No team ever wants to admit they are rebuilding, and no team's fans want to hear it either. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, there has not been a true rebuilding plan since the team won the super bowl in 2003. Through Gruden, Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, and now Lovie Smith, the Bucs refuse to say they are rebuilding, but it may be time to admit that you are and do it the right way.
The closest the Bucs got to admitting they were in rebuilding mode was in Raheem Morris' first year when the Bucs purged older veterans like Warrick Dunn and Derrick Brooks, along with the drafting of Josh Freeman. Even then, while the Bucs decided to go younger, it didn't feel like there was a master plan to rebuilding the Bucs. Instead, it seemed like Mark Dominik and Raheem Morris were going to just draft young players until the Glazers gave them the go-ahead to spend in free agency. At that point, they went crazy for the highest priced free agents each year.
After the debacle of Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith was brought in to bring a sense of calmness to a franchise engulfed in chaos. Lovie and new GM Jason Licht refused to admit the Bucs were in a rebuilding mode and insisted they planned on winning in 2014.
"This wasn't a rebuild, this was a little bit of a re-tool," Jason Licht said in August on Sirius XM NFL Radio. "When you have players like Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David and Mark Barron and Vincent Jackson and the list goes on and on, you can't call it a rebuild. We just had a little re-tooling to do and shape it up a little bit, and kind of get some depth and get some other players, some of the middle-market-type players to do the dirty work and that's what we're still doing."
The team is 1-8, the players are finding creative ways to lose each game, and the fans might be gone for quite some time. From this fan, I beg to admit that you are rebuilding and that there is a plan in place to bring a winner back to Tampa Bay. That might be the only hope Bucs fans could possibly ask for right now because they...we feel the people making personnel decisions are not that bright when the Bucs biggest free agent signings (Collins, Johnson, Verner) were all out for Sunday's game.
When your product is as putrid as the Bucs have been this season, it's delusional to believe a quick turnaround can happen in 2015. This season has proven to everybody that has watched a moment of this boring Buc ball can attest to the amount of needs this franchise has. However, despite the amount of needs the Bucs have at other positions, if they don't fix their quarterback situation, it won't matter who is around the quarterback because McCown and Glennon can not win consistently as NFL starting quarterbacks.
As is with any rebuilding franchise, it starts at quarterback. The Bucs do not have a franchise quarterback. If they are in position to draft one with a top 5 pick in April, they must take advantage of it. I don't care if it's Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, just make sure you have a guy to properly rebuild around.
"A lot of other positions that I'm really concerned about," Lovie Smith said after Sunday's loss to the Falcons. "Quarterback, especially after today, not at the top of the list."
Remember those other needs the Bucs have? Well, while I think the Bucs first round pick in April should go to drafting a quarterback, the Bucs still have picks in other rounds of the draft and could end up with plenty of cap space after certain large contracts like Dashon Goldson's ($9m per season) or Vincent Jackson's ($10m per season) are either reworked or terminated. Signing the right free agents and drafting well AFTER taking a QB in the first round next April is how you properly start to rebuild both on the field and in the stands.
I think I speak for most fans when I say that I just want to believe that the decision makers for the Bucs are the right ones to make the crucial decisions that lie ahead. Unfortunately, we aren't that confident right now, and that might be the biggest problem with the future of the Bucs.
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