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1987 Buccaneers Season 12 Schedule

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1987 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season 12 Brief

The 1987 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was a year of great change for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' organization in the National Football League. The season began with the hiring of former New York Giants and University of Alabama head coach Ray Perkins. Perkins had only needed three seasons to build the Giants into a playoff team, and it was hoped that he would be able to repeat the feat with the Buccaneers.

The Buccaneers possessed the first overall pick in the NFL Draft, and used it to select University of Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde. The Buccaneers appeared changed and won four games early in the season, but they notably lost large leads in later games and fell from playoff contention after midseason. The season was marked by a 1987 players' strike in which regular play was interrupted for a month, while the NFL owners fielded teams of replacement players.


Perkins brought discipline to a team that had been described as "the country club of the NFL", and rebuilt the team with youth. Perkins claimed that the Buccaneers were more talented than the New York Giants team he had taken over in 1979, and selected a then-record 20 players in the 1987 NFL Draft. He improved their conditioning program, and instituted three-a-day practices.

Perkins' harsh style was in stark contrast to the laid-back approach of his predecessor Bennett, of whom it was said that his "idea of team discipline was everyone wearing the same color uniform on game day". Conditioning improvements included emphasizing free weights over Nautilus machines, to improve explosiveness. Players were also given pay incentives to work out, although Perkins expressed surprise that players should need extra incentive to improve their conditioning. The improved conditioning paid off early in the season: their opening-week 48–10 win over the Atlanta Falcons still (as of 2012) ranks as the most Buccaneer points scored in a game, matched only in Super Bowl XXXVII. The team had a 1–1 record when the season was disrupted by the 1987 players' strike. Unlike in previous seasons, when players' strikes stopped all play, the owners formed teams of replacement players to play the scheduled games. The Buccaneers had a 3–2 record when regular play resumed, and nearly beat a Chicago Bears team only one season removed from its Super Bowl victory. The game had been preceded by much media speculation over whether Bears star quarterback Jim McMahon would play. It was the first week since undergoing surgery after being dropped on his shoulder following a play the previous November that McMahon was in the Bears' lineup, although Mike Tomczak remained the starter for the game. The Buccaneers took a 20–0 lead and dominated the game for three quarters. Late in the third quarter, McMahon came off the bench and sparked the Bears to a 27–26 win, their biggest comeback in team history. Two weeks later, Tampa Bay had a 28–3 fourth quarter lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. In what is now the third-biggest comeback in NFL history, the Cardinals scored 4 touchdowns to win the game. The Buccaneers did not win again for the rest of the season.

It was rare for an NFL team to fall into a season-long losing streak following such a defensive collapse. Once the Buccaneers were out of the playoff picture, Perkins began to prepare Testaverde for the next season. Testaverde's first start came on December 6 against the New Orleans Saints. His 369 yards on 22 completions set a record for an NFL debut, but his two early fumbles set up a Saints lead that the Buccaneers were not able to overcome. Tackle Ron Heller, dispirited by Coach Perkins' confrontational attitude and three-a-day practices that he believed were causing unnecessary injuries to the players, got into a fight with Perkins at halftime of this game that led to his being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. In return, the Buccaneers received defensive lineman Randy Edwards and a 1989 6th-round draft pick that was used to select linebacker Derrick Little. Neither made the Buccaneers' squad. Heller went on to play seven more solid seasons.[8] The Buccaneers finished the season with a 4–11 record. Their 3–4 division record placed them ahead of the 4–11 Detroit Lions for fourth place in the NFC Central. Ron Holmes had eight quarterback sacks despite appearing in only ten games. Ervin Randle, who was named a UPI Second Team All-NFC linebacker, was the only Buccaneer to be singled out for postseason honors.


The Hiring of Ray Perkins

Ray Perkins replaced Leeman Bennett as the third head coach in Buccaneers history. Expectations had been that owner Hugh Culverhouse would hire popular ex-Tampa Bay Bandits coach Steve Spurrier, but Perkins was the only candidate interviewed. Perkins had been approached about the job two years earlier, but was not interested at the time. He was given the same title (Head Coach and Vice-President of Football Operations) as the previous two coaches. He brought along seven of his Alabama assistants: linebackers coach Sylvester Croom, assistant coach John Bobo, running backs coach Rodney Stokes, defensive line coach Mike DuBose, strength coach Kent Johnston, head trainer Chris Smith, and defensive coordinator Joe Kines, who had previously been Charley Pell's defensive coordinator with the Florida Gators. He rounded out his staff with Kansas City Chiefs secondary coach Doug Graber and receivers coach Richard Williamson, Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Herb Paterra, SMU defensive coordinator Bill Clay, and Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Larry Beightol. Perkins also overhauled the scouting staff, firing most of them (including Jim Gruden, father of future Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden) shortly after the draft. No reason was given, but some observers, most outspokenly Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough, felt that the Buccaneers' office was staffed heavily with people whose main experience was in college football, and that the team suffered from a lack of NFL knowledge.

Recently fired Falcons coach Dan Henning turned down the offensive coordinator position, as he had been trying to rebuild the Falcons and did not want to relive that experience with another team. Perkins had previously been hired as head coach of the New York Giants on the basis of his experience working with a losing franchise (the New England Patriots) that needed turning around. Perkins coached the Giants back to the playoffs, leaving four years later to succeed coaching legend Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. Ironically, irritation over the 1982 players' strike was a major factor in Perkins' leaving the Giants, and became an issue he had to contend with again in 1987. Frustration with what he saw as overregulation by the NCAA played a part in Perkins' decision to return to the NFL. Along with $750,000 a year for five years, Perkins was given free rein to run the Buccaneers however he wanted. Some players were enthusiastic about the Perkins hire. "Coach Perkins will bring in a sense of pride here, and that's something we've been missing", said tackle Ron Heller. Others were upset with Perkins' military-style manner, saying that he "made playing football a miserable experience".

Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Aug. 15
Colts Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 1
Lost 30-31
Aug. 22
Browns New York Jets
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 2
Won 29-27
Aug. 29
Falcons Washington Redskins
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 3
Won 17-10
Sep. 5
bills @ Indianapolis Colts
Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, IN
PS - wk 4
Lost 16-23

1987 Season Results

Record: 4-11, DIV: 3-4 (4th in NFC Central)
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Sep. 13
Falcons Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 1
Won 48-10
Sep. 20
Bears @ Chicago Bears
Lambeau Field, Chicago, IL
RS - wk 2
Lost 3-20
Oct. 4
Lions @ Detroit Lions
Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, MI
RS - wk 3
Won 31-27
Oct. 11
Chargers San Diego Chargers
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 4
Lost 13-17
Oct. 18
Vikings Minnesota Vikings
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 5
Won 20-10
Oct. 25
Bears Chicago Bears
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 6
Lost 26-27
Nov. 1
Packers @ Green Bay Packers
Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee, WI
RS - wk 7
Won 23-17
Nov. 8
Cardinals @ St. Louis Cardinals
Busch Memorial Stadium, St. Louis, MO
RS - wk 8
Lost 28-31
Nov. 15
Vikings @ Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
RS - wk 9
Lost 17-23
Nov. 22
49ers San Francisco 49ers
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 10
Lost 10-24
Nov. 29
Rams @ Los Angeles Rams
Anaheim Stadium, Anaheim, CA
RS - wk 11
Lost 3-35
Dec. 6
Saints @ New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
RS - wk 12
Lost 34-44
Dec. 13
Lions Detroit Lions
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 13
Lost 10-20
Dec. 20
Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 14
Lost 14-31
Dec. 27
Colts @ Indianapolis Colts
Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, IN
RS - wk 15
Lost 6-24
Date   Opponent NFC/Superbowl Outcome
Buccaneers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL

ALL Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Links
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990
1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
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