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1988 Buccaneers Season 13 Schedule

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1988 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season 13 Brief

The 1988 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season was the team's first full, non-strike season under head coach Ray Perkins. Perkins had by now rebuilt the Buccaneers as the NFL's youngest team, having replaced so many veterans that leadership became an issue. A strong draft produced several starters, including standout offensive tackle Paul Gruber and eventual 1,000-yard running back Lars Tate. The team was largely competitive and showed an ability to outplay opponents in the second half of games, but continued their tendency toward mental errors, and finished with a disappointing 5–11 record. Second-year quarterback Vinny Testaverde was inconsistent: an effective leader at times, as in their late-season upset of the AFC-leading Buffalo Bills, mistake-prone at others. His 35 interceptions are still (as of 2011) a team record. His frequent costly errors caused the coaching staff to lose confidence in him, and at one point to replace him with backup Joe Ferguson. The team finished the season on a strong note with wins in two of their final three games, including respectable performances against two playoff contenders.


National Football League Players Association figures showed the Buccaneers to have the lowest average salaries in the NFL, despite having one of the league's highest-paid players in Vinny Testaverde. Team assistant Phil Krueger disputed the accuracy of the figures. The team filed suit against former linebacker Hugh Green, saying that he still owed more than half of the signing bonus that he was required to repay as part of his trade to Miami.

Founding coach John McKay was honored with election to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Personnel Moves

The team was especially active in the offseason, with as many as 123 players on the roster over the summer. They had finished the previous season as the league's youngest team, with an average age of 25, and with the release of several veterans were expected to get even younger. The team declined to make qualifying offers to tackle Marvin Powell and punter Frank Garcia, who became free agents with the expiration of their contracts. Powell spoke highly of the team and fondly of his days in Tampa, a sharp contrast with his acrimonious departure from the New York Jets, who were later cleared of charges of unfair labor practices that were filed when the Jets released him a week after he was elected union president. Several free agents were signed during the offseason, including former Hurricanes and Dolphins linebacker Jay Brophy, and former Buccaneer replacement player Harold Ricks.[8] Former starting quarterback Steve DeBerg was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for safety Mark Robinson and a pair of draft choices. The move was considered to be a calculated risk, because the team gained a draft pick and a player at a problem area, while they lost experience from a young team. The departure of DeBerg, combined with the loss of quarterbacks coach Marc Trestman to the Cleveland Browns, left only Perkins, who also served as the team's head coach, general manager, and offensive coordinator, to coach Testaverde. Robinson, who had been unable to break into the Chiefs’ starting lineup behind Deron Cherry and Lloyd Burruss, reunited with Chiefs’ secondary coach Doug Graber, now the defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay.

The team's initial qualifying offers to Scot Brantley, George Yarno, and Bobby Kemp were later withdrawn. Injuries had affected Brantley's play over the last several years. Kemp had started all non-strike games the previous season, but was released due to his lack of speed. Yarno requested the release so that he might have a chance to catch on with another team after being told that his chances of making the team were poor. Several of the previous season's backups were released, including Steve Bartalo, Charles Gladman, Harold Ricks, Conrad Goode, and Mike Stensrud. Ricks and Gladman were replacement players who had been retained by the team when regular play resumed. Kicker Van Tiffin and defensive back Rodney Bellinger were signed as free agents.[15] They were also rumored to be interested in acquiring receiver Wes Chandler from San Diego. Buffalo Bills linebacker Eugene Marve was acquired for a 1989 draft pick. Marve was a longtime Bills starter who was made expendable by the drafting of Shane Conlan. Perkins later referred to the trade as an "absolute steal". The acquisition of Marve allowed the team to release their leading tackler Jeff Davis, whose request for a trade they had been unable to accommodate.

Coaching Changes

The Buccaneers’ 1988 coaching staff was nearly identical to their 1987 staff, with the exception of Perkins taking over the quarterback-coaching duties from the departed Marc Trestman, and the addition of Mike Shula as an offensive assistant. Shula became the NFL's youngest assistant coach, having been a draft pick of the team the previous year. Perkins had close ties to Shula, having coached him in college, and having been coached by his father, Don Shula, as a receiver with the Baltimore Colts. Shula assumed some of the responsibility for coaching Vinny Testaverde, although Shula was 17 months younger than Testaverde and was drafted in the same year.

NFL Draft

A pair of draft-day trades gained the Buccaneers two extra fourth-round picks; Perkins reasoning that after the first dozen or so selections, the talent level is fairly similar between the next 100 players.

Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Aug. 6
Colts Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 1
Lost 7-20
Aug. 13
Browns Cleveland Browns
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 2
Lost 3-23
Aug. 20
Falcons @ Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, GA
PS - wk 3
Lost 14-19
Aug. 25
bills Buffalo Bills
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
PS - wk 4
Lost 7-14

1988 Season Results

Record: 5-11, DIV: 4-4 (3rd in NFC Central)
Date   Opponent Week/Record Outcome
Sep. 4
Eagles Philadelphia Eagles
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 1
Lost 14-41
Sep. 11
Packers @ Green Bay Packers
Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
RS - wk 2
Won 13-10
Sep. 18
Cardinals Phoenix Cardinals
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 3
Lost 24-30
Sep. 25
Saints @ New Orleans Saints
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, LA
RS - wk 4
Lost 9-13
Oct. 2
Packers Green Bay Packers
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 5
Won 27-24
Oct. 9
Vikings @ Minnesota Vikings
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis, MN
RS - wk 6
Lost 13-14
Oct. 16
Colts @ Indianapolis Colts
Hoosier Dome, Indianapolis, IN
RS - wk 7
Lost 31-35
Oct. 23
Vikings Minnesota Vikings
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 8
Lost 20-49
Oct. 30
Dolphins Miami Dolphins
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 9
Lost 14-17
Nov. 6
Bears @ Chicago Bears
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
RS - wk 10
Lost 10-28
Nov. 13
Lions @ Detroit Lions
Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, MI
RS - wk 11
Won 23-20
Nov. 20
Bears Chicago Bears
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 12
Lost 15-27
Nov. 27
Falcons @ Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, GA
RS - wk 13
Lost 10-17
Dec. 4
Bills Buffalo Bills
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 14
Won 10-5
Dec. 11
Patriots @ New England Patriots
Sullivan Stadium, Foxborough, MA
RS - wk 15
Lost 7-10
Dec. 18
Lions Detroit Lions
Tampa Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL
RS - wk 16
Won 21-10
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
2021 2022 2023

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