The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have steadily been building on a team that can be successful for the long term. A team with a franchise quarterback, a solid defensive core, and a steady addition of talent in the draft.
That’s the way to have long-term success, with some occasional additions of select free agents. It’s hard to build a team like that, though, and you get into trouble whenever one of your long-term draft picks doesn’t work out, or some core players ends his career as a core player for whatever reason.
The Bucs aren’t quite nearing those points, but they’re still in win-now mode. SB Nation’s Adam Stites would disagree, having failed to list them among the win-now crowd, but it’s still true. The Bucs have young talent, but some of their best players don’t have that many years left.
Brent Grimes is 33, Robert Ayers is 31, Gerald McCoy is 29 and Doug Martin is 28. And none of those players have clear replacements available. Which means that if they either decline heavily, suffer some crucial injuries, or simply retire, the Bucs will be in trouble.
That’s one reason why the Bucs are in win-now mode. The other is more prosaic: they went 9-7 last season, and a disappointing year would threaten Dirk Koetter’s and possibly even Jason Licht’s job security. That may or may not be right, but it is reality: the Glazers haven’t shown a lot of patience for coaches who don’t win, which means that any coach has to be worried about what happens if they don’t.
So: the Bucs are in win-now mode. This is not a bad thing. They’re not mortgaging their future for the now, nor are they making panicked decisions. It’s just that they expect and need to have a good season now. Which is good news for Bucs fans: who doesn’t like wins? Isn’t that why they play the game?