Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011 record: 4-12)
What went wrong?:
It’s like a fill-in-the-blanks movie script in which the protagonist experiences a horrific downward spiral, and isn’t quite sure how he hit rock bottom. The Buccaneers in 2010 came within striking distance of the playoffs, going 10-6 and needing other teams to lose on the last day of the regular season. Unfortunately for them, Green Bay claimed the last available wild card spot, and went on to make the most of it.
But Tampa had a lot to be happy about. They were coming of a 3-13 year in 2009, and Josh Freeman proved to be a franchise quarterback in 2010 (25 TD, 6 INT, 3,451 yards, 95.9 rating). LeGarrette Blount was a breakthrough star at running back, putting up 1000 yards and 6 touchdown rushes after going undrafted. The defense allowed less than twenty points a game, and put up three pick-sixes (including one from Aqib Talib, who had six total interceptions for the year).
In fact, things started out fine in 201...