PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature this year, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered about the Bucs by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions and our message boards using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question 1. Louis Carter wants to know, Winston to Evans could be special, if they aren’t already. But even they need some help. Why go into a season of building around a franchise QB and give him no WR help and rely on VJax who clearly was on his last legs?
Answer: I suppose the Bucs felt that Jackson still had some gas in the tank. Or felt comfortable with the other receivers on the roster. Of course it is easy to sit back and question things six weeks into the season, and in hindsight the front office most likely wishes that had a little more firepower at the receiver position, but you can’t have depth at every position in a salary cap league like the NFL. Or at least you can’t build it in one or even two off seasons. This team set franchise records for offense in 2015, so there was no reason to think they couldn’t come close to duplicating it this season again. Obviously the Bucs front office will look to add some speed next offseason, either through free agency or the draft, possibly both.
Question 2. Donkey Hunter asks, another game and ANOTHER missed field goal from Aguayo. While there’s little debate that this was one of the worst picks in franchise history, at what point do you bring in competition? He’s already cost us a game.
Answer: I wouldn’t hold my breath that the team brings in any competition unless Aguayo just goes in full meltdown mode. And while it isn’t looking good through six games, to say is one of the worst pics in franchise history is way too premature. There are legitimate concerns in the organization about Aguayo but the team isn’t panicking just yet. The bottom line is however, Aguayo needs to get it figured out and get it figured out soon. There will be more games this season that will be decided by a field goal.
Question 3. JerseyBucsFan wants to know, we’ve been down this road before where anticipation was met with letdown. The Bucs continue to do nice things in the running game but the consistency of the passing game is my concern. Russell Shepard is stepping up but was the Niner game an aberration and what happened to Cecil Shorts? Lastly is Shepard a threat to unseat Cecil as a starter?
Answer: I think he may have already unseated Shorts. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shepard start in the Bucs three-recevier formation against the Raiders next Sunday. Shorts was on the field for 31 plays on Sunday at San Francisco but failed to record a catch. That’s not just bad luck. Koetter obviously raved about Shepard on Sunday after the game, and again on Monday during his day-after press conference. Shepard was very raw coming out of college, as LSU hasn’t been known for exactly throwing the ball all over the field in the last few years. I am not sure Shepard ever develops more than a No. 3 type receiver, but his contributions on Sunday against the Niners were huge. Maybe the Bucs keep a rotational situation at receiver moving forward, going with the hot hand, and perhaps Shorts makes an impact next Sunday against Oakland, but regardless, Shepard has earned the right to see more action on offense.
Question 4. Alldaway 2.0, Return units look very weak. Does Koetter shake things up at punt and kick return spots?
Answer: Coach talked about his return game on Monday.
“And we have no problem with [cornerback] Ryan [Smith] – or Adam if he’s back there – but we have no problem with our return guys. Ryan, on the first one he brought out, I don’t think he fully committed to it. I think he hesitated a little bit and if you hesitate on that play, it’s not going to work out. And then after the penalty, when they ran that mortar kick with kicking off from the 50, I think Ryan just kind of lost track of where he was. It was close, ‘Am I in the end zone, not in the end zone?’ If you’re unsure, you’ve got to bring it out. And we didn’t block those as well as we can. That’s what thing when we do bring the ball out, we have to improve. We’ve been doing okay, but yesterday we took a little step back there.”
I do agree with Koetter, the blocking on the kick returns were awful. Maybe the kickoff return team was just used to a majority of kickoffs being touchbacks. But you can bet that unit will get an earful from the coaching staff when they are back in the building on Wednesday.
Question 5. Chetthevette asks, After chewing out some players on special teams what do you think should be Koetters main focus should be to beat the Raiders?
Answer: Don’t start getting too full of yourselves. At least that would be my message to the players. Don’t let two wins in a row skew your feelings on how hard you need to work during the week and on Sunday when Oakland comes to town. There might have been a little bit of a case of that following the Week 1 against the Falcons. I would also remind this team they are on the verge of perhaps turning a corner. Explain the magnitude of the next few weeks and what it could mean for the franchise moving forward, and also the community. This town wants to believe. They want to love this team again. It is within reach. Next would be to show them they are starting to create an identity on offense as a tough hard-nosed running team, and an opportunistic, fundamentally sound unit on defense. Just keep doing what they have been doing the last two weeks. Play fast, hard and smart, and let the chips fall where they may when the final whistle sounds each week.
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
You’re right Mark. The town wants to believe, but most are still cautious about getting too emotionally involved until there are some further signs that the “culture change” has occurred before exposing themselves to the all too frequent disappointment. What I’ve liked is the “fight back” the team has exhibited the past two games. “Casual fans”, as my old friend BF47 used to call them, are on the cusp of allowing pent up emotions to surface. Still in wait and see mode before flying the flags.
A win at “home” over a good Raiders team will do wonders for the area. There will be a burst of enthusiasm heading into the Thursday Night game with the Division lead on the line. A victory against the Falcons on national TV will have a similar effect as one of those little blue pills. Bucs fans everywhere will be standing tall…………..maybe even longer than 4 hours.
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Cute stuff Scu, Whatever happened to Kenny Bell?? Thought he would get a chance. Out of the area so I miss things. Did we release him.
I hate to sound negative, but we have been let down and waiting over 10 years for a team and coach that’s not laughing stock of NFL.
I want to believe, but a meltdown and bad loss against Raiders still seems very possible to me.
Like Saints game last year when we were 6-6. Different team and coach so perhaps I’m wrong but they have looked like last years Bucs a lot on defense.
On the other hand the secondary is improving no doubt. Just need D line guys back and healthy.
I so hope I’m wrong and we can somehow dig deep and win it at home. Been so long since we had a winning record!
As far as Aguayo I don’t see him getting better. Hope I’m wrong about him too. I just know at some point in a close game he’s going to March out to make a very makeable FG under 50 yards and miss. Have no faith he turns it around. He’s horrible. Like a bad golfer it’s in his head now.
Good answers Mark. Scubog said it all; we all would like to start believing the corner has turned. Next 3 games we have to get atleast two wins. Go Bucs!
What is gratifying is how well this team is playing despite all the injuries. I was not surprised by Shepherd’s good plays this week. I felt long ago he should be the backup to VJAX should VJAX get hurt. Shepherd should be the new second receiver in our Offense, even when VJAX comes back. Our Defense is playing better despite McCoy not being 100% yet. I think part of that is what I said at the start of the season: that it will take awhile for our defense to pick up the new system. Our DC continues to add more blitzes and that paid off against San Francisco. I love our running game! I think the Bucs can win this Sunday, especially if we can get our best DE back along with and our long injured experienced receiver too, but it won’t be easy because the Raiders have proved they are the real deal this year. I actually wanted us to take their QB in the draft, and he is playing like an elite QB now. They have a great running game too and a tough defense as good as ours. They have won big games away like we have too. Go Bucs!!!!
With the Bucs it’s always “wait and see”. If the Bucs were going to be slam dunk champs forevermore, it would be fun but also boring. Look how many tens of millions of NFL fans are bored by the Patriots always winning … which is why, like a certain politician these days, the fans of teams that Belichick and Brady always beat generally bitch about the “Cheatriots”, and that it’s “rigged.”.
Look, even after we won our first and only Super Bowl, gloriously beating down and not merely defeating the Raiders, we then went out and stunk up the joint for the next coupla seasons, and didn’t return to the playoffs again until 2005.
With the Bucs, it’s always “wait and see”. “Believing” is for suckers, at least when it comes to being a Bucs fan, unless one enjoys being disappointed. Enjoy the wins and winning seasons and playoff seasons whenever they occur, knowing that, like the name of this league, it’s probably “not for long”.
Right now I’m enjoying our two game win streak and hoping it’ll shortly be three.
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