TAMPA — History certainly says the Bucs have long odds to turn things around from a 2-5 start, but DT Chris Baker has come pretty close to pulling it off.
Baker's first full season in the NFL was in 2012 with Washington, which opened 3-6 but rallied to win its last seven, win the NFC East and host a playoff game.
"It can turn fast," Baker said. "I was just talking about it in our D-line room. A couple of years ago, RG3's (Robert Griffin III) rookie year, I was with the Redskins and we rolled off (seven) games in a row and made it to the playoffs. We've only played one division game, and we still have a lot at stake. We've got to take it one week at a time and keep getting better. We have so much season left."
How far back do you have to go to find a 2-5 team that made the playoffs? Just two years — in 2015, when the Texans and Chiefs actually met in the playoffs. Houston finished 7-2 and won the AFC South at 9-7, losing in the first round to the Chiefs, who opened 1-5 and won 10 straight to finish 11-5, eventually losing to the Patriots in the second round.
But of 42 teams that were 2-5 over the past 10 seasons, only one other team made the playoffs: the 2011 Broncos, led by Tim Tebow, who went from 2-5 to 8-8 and won the AFC West, as well as a playoff game against Pittsburgh.
The 2010 Chargers went from 2-5 to 9-7 but missed the playoffs, and two other teams salvaged 8-8 records out of 2-5 starts. But the average final win total for teams that were 2-5 in the past decade is just 5.4.
Former Bucs starting defensive end dies at 30
Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, who started 26 games for the Bucs at defensive end in 2012-13, died Monday at age 30, Hawaii TV station KITV reported.
No details were immediately available about his death. After four years in the NFL, Mr. Te'o-Nesheim was coaching at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea.
Mr. Te'o-Nesheim, born in American Samoa, was a third-round pick of the Eagles in 2010 but found his best success with the Bucs. He had four sacks and 40 tackles in 2012, starting 14 games for Tampa Bay, and started another 12 games in 2013. Before playing in the NFL, he left the University of Washington as the school's career sacks leader with 30.
"We are saddened by the news of former Buc Daniel Te'o Nesheim's passing," the Bucs' official Twitter account posted Monday afternoon. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family."
Head coach Dirk Koetter (right) said CB Brent Grimes, who missed Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, is "improving," but he remains unsure whether he can return this week. DB Josh Robinson, who has missed three games, and CB Robert McClain, who was sidelined Sunday, both remain in concussion protocol. … Rookie LB Kendell Beckwith was slowed by an injury to his surgically repaired knee during Sunday's game but was able to return to the game. Koetter said the team did an MRI exam on his knee and "it looks like he is going to be okay."
Contact Greg Auman at firstname.lastname@example.org and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.