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: What does Jameis need to do to become number one in yards for a two-year guy?
Answer: If you mean to set the NFL record for most passing yards in his first two seasons, then the number is 790 over the next three games. Andrew Luck currently holds the record (8,196) followed by Cam Newton(7,920) then Peyton Manning(7,874). Barring an injury I think there is a very good chance he sets set the mark by the season’s end. He will need to average 264 yards in the last three games, and he is almost averaging that this season. I think he is due for a big game passing wise, and all three of these games will most likely be meaningful, and with the run game struggling, I expect him to sling the ball more to close the season.
Question: Does Javien Elliott continue to see the majority of nickel snaps once Jude is back next week?
Answer: Well it might be hard to win the job back. Elliott played all 40 snaps when the Bucs defense was in nickel against the Saints. And from what we have heard from the team, they have full confidence in him. I thought he played well on Sunday and didn’t seem to be out of position, at least from my untrained eye. And I was impressed with his toughness and willingness to take on players that outweighed him considerably. Mike Smith expects his cornerbacks to be physical, and that was one of the reasons why they drafted Vernon Hargreaves. Elliott is still raw, but is working very hard by all accounts.
Question: OT Donovan Smith is not getting better. Should the Bucs move on next season?
Answer: He certainly hasn’t made the jump that many, myself included, expected. Dirk Koetter defended him last week during a press conference saying he has been fine, and goes against premiere pass rushers week in and week out. And Koetter is correct. I still believe Smith is a serviceable left tackle and shows flashes of being very good at times, but consistency is something lacking, but to be fair, is also one of the toughest things to accomplish. I mean of any position on a football team, a starting offensive linemen can’t afford to take a play off. Not a single one. However, the good ones are paid handsomely, so no one is feeling sorry for them.
As far as moving on, what is the game plan if you do that? Who is better on the roster, and if the Bucs are picking say 20th, is there one worthy of being picked that high, and do you neglect positions that the team probably feels are more critical? You can look free agent wise, but be expected to dish out more than they did for Anthony Collins, who turned out to be awful. And teams just aren’t going to part ways with a premiere left tackle. I would be very suspect of a starting caliber left tackle reaching free agency.
I think the Bucs stick with Smith and hope he continues to develop more consistency and figures it out. And for the record I think his overall play is good enough to win a lot of football games.
Question: Based on how the season has progressed, what are the three biggest needs for improvement this offseason via draft or FA?
Answer: Kicker of course! Kidding. Kind of.
Well with the improvement of the secondary play, and the emergence of Keith Tandy as of late, safety may have dropped a little bit, at least compared to what it was earlier this season. I still think the Bucs look to upgrade that position, especially with Chris Conte and McDougald on one-year deals. It wouldn’t surprise me to see both brought back, at at least attempted to be re-signed, but I wouldn’t expect any big-money, long-term deals just yet.
To me the obvious upgrade needed is in the receiving corps. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tampa Bay sign a least one free agent then circle back in the draft and add at least one more. Maybe even in the first round. I think getting Winston some additional weapons will be a priority this offseason. But also having better depth. I am not knocking Freddie Martino or Josh Huff, but if Mike Evans were to go down this team is done. And the year is only one hamstring pull away from an 8-8 season.
Finding and developing tackle depth would also be something I wouldn’t mind seeing as well. Cherilus is most likely finished after this season, and Dotson is the elder statesmen of the offensive line. While he probably has a couple years left, it’s never too soon to start looking to the future.
Question: How do our OT’s penalty numbers look compared to other OT penalty numbers around the league?
Answer: I can’t find a specific stat for that, but I would guess it is about average. I know it might seem like it is worse, but that it is because we are focused on this team and rarely pay attention to other team’s flaws. I am more concerned with the silly mental errors that plague the line though. Two false starts in the first half by Donovan Smith? Cherilus forgetting to report eligible like he did a couple weeks ago? Holding penalties happen, and really could be called a lot more often, but not knowing the snap count, at home, is really poor and very frustrating to Dirk Koetter. Five yards is hard to get in this league, and giving them up for free can be back breakers when you go from third-and-6, to third-and-11.
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 [email protected]
I keep singing my same song; it starts with a bigger, faster, stronger Center. Smith nor Dotson are that bad. Just look at the run blocking versus the pass blocking and the Center plays a big part in both. I agree we could use another WR and probably another TE, but if a good OL is available in either the 1st or 2nd round that’s who I’m drafting. Go Bucs!
Horse, That would be the plan if you and I were in charge.
Offensive line is always a work in progress. The Bucs have been guilty in some years past of neglecting the O-line during the offseason, and that has cost us. Every single offseason we need to add two quality linemen to the offense, just to keep up with injuries, retirements, and such. We have a pretty good line now – not great, but good enough to do what we’re doing now, which has been pretty decent, obviously, with us being competitive for the playoffs in December. But we also can get better. If Donovan Smith can get better great, but let’s also get some more talent at his position in the draft for development purposes, in case he doesn’t get better.
Horse in a perfect world it would be great if Sweezy gets healthy next year and moves to guard and Marphet moves to center. I think that would actually give our OL a lot more punch and Sweezy has an attitude that the rest of OL could pick up on. Then pick up a center or tackle in 3rd or 4th round.
Hey, I’m good with that.
I think it has become apparent lately why the Bucs signed JR Sweezy. Pamphille is a steady back up but isn’t good enough yet to be a full time starter.
Except for those annoying pre snap penalties Smith is doing fine. To many Buc fans still get tunnel vision in regards to some players.
As far as moving Marpet to center, if it’s not broke jme0151, why fix it. Sweezy was supposed to come in and plat the left guard position, not right.
If you want to tinker with something, go fix an old toaster.
Nice article Mark!
I think Donovan Smith needs to work harder. I heard him on total access joking about his leg strength and his chicken legs…get in the weight room this offseason and fix the chicken legs. It’s not a big surprise that when he gets beat its usually because he’s off balance.
As far as the draft, other than a glaring need at receiver, I think we are finally in the enviable position of drafting best player available. We could upgrade at a lot of positions..WR, OT, LG, C, S and you can never have enough talent at the cornerback and defensive line positions. I also think if you have a chance to add a special player at RB, you do so. I love Doug Martin…and I am happy with the three that we have right now, but how often have they all been healthy together…a week? You need to have multiple guys. I think this team would be super bowl caliber with a consistent run game…that should be a top priority.
Some folks always seem to dump on Donovan Smith; mostly for getting a penalty. What I don’t see, is him getting beat time after time like our previous LT’s. I’m not saying he stones people like the great Paul Gruber, I just think he’s good enough and not the O-line’s biggest weakness. After all, this is only his second year. Dotson the veteran, on the other hand, gets his share of costly penalties too and gets whipped far more often than #76.
If we’re talking O-line, I agree with Horse that a more stout center is needed. Hawley is a scrappy player. He was cut by the Falcons for a reason. I know Licht mentioned Marpet moving to center at some point which would allow Sweezy (if he ever returns) to stay at his former RG position. Not sure if Panphile is the end all at LG, but he is at least getting a chance to show if he can remain the starter. Other than the oft-injured Stocker the Blocker, the other TE’s are a liability in run blocking and in my view, Cherilus isn’t athletic enough to be effective in the jumbo package.
All in all I think the pass protection is adequate. Jameis is being cautious and the receivers aren’t breaking free of coverage quick enough. The WR screen is becoming less effective as opponents see it coming. Teams are stacking the line to defend the run and having only one safety deep. The defense’s game plan seems to be to stop the run and force Jameis to try to hit a well covered Mike Evans. The other receivers just don’t garner a lot of respect. I know Sheppard had a few catches that got some folks excited but he sure has been a non-factor of late.
Sure is nice to be discussing the few concerns after a WIN and less about the Draft.
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