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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Bucs need a franchise more than a franchise quarterback

Philadelphia mayor Nick Foles was amazing in Super Bowl LII.

In other news, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is going to be a father.

Congratulations are in order.

And maybe an apology.

Maybe we have this "franchise quarterback" thing all wrong.

Foles, with an MVP performance for the ages, the kind that makes a city riot — at least in Philedelphia – has all but thrown the idea of a franchise quarterback in the dust bin of history.

You don't need a franchise quarterback to win a Super Bowl.

You need the first word more than the second.

Get the franchise, and the quarterback will follow.

We should have learned our lesson years ago, when a sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady lifted the New England Patriots to incredible heights, the kind that Sunday's Super Bowl loss doesn't change.

Was it the franchise or the quarterback?

A little of both.

Maybe the same is true with Philadelphia, now a shining example of pushing through old ideas all the way to the top of the world.

I still want a good quarterback.

I want a good franchise even more.

The Bucs can be the Eagles. Anyone can be the Eagles. Maybe Bucs coach Dirk Koetter can be Doug Pederson and Bucs GM Jason Licht can be Eagles GM Howie Roseman, though Roseman actually traded for a running back, Jay Ajayi, during the season. They allow that in the NFL, you know. Ajayi – and former Buc LeGarrette Blount rumbled over the Pats when Foles wasn't dissecting them.

Maybe the Bucs can pivot and rebuild a team on the fly, as the Eagles did when beset with injuries.

If Nick Foles can do it, why not anyone else. Why not Jameis?

There's hope. And there's an education.

The Bucs need to put the "franchise" in "franchise quarterback."

It's as simple as that. They tried to build a team around Winston. At this point, they should be building Winston around the franchise.

One will follow the other.

The Bucs don't have the look of a franchise that is a year away from a Super Bowl. And remember that the Super Bowl after that is right here in Tampa Bay. Stranger things have happened, but the 2017 Bucs went from Hard Knocks to hard reality.

The franchise is not that close. Neither is its quarterback.

Things change in the NFL. Sometimes on a dime. But I wouldn't bet a nickel that Winston becomes a franchise quarterback until this franchise gets its act together, on the field, in the draft, in free agency, everywhere.

You know, trades are still allowed in the NFL.

"Franchise quarterback" is such a strange term, overused. It gets thrown around in the NFL. It got thrown around when it comes to Winston. It has been thrown around everyone, except maybe Nick Foles. There was a day when the Bucs couldn't beat Nick Foles, and that was before he was NICK FOLES.

You don't need your name in lights to lead a team to a Super Bowl win.

Foles is the underdog as object lesson. Philadelphia had built a team to withstand losing Carson Wentz. It had that defense that rose up at the end to strip Brady of another Super Bowl win and stop the unstoppable Patriots.

Repeating: Nick Foles.

True, this is the same Foles who threw for 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions in 2013, which seemed a franchise-like performance. But it was as a back-up, decidedly, that he stepped in and led the Eagles to the title. He didn't try to do too much, didn't put everything on his shoulders – and in the end did his job as well if not better than Brady on the Super stage.

The Bucs need to start building a team around Winston, a real team. They have taken a few swings, but mostly whiffed. The clock hasn't run out, but it is ticking. A champion can still be built. A franchise can win with a quarterback, not just a franchise quarterback. Nick Foles taught us that Sunday night. He taught us all a lesson.

Will the Bucs ever learn?

Put the "franchise" in franchise quarterback, then talk to us.

Contact Martin Fennelly at [email protected] Follow @mjfennelly

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