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The Buccaneers need wins, not just the prospect of progress

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Over at Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner, Frank Schwab is previewing every team in the NFL. Today, he wrote about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the resulting exhaustive article is very much worth reading.

Schwab has a lot of good things to say about Winston, and his work ethic. It seems like Winston’s work ethic still surprises people (not necessarily Schwab), even though that really hasn’t ever been in question with Winston. The work ethic (and talent) convinces Schwab that Winston will be a superstar, which is exactly what most Bucs fans think will happen. The question is whether that will happen this year, or if it’ll take a little longer.

Winston’s future play doesn’t convince Schwab that the Bucs will be in the playoffs this year, but he thinks that’s okay. It is, once again, about progress.

I like the Buccaneers to take a step forward. I don’t think that step will be big enough to get them in the playoffs, especially considering the schedule is a lot tougher than last season. It’s OK if the Buccaneers don’t find themselves in the playoffs this season. As long as Winston continues to improve (he will) and there are signs of progress elsewhere, the Buccaneers can feel good about their direction and continue to build around their young quarterback.

I’d agree with that, to an extent. The Bucs have been about progress for years, though, and they didn’t fire Lovie Smith in the name of progress. They fired him because he wasn’t winning enough games. It’s always that simple: talk of progress and process and future is all alright, but it means nothing if you don’t win games.

Whether the Bucs actually make the playoffs may be somewhat immaterial, as they seem unlikely to do well once they make it there. But we’ll certainly have to see some improvement in the “wins” column, to call this season a success. Whether that’s eight, nine, ten or more wins remains to be seen. But just a generic feeling of progress can’t really be enough anymore.