11-Win Year Adds To UrgencyDecember 24th, 2013
Barring stunning surprises, such as the Bucs upsetting the Saints on Sunday, both NFC Wild Card berths this season will go to teams with at least 11 wins.
The NFC South winner also will have at least 11 in the “W” column.
So where does that leave the Bucs? Just how far away are they? When Joe puts on his think-like-a-Glazer hat, Joe believes those are critical questions facing ownership.
Team Glazer is trying to win a Super Bowl and excite fans. The NFL is a business driven by hope and belief. If your fans are believers, then they’ll spend money, and advertisers and corporate sponsors happily will cut checks. Everybody has a happy offseason when a franchise is floating in a sea of hope.
But it’s much harder to be a believer when you’re staring at division foes with Cam Newton, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan — and you’ve got Mike Glennon and a fading-fast offensive line in a quarterback-driven league. The Bucs also have rival head coaches with stunning winning percentages, like Sean Payton and Mike Smith, and Ron Rivera very well could win NFL Coach of the Year.
Nearly every NFL owner is trying to figure out just how far his team is from glory. The Bucs have plenty of talent at a lot of positions, so they shouldn’t be so far away. But that’s more fantasy than reality. The Bucs have serious offseason work to do in order to compete in their division and in their conference.
Joe wrote about 200 times this offseason that the NFC was absolutely loaded, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the 1980s. And that played out. Yes, good teams were ravaged by injuries and disappointed their fans. But at the end of the day, 11 wins will be needed to make the playoffs. In fact, an 11-win team could be sent home. If the Saints (10-5) win, and the Cardinals (10-5) beat the 49ers, Arizona will head home crying.
Regardless of what call Team Glazer makes on Greg Schiano, the owners must find a way to inject hope into the fan base. If Schiano stays, that means blowing a pile of cash in free agency, making a bold trade, and landing top skill position players in the draft.
Major change is coming. The Bucs are simply too far away to avoid it.