We’re midway through the 2016 NFL season, and it seems pretty clear the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are done, after getting blown out by the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football.

The Bucs are now 3-5, while the division-leading Atlanta Falcons are 6-3. Even if the Bucs win every single remaining game, they’ll still need to get lucky to catch up to Atlanta to win the division. And even a wild card playoff spot seems out of reach: only two other NFC teams have worse or equal records than the Bucs.

Which means, well, we can start talking about the 2017 NFL draft. Yet another season that was futile and pointless, yet another season that is effectively over with months of torture remaining.

Here’s what the Bucs can hope for, at least: good draft position and/or improvement out of their team, and especially Jameis Winston. Some hope for the future.

This also brings up yet another topic: why was Lovie Smith fired, again? Because this team does not look fundamentally different from last year’s. Mike Smith’s defense is fairly similar to Lovie’s, certainly in terms of results, despite getting some quality new players. And the offense is arguably worse than last year, though that’s in part due to injuries.

That may lead to some interesting questions the Glazers start asking in December, particularly about Mike Smith’s position, but also Jason Licht’s. Any actual moves seem unlikely, but there’s going to be some pressure on both of them — and a lot of pressure to nail the draft, and free agency.


Article first appeared on www.bucsnation.com