Take out two decent years by Rex Grossman and Jay Cutler, and you realize Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith has never truly developed a QB.
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If Tampa Bay loses to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday they will clinch the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft – which will likely lead them to pick Oregon QB and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota. But here’s the $50 million question: if the Buccaneers don’t have a coaching staff that can develop him into a franchise QB, what good will it really do?
Tampa Bay has been a graveyard for under-developed QBs that either start strong and flop eventually or take their talents somewhere else when they find that nothing’s being built around them. QB Josh Freeman, who had two great seasons and two seasons where he was among the NFL’s worst, was a first-round draft pick in 2009 that the team jettisoned in 2013 because he was losing 60% of his games. Having a franchise-caliber QB is one thing, but he has to be developed in order to be of any use to the team – otherwise you get stuck with a situation like the New York Jets, Washington and St. Louis Rams have had for years: Big investments that don’t pay off because the QBs don’t develop for one reason or another.
Do QBs like Marcus Mariota a favor and don’t make him the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when the team clearly isn’t ready to start building around one.
Here are the five worst teams in the NFL heading into Week 17:
5. Chicago Bears – If the Bears are really as eager to unload Jay Cutler’s contract onto another team, they probably would’ve been better served to shut him down for the season instead of putting him in for Week 17 and either: A) Risking an injury to him that hurts his value, or B) Risking a bad game by him that sticks in the minds of the newly-hired GMs and executives.
4. New York Jets – The first thing QB Geno Smith has said all season that didn’t represent a nearly-complete break from reality is that the team could be better with a change at head coach. Rex Ryan will be missed, but his time has come – in no small part because of Smith’s terrible QB play, but that’s why GM John Idzik may get his turn on the chopping block come Black Monday.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars are a special kind of terrible: Unless they’re poised to break some kind of record for futility: Fewest points scored, most points or yards allowed, or an epic losing streak, nobody really notices that they’ve quietly been just as awful in the draft as they are on the field – and that’s why they find themselves continuously drafting in the Top 10.
2. Tennessee Titans – You have to wonder if the Titans would have simply let the Tampa Bay Buccaneers run up and down the field while standing still considering that they’ve lost two straight games to teams that are a combined 4-23 against the rest of the league. They must want that No. 1 overall draft pick badly…
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Head coach Lovie Smith doesn’t deserve to be fired because the Buccaneers are the worst team in the league in just his first year. He deserves to be fired because they’re the worst team in just his first year despite having half-a-dozen Pro Bowl caliber players that don’t know how to win a game.