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Can the Buccaneers' X-factor get them back to relevance?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to compete for a championship every year. Yes, even this year. They've said as much, and both Jason Licht and Lovie Smith made it clear that they think they have a good shot at making it into the playoffs -- and who knows what happens then?

For that to happen, the Bucs need stellar play from their x-factor. Danny Kelly chose X-factor players for every NFL team, the player that can turn a floundering team into a successful one. And for the Bucs, he chose Jameis Winston -- obviously. Here's how Kelly explained his choice.


Yes, that's the full explanation. And it's an exceedingly obvious one. Despite the often repeated wisdom that defense wins championships, that hasn't been true since the Bucs last won a Super Bowl 12 years ago. To win a championship, you need both a good offense and a good defense. And any good offense starts with a quarterback. You simply can't get around that.

The problem the Bucs face is that rookie quarterbacks tend not to be very good -- especially those coming from pro-style offenses, oddly enough. Over the past ten seasons, teams whose rookie quarterbacks had at least 200 pass attempts have managed to put up just seven winning seasons in 30 tries. And those seven winning seasons include a year with Kyle Orton starting 15 games for Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears.

Of course, judging quarterbacks by their wins is a largely futile endeavor, especially over small sample sizes. This is a team game, after all, and a quarterback can only do so much. But we can look at any other statistic and see that by and large, rookie quarterbacks are not saviors. Only four players threw more than 20 touchdowns, and two of them had 17 and 18 interceptions. Only four players managed more than 7.5 yards per attempt.

All of that to say one simple thing: Jameis Winston is a terrific quarterback prospect and certainly the Bucs' x-factor. But the odds are heavily stacked against him leading the Bucs to a winning season, let alone a postseason victory or more.