By Eric Schmidt

After the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to part ways with head coach John McKay, Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner, Hugh Culverhouse decided to replace McKay with former Atlanta Falcons head coach Leeman Bennett in 1985. Culverhouse’s decision to do so, put the Buccaneers at the bottom of the NFL for nearly a decade with Bennett starting out in his first season posting a 2-14 record, how does that 1985 Tampa Bay Buccaneers team compare with what head coach Raheem Morris and the Glazer ownership are fielding today?

There are still two games remaining on the Buccaneers schedule, but does anyone seriously thing the Buccaneers have any chance of winning either of those games? The 1985 version of the Buccaneers went 2-14 and the current roster has every expectation of heading towards a 4-12 season. So which team was better?

The 1985 team started the season with veteran journeyman Steve DeBerg at quarterback, but they acquired QB Steve Young after the defunct USFL disbanded. The two quarterbacks combined over the course of the season to throw for 3,423 yards, 26 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. Third-year QB Josh Freeman has thrown for 3,044 yards 13 scores and 18 picks with two games remaining.

In 1985, the Buccaneers had a bruising running back, as they do today, but his name was James Wilder. In 1985, Wilder wrung up 1,641 yards of total offense, scoring 10 touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount reached the 1,000 yard threshold last year, but will fall short this season, rushing for just 758 yards and five scores. Wilder was a dual threat running back, leading the Buccaneers in receiving during the 1985 season with 53 receptions. Blount has 12 on the year.

The top four receivers of the Buccaneers 2011 season don’t compare with those of 1985. Second-year WR Mike Williams looked to be one of the steals of the 2010 NFL draft last year, but he has just 701 yards receiving, three touchdowns and was held without a catch Saturday night against a poor Dallas Cowboys secondary. In 1985, the Buccaneers leading receiver was WR Kevin House, a receiver which had blazing speed, averaging 18.3 yards per reception in 1985, totaling 803 yards and five scores.

Second on the Buccaneers ’85 roster was TE Jimmie Giles with 673 receiving yards and eight touchdowns, followed by WR Gerald Carter (40-557-3) and  HB Jerry Bell (43-496-2). This receiving corps produced 18 touchdowns, the current roster of Buccaneers leading receiver have scored just 10 times. TE Kellen Winslow (62-644-2), WR Preston Parker (35-464-3) and WR Arrelious Benn (29-437-2).

The 1985 Buccaneers started the season with nine consecutive losses. During the course of the regular 16-game season, the Buccaneers surrendered 448 points to opposing teams. With two games remaining, the 2011 version has already yielded 401 points and in recent weeks, teams are scoring in bunches on the Buccaneers defense, the 448 number could be eclipsed by season’s end.

In ’85, the Buccaneers lost seven games by 8 points of less, in 2011, they lost just five, even managing a shutout against the Rams in Week 10 of the season. And despite surrendering 62 points to the New York Jets during the regular season the former roster recorded much more impressive statistics. Despite the current coaching staff’s decision to invest the first two picks of the last two drafts on the defensive line, the 1985 version of the Buccaneers recorded 33 sacks, versus this year’s paltry 22.

At the conclusion of the failed 1985 campaign, five Buccaneers players had 80 or more total tackles, five of them linebackers. LB Jeff Davis recorded 132, LB Chris Washington had 102, S Ivory Sully recorded 98, LB Scot Brantley 95 and DT David Logan logged 80. At the current rate perhaps on player will record over 100 tackles for the Buccaneers this season, S Sean Jones who is currently at 86 total tackles.

Despite recording a 2-14 campaign in 1985, the Buccaneers were able to send one player to the NFL Pro Bowl, TE Jimmie Giles. There is no Buccaneers player currently which is even in the top-10 of player voting for this season’s Pro Bowl with voting ending this evening.

I’ve watched both of these teams and frankly, with James Wilder in the backfield, I’ll make the 2-14 Buccaneers from 1985 a six point favorite over the current squad. The current Buccaneers roster is in turmoil and changes must be made at the conclusion of this season. Bennett was eventually fired after posting back-to-back 2-14 seasons and Raheem Morris should follow him in the history books as being fired after his third season.

 

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