|1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season|
|Head Coach||Tony Dungy|
|Home Field||Houlihan's Stadium|
|Place||5th NFC Central|
|Playoff Finish||did not qualify|
|Team MVP||MLB Hardy Nickerson|
|Previous season||Next season|
The 1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season began with the team trying to improve on an 7-9 season. It was the first season for Tony Dungy as the team's head coach who had no previous experience as a head coach. Prior to the season it was announced that the team would remain in Tampa Bay and would have a new stadium for the 1998 season. Also prior to the season the team drafted Mike Alstott, who became one of the most popular players in the teams history, and Donnie Abraham.
The offense struggled all season and was not helped by an ill-advised holdout from running back Errict Rhett, who next year would barely carry the ball with new running backs added.
The 1996 Buccaneers would be remembered as the team that turned it all around for the franchise. While a lot of fans feel it wasn't until the 1997 team with its new pewter based uniforms, most knowledgeable fans credit the changes that took place in 1996 for setting the stage for the Buccaneers rise to power.
It did not happen all at once. Despite being a 7-7 team at one point at the end of 1995, the 1996 team went 0-5 before getting their first win over Tony Dungy's former team the Minnesota Vikings. The 24-13 win over Minnesota started another streak few noted at the time, and some credit as the first sign of the turn-around, which is four games in a row that the Bucs Defense held opponents to 13 points or less. Despite this, game 10 had the Oakland Raiders coming into Tampa facing a Bucs team that is 1-8. A larger number of turn-around theorists mark this game, a 20-17 overtime win as the sign of change for things to come. Others will point out that Raider kicker Ford missed a short 27 yard field goal with regulation about to expire that would have ended the game but instead forced overtime.
Week 11 had the Bucs on the west coast, where they never win. Playing at San Diego, a road game, and vs the AFC, the Bucs spotted the Chargers a 14-0 lead. Instead of folding, the Dungy led Bucs fought back, and won on the road, on the west coast 25-17. They would win two of the next three, and five of the last seven games including an emotional win over the Chicago Bears 34-19 in which the Bucs did everything right, including returning a punt for a touchdown. It was the first time since the end of the 1979 season that Bucs and Bucs fans could not wait for the next year.
Rule changes earlier in the decade brought about a salary cap, and a minimum spending cap forced Bucs to spend more on players. With the new ownership, tax disclosures showed the old Culverhouse regime was running a 'for-profit' business in which players who were getting good were released before their contracts could get big, all the while claiming poor and trying to get some home games played in Orlando, Florida.
Many fans took encouragement from the team winning five of the last seven games and the emergence of Warren Sapp who had nine sacks on the season, Derrick Brooks, and Mike Alstott, who along with John Lynch and Hardy Nickerson were forming the core of one of the best defenses of the decade.
This also marked the final year the Buccaneers wore the orange and white uniforms.
|12||1||Regan Upshaw||Defensive End||California|
|22||1||Marcus Jones||Defensive End||North Carolina|
|71||3||Donnie Abraham||Defensive Back||ETSU|
|96||4||Jason Odom||Offensive Tackle||Florida|
|104||4||Eric Austin||Defensive Back||Jackson State|
|140||5||Jason Maniecki||Defensive Tackle||Wisconsin|
|180||6||Nilo Silvan||Wide Receiver||Tennessee|
|221||7||Reggie Rusk||Defensive Back||Kentucky|
|1996 Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff|
Special Teams Coaches
Strength and Conditioning
|1||September 1, 1996||Green Bay Packers||L 34-3||4:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||54,102*||0-1|
|2||September 8, 1996||at Detroit Lions||L 21-6||1:00||Pontiac Silverdome||Fox||54,229||0-2|
|3||September 15, 1996||at Denver Broncos||L 27-23||8:00||Mile High Stadium||TNT||71,535||0-3|
|4||September 22, 1996||Seattle Seahawks||L 17-13||4:15||Houlihan's Stadium||NBC||30,212*||0-4|
|5||September 29, 1996||Detroit Lions||L 27-0||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||34,961*||0-5|
|7||October 6, 1996||Minnesota Vikings||W 24-13||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||32,175*||1-5|
|8||October 13, 1996||at Arizona Cardinals||L 13-9||4:05||Sun Devil Stadium||Fox||27,738||1-6|
|9||October 28, 1996||at Green Bay Packers||L 13-7||1:00||Lambeau Field||Fox||60,627||1-7|
|10||November 3, 1996||at Chicago Bears||L 13-10||1:00||Soldier Field||Fox||58,727||1-8|
|11||November 10, 1996||Oakland Raiders||W 20-17||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||NBC||45,392*||2-8|
|12||November 17, 1996||at San Diego Chargers||W 25-17||4:00||Jack Murphy Stadium||Fox||57,526||3-8|
|13||November 24, 1996||New Orleans Saints||W 13-7||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||40,203*||4-8|
|14||December 1, 1996||at Carolina Panthers||L 24-0||1:00||Ericsson Stadium||Fox||57,623||4-9|
|15||December 8, 1996||Washington Redskins||W 24-10||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||44,723*||5-9|
|16||December 15, 1996||at Minnesota Vikings||L 21-10||1:00||Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||Fox||49,302||5-10|
|17||December 22, 1996||Chicago Bears||W 34-19||1:00||Houlihan's Stadium||Fox||51,572*||6-10|
- = blacked out locally
|Green Bay Packers||13||3||0||.813||456||210|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||10||0||.375||221||293|