The 1986 Tampa Bay Buccaneers season began with the team trying to improve on an 2-14 season. This was one of the worst seasons in franchise history. There is some sentiment that the 1986 team was even worse than the winless team of 1976, and the 473 points conceded was not beaten by any NFL team until the 2001 Indianapolis Colts gave up 486. The Buccaneers selected Bo Jackson with the top pick in the draft, but were unable to convince him to join the team. Three weeks after the draft, Jackson signed a three-year baseball contract with the Kansas City Royals. Despite holding four of the first forty selections in the draft, and the presence of a great influx of fresh talent from defunct USFL teams, the Buccaneers were unable to find any impact players in either the draft or free agency. They entered the season with a roster nearly identical to the previous season's 2-14 team.
Coach Leeman Bennett treated the season as a building season, but was disappointed with the team's mental errors and lack of progress. Later in the season, he would begin to privately admit that the Buccaneers' talent was much worse than he had realized. Steve DeBerg won the starting quarterback job after outplaying Steve Young in the preseason, but was benched in favor of Young after struggling in the first two games. Kevin House and Jimmie Giles were released after an October loss to the New Orleans Saints, along with ex-Dallas Cowboys fullback Ron Springs. Bennett showed up at a press conference held after the season by owner Hugh Culverhouse, unaware that the purpose of the press conference was to announce Bennett's firing. Giles, then with the Detroit Lions, criticized the move, saying that no coach could compensate for the Buccaneers' lack of talent. He also claimed that administrator Phil Krueger destroyed team chemistry by demeaning players during contract negotiations, pointing to guard Sean Farrell's disgruntlement as an example.
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