The Buccaneers finished the 2016 on an upswing and hopes were high for 2017, which is part of the reason why the team was picked to be the featured attraction on this year’s edition of Hard Knocks.
That summer optimism proved to be the high point of the year in Tampa. The Buccaneers are 4-7 and limping toward the finish line on a 10th straight season out of the playoffs. While some might want to point to heightened expectations created by the show as being too much for the team to handle, no one with the team appears to think a hangover from their celebrity moment contributed to their struggles.
Tight end Cameron Brate said “it definitely wasn’t a distraction” and coach Dirk Koetter said the team’s expectations were set before anyone started rolling.
“I don’t believe [the show] had anything to do with it,” Koetter said, via ESPN.com. “They do a nice job with the TV show part of it, but that shouldn’t have any effect on how we play on the field. We have high expectations for ourselves. We haven’t been able to live up to those. Trust me, no one feels worse about that than we do. When I say ‘we,’ I am starting with myself.”
Teams appearing on the show have had mixed results on the field. The Falcons and Rams crashed in 2014 and 2016, respectively, but the Texans won their division in 2015 and the Bengals did the same in 2013.
The Buccaneers have seen quarterback Jameis Winston get hurt, their kicking game cost them at least one game and their defense take a major step back from last year. Blaming any of that or anything else that’s contributed to their downward swing on a TV show seems like a stretch.