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.
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