The OPTIMIST: 2-0 Has Varied History For Bucs

September 24th, 2010

Sam Wyche's 2-0 start in '92 was quickly forgotten. THE OPTIMIST takes a look at past 2-0 starts for Tampa Bay.

You’ve all read THE PESSIMIST, who spews his Bucs-related anger like no other. But Joe also wants you to know THE OPTIMIST

THE OPTIMIST is Nick Houllis, a Bucs fan and an accomplished writer whose steadfast allegiance to the team goes back to the 1970s. Houllis is the founder, creator and guru of, a place Joe goes to get lost in time via Houllis’ stunning video collection.

THE OPTIMIST will shine that positive light in your eyes. Some will love it. Some won’t.

Good new, readers. You won’t need to sit down for this one, because by now you’ve heard it all over the radio and seen it all over the internet; the Bucs are 2-0.

So before you change the proverbial channel, just let me tell you no “I told you so” speech is coming from me; not for several more weeks at least! Why is that?

Because these Buccaneers we cheer for have been 2-0 a few times before, and it didn’t end up in the Super Bowl, nor did it end up being 2-14 either; just about everything in between, though.

On the positive side, it did end up in an NFC Championship game appearance once, but that was 31 years ago. The 1979 Bucs team was the first to go 2-0, and they extended that to 5-0, something only one other Bucs team has ever managed to match.  Those ’79 Bucs made it as high as 9-3 before a three game losing streak almost led to the nickname “The Chokeneers” by then Tampa Tribune columnist Tom McEwen. That team lost to the Rams of Los Angeles 9-0, which leads us to our next Bucs 2-0 team: 1980.

Before you write this off as ancient history, hear me out, because this is the part of the story I hope the Bucs can avoid. The ’80 Bucs beat Cincinnati on the road with a Doug Williams-to-Jimmy Giles touchdown in the last two minutes. Then they came home on Monday Night Football’s special Thursday edition and beat the Rams on a TD that also occurred in the last two minutes of the game.

Both times the Bucs needed a last minute score to win, but no one cared, they were 2-0. Well guess what, they finished 5-10-1! And mind you, this was a very good Bucs team, that to this day no one knows why they finished so poorly. Did they let the ’79 season get to their heads?

Every one of those players was gone and forgotten by the time the next Bucs team went 2-0, Sam Wyche’s first Bucs squad of 1992. That team was led by six-year veteran QB Vinny Testeverde who wore his Orange pants while surprisingly yet efficiently passing the Bucs to a 23-7 win over the Cardinals at Tampa Stadium. Week 2 came around and the Bucs totally toasted the Green Bay Packers 31-3, with Vinny going a career best 22-of-25 for 363 yards and two TDs!

Now repeat after me- A 2-0 Bucs team with a combined scoring difference of 54 to 10, and a Vinny Testeverde with ZERO interceptions in two games! Finally, Vinny had arrived, as had the Bucs, and all we needed was a good coach like Sam Wyche!


Because this was the same Sam Wyche that won only eight more games over the next two years, and finished with a 5-11 record.

What happened? A 3-1 Bucs team lost at home to an Indianapolis Colts team that was considered very weak righht before the bye week. The loss festered during the bye week because of obvious poor coaching and, when the team returned to action, it was beaten 31-14 by Chicago and 38-7 by the Lions. No one remembered the 2-0 start after that, and we would have to wait five more years and a whole generation of players later for another chance.

1997 featured the birth of Pewter Power, and an opening day win over San Francisco followed by a road division win against Detroit set the Bucs up at a similar 2-0. Like that magical ’79 season, the Bucs got as far as 5-0 before suffering their first loss. This was a young team of hungry players that had great coaching and even better management. Players like Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and John Lynch came into their own and forged a relationship with the Bay Area fans that lasts to this day. A Wild Card playoff game win leading up to a divisional playoff loss to Green Bay was the reward for a 10-6 season.

After the 11-6 loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship game in 1999, the Bucs added offensive firepower, the likes of Randal McDaniel, Jeff Christie and, of course Keyshawn Johnson. They not only started out 2-0, but 3-0 in brilliant fashion blowing out the opposition at times. But a Week 4 loss to the NY Jets at the last minute led to a four-game losing streak, and a Week 16 loss prevented the Bucs from claiming the division and a first round bye, settling for a Wild Card instead; at Philadelphia.

We all know what happened to Tony Dungy, and how Jon Gruden led the team to it’s Super Bowl. That 2002 year started out saw the Bucs lose their opener. In fact, every Jon Gruden team here with the Bucs featured a home opening day loss. But 2005 did start out 2-0, the last time it’s happened around here. That record stretched to 4-0, and an 11-5 record, the second best ever.

Amazing as it may seem, only five times have the Bucs been in this 2-0 chair. They made it to the playoffs three of those five 5 times.

So celebrate if you want, or be pessimistic and hold your breath for a while; But act like you’ve been there before, because we have. We just don’t know which ending the Bucs are going to take us to.

Wherever it is, we’ll add it to the list for the next time 2-0 comes up; as it doesn’t happen anywhere often enough for this Bucs fan!

9 Responses to “The OPTIMIST: 2-0 Has Varied History For Bucs”

  1. Gary Says:

    I never understood how people compare current teams with their history in similar situations going back many years. When a game can be won or lost with a bounce of the ball how can you look back years and say “based on history this should happen”? Its crazy. Each year teams are totally different with new players/coaches/philosophies/etc.

    I understand its nice for ESPN to come up with stats to promote dicussion but its really pointless.

  2. AriToldMeTo Says:

    Great read Nick.

    Keep up the good work. I like reads filled with facts.

    Nice job!

  3. Capt.Tim Says:

    Good stuff

  4. eric Says:

    As i recall 2 dash 0 turned into 5 dash 2 but ultimately 7-9. Not a very good finish.

    But, one heck of a draft!

  5. Javier n Wimauma Says:

    As i recall 2 dash 0 turned into 5 dash 2 but ultimately 7-9.”

    And it got him fired.

    It’s a good thing Dung was able to succeeed off of Wyche’s drafts.

    Dungy’s were horrible.

  6. RustyRhino Says:

    Another great post Nick Houllis (aka) the Optimist. I remember all of those games! We did have a great team in 1980 I still wonder what happened. And Vinny’s Great first two games of 92 he looked like he finally go it.
    I am glad we are 2-0 but to me we could be 0-2 and I will still support my team, because as Buccaneer fans we have seen a lot.

    Bring those Steelers on lets go out and punch them in the mouth all damn day long!!
    Go Bucs!!

  7. McBuc Says:

    OK Javier, now I know you spew stuff just to get a reaction, so this shall be my last reaction. Anyone who says Dungy was a bad coach just does not know sports…not just football but sports, or maybe even life. The man had 2 losing seasons his entire carreer. You are a waste of space and time.

  8. Niko (the optimist) Says:

    Gary, it’s simple, the entire game of football is about the past. We discuss the last play, last game, last season, and great years that have gone by.
    Football rarely if ever is lived “in the moment”

    As for whether it can predict anything? No, nor do I insinuate that. It’s just about what we’ve been through, that’s all.

  9. D Says:

    This doesnt sound very optimistic.