As someone who has followed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since their addition to the NFL in 1976, I have seen some very poor teams hit the field. The 2011 version of the Buccaneers were a unit among some of the worst football the Bay area has ever seen. This year however, with the addition of rookie head coach Greg Schiano, the team has rebounded and actually are playing some of the best football in the league, on offense. Tampa Bay leads the NFL in total yards per play offensively this season, but a record setting performance from Doug Martin and exciting play has not motivate the fanbase in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers host the San Diego Chargers this Sunday and the game has been blacked out in the Tampa market.
Tampa Bay opted into the new league rules which allow a reduced number of ticket sales, 85% of non premium seats to be sold prior to kickoff in order to avoid a blackout. Entering week 10, the Buccaneers have only had one “sellout” this season, two weeks ago against the New Orleans Saints.
Greg Schiano has the Buccaneers playing significantly better than they were under Raheem Morris last season at this point in the regular season. The Tampa players have bought into the hard-nosed, tough approach that Schiano projects. A strong draft class in 2012 doesn’t hurt either. Rookies Mark Barron, Doug Martin and Lavonte David have all excelled on the field this season.
Getting fans to the stadium has become a problem for the Buccaneers. After Sunday, the Buccaneers have just three home games remaining and there is a strong chance that the team might not have another sellout this year. Tampa hosts Atlanta, Philadelphia and St. Louis in the second half of the regular season.
The Philadelphia game has potential to be a sellout, but if their slide continues, fans will not turnout to watch the Eagles. As of right now, nearly 4,000 tickets remain on StubHub for the Philly game. Nearly 7,000 tickets remain for the Rams game, not a traditional big draw in the Tampa Bay market.
The shame is that Tampa is playing some of the best offensive football they’ve played in their career, and Tampa Bay residents during home games are not getting a chance to witness it.