A quick fix could be in store for the Bucs under coach Lovie Smith.
"I think they have a chance to be like Kansas City was this year and blossom. And everybody will say, 'Where did this come from?' " former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy said.
Kansas City went from 2-14 to 11-5 this season after hiring coach Andy Reid and trading for QB Alex Smith.
Dungy says the pieces are in place for Smith's Tampa 2 defense much like they were when Dungy arrived in Tampa Bay in 1996. The difference is Smith's players are established at the right positions.
When Dungy took over, DT Warren Sapp was coming off the field on third down instead of rushing the passer. Derrick Brooks was playing over the tight end at strongside linebacker until he was switched to the weakside. And John Lynch was playing more of a slot linebacker than strong safety.
"They've got (Dashon) Goldson and (Mark) Barron and (Lavonte) David and (Gerald) McCoy," Dungy said. "That's very similar to what we had. They've got experienced corners and guys who can run. I think the sky is the limit for what they can do, and I know how they're going to be coached."
Of course, the difference between what Reid did in Kansas City and what Smith is attempting to do in Tampa Bay is the quarterback.
Alex Smith was a No. 1 overall pick who took the 49ers to the NFC title game in 2011 before losing his job to Colin Kaepernick the next season.
The Bucs have Mike Glennon, who went 4-9 as a rookie. He will be developed by new offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford. But there doesn't appear to be a Smith-like talent available via free agency or trade.
The best fit for the Bucs might be Josh McCown, who played admirably for the Bears this season while Jay Cutler was injured. After that, the options basically come down to signing Michael Vick or attempting to trade for the Redskins' Kirk Cousins.
Then there is the draft and if a quarterback worthy of the seventh overall pick will fall to the Bucs.
Dungy might be right to believe the 2014 Bucs are better than the team he inherited in 1996 and they could experience a quick turnaround. But the Chiefs of 2013? Not without the quarterback position solved.
"I'm excited about watching them practice and seeing the whole thing grow," Dungy said. "I'm energized by this, and I think Bucs fans will be, too."
DID YOU KNOW? Dungy tried to hire Tedford as offensive coordinator in Tampa Bay. But, Dungy said, "(Tedford) wanted to stay in college, and that was the track he wanted to go on. … He's a very good offensive coach, and they've got some weaponry there."
PRICE OF MOVING UP: If you believe the Bucs should make a deal with the Rams to move up to the No. 2 draft pick and assure themselves of at least the second-best quarterback, consider the expense.
Two years ago, the Redskins made a deal with the Rams to move from No. 6 to No. 2 and take QB Robert Griffin III. The Rams received three first-round picks and a second-rounder. One first-rounder has become the No. 2 overall selection in May.
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The Redskins won the NFC East in 2012, and Griffin was offensive rookie of the year. But his knee injury affected him this season. He was benched for the final three games. The Redskins finished 3-13, and coach Mike Shanahan was fired.
If you think short term, the owners think short term.