating of 72.6. Kizer is at 51.2. Spurrier was at 57.1.

Then there was this. On a weak scale, both the Lions and Browns had strengths. These Browns, for instance, are sixth in the NFL in rushing defense. Those Lions were eighth in plays of 20 yards or more and 16th in sacks.

The Bucs were 23rd of higher (in a 28-team league) in total offense, total defense, scoring, passing offense, passing defense, rushing defense, sacks and opposing quarterback rating. They were dreadful.

Again, it depends on how you look at it. When you consider all the high draft picks on the rosters of the Lions and Browns, it's a catastrophe that they went winless. The Bucs were strangers in a room.

Also, there is this: The Bucs weren't the only expansion team in 1976. The Seattle Seahawks went 2-12. Bad, right?

Consider this: One of the teams they beat was the Bucs.

So put them into a playoff, if you want. Cleveland beats Detroit 3-2 in the first round. Then the Bucs lose 2-0 in the finale.

In the end, the Bucs lift coach John McKay to carry him off the field as the worst team ever.

Sadly, they drop him.

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