Lovie Smith aiming high

TAMPA, Fla. – It’s the start of training camp around the NFL, and no team has lost a game yet. Hopes are high everywhere, even from teams that struggled last season.

That’s true in Tampa Bay, where coach Lovie Smith said Thursday the goal for the Buccaneers is to go to the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, and win it.

“Goal wise, it’s the same goal we’re always going to have," Smith said after his players reported to camp. “From 4-12, the goal is to go to Phoenix. It’s destination Phoenix. We want to win the Super Bowl. That’s our plan. Goal-wise, we’re going to talk about winning all of our games at Raymond James (Stadium). We want to win the NFC South division and then see where we can go from there. What record it takes to do that, I don’t know."

It’s natural for any coach to aim high. But Smith knows there’s a lot of work to be done to come anywhere near his goals.

“We are a 4-12 team now," Smith said. “The first thing we have to acknowledge is this is where we’re starting, which we have. That should give us a little more motivation. The ceiling for the team, I don’t know. All I’m going to talk to them about is just daily improvement and let’s see how good we can become, how soon we can become a really good football team. It’s just about the daily effort to me."

Reaching any or all of those goals is not unfathomable despite Tampa Bay’s record last season. The Bucs were extremely aggressive in free agency and Smith and general manager Jason Licht both have said they believed it was unfair to ask their fans to be patient. They want to win now and they think they have the roster to accomplish that.

“You have to come in with high expectations," Smith said. “As I talk about what our ultimate goal is, winning the Super Bowl, it’s all a process. For our players, we have to set that ceiling high right away. We’re starting off as a 4-12 team. Judge us from there and see the improvement and let’s just kind of see where we go."