It is a new year and with it comes a new Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your Twitter offered questions. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Do you think the Bucs will go after old guys like Aqib Talib and Michael Bennett or do they go after guys younger with more upside? I’m just not sure grabbing 2 guys like Talib and Bennett make sense as they’re probably grabbing one last paycheck.
Answer: I do think there is a chance the Bucs could pursue Bennett if he ends up being released by the Seahawks. He was a well-loved teammate and while there aren’t many former teammates left, guys like Gerald McCoy would most certainly vouch for him. We spoke to McCoy at the Pro Bowl and when asked what type of free agents he wanted to see the Buc pursue, he he was quick to answer.
“Mike Bennett,” McCoy said. “Aqib Talib. I want to get all the guys back together. When you(free agents) come into our building, whatever made you a champion, or whatever made you who you are, bring that. Show us what it takes to be a champion, show us what it takes to be successful. Because most of the guys we are going to bring in are going to be playoff players. Have been in the playoffs. Had success. Have rings. Been to a Super Bowl, or have been deep in the playoffs. Bring that. Show us what it takes to get there. We have to get there.”
I think everyone in the organization realizes what a huge mistake it was to let Bennett get away for less than $500,000 annually. The chance to make amends would be something I think the team would like to consider. And let’s face it. This team needs pass rushers. Is Bennett the same player he was when he last played for the Buccaneers? Maybe or maybe not, but he would automatically become the best defensive end on the roster if signed this offseason.
As far as Talib, he too isn’t a free agent, but there are report out of Denver he will be shopped this offseason, due $11 million in 2018. That is a pretty steep price to pay, however, like Bennett, he would be an immediate upgrade on this roster. Sure Talib is a knucklehead at times, but again, this team needs corner help. Imagine having Talib and Grimes lined up opposite each other and a hopefully better Hargreaves in the slot with a year of experienced Justin Evans at safety?
Personally if I am Jason Licht I am on the phone with the Seahawks and the Broncos as soon as it is allowed.
Question: What is the real story behind the move of Monken to full time offensive coordinator? Is Koetter thinking of maybe giving up play-calling after all?
Answer: That is an interesting question, and one we don’t really know the answer to exactly. Speculation is Koetter will remain the playcaller but with more involvement from Monken. Rick Stroud who broke the story, said it is possible Monken does some play-calling in camp and the preseason. I still find it highly unlikely Koetter gives up that duty once the season begins. And again as Stroud mentioned, the very reason Koetter got the job after Lovie Smith was fired was because of his reputation as a playcaller. It definitely was an interesting story to wake up to on Monday and will be interesting to see how it plays out and the reasons behind it.
Question: If you had to put a percentage on the chance the Bucs go 3-4, what would it be?
Answer: If this staff wants to survive past 2018, I would hope they would strongly consider it full-time. As Scott Reynolds pointed out in his latest Fab 5, the odds of turning things around by playing strictly a 4-3 will be difficult. There just aren’t many impact 4-3 defensive ends in this draft.
Reynolds wrote on Friday, “The problem with this year’s draft class is that a lot of the dynamic pass rushers not named Bradley Chubb are undersized guys that will transition better to the NFL as 3-4 outside linebackers than they would as 4-3 defensive ends. Chubb, who had back-to-back years with 10 sacks at North Carolina State, is the clear-cut top defensive end prospect and likely won’t make it to the Bucs, who have the seventh overall pick this year.”
Unless the Bucs get lucky and find some diamonds in the rough, or make a blockbuster trade for a proven edge rusher, expecting things to change in 2018 seems pretty farfetched. A 3-4 scheme change appears to be the most likely path to success and coaches saving their jobs.
Question: I don’t think Mike Smith is to blame. He’s a proven excellent coach. What’s the real deal with the other D coaches? Spill it!
Answer: I too agree Mike Smith is a smart football coach who has forgotten more about football schemes than most of us will ever know. With that said, his defense, regardless of circumstances, failed in 2017. How he survived – and really how most of his staff survived – was really surprising to me. But as the old saying goes, you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken poop. Well you can, but it isn’t going to be very pleasant to swallow. Much like watching the Bucs defense last year. The fact is, without a pass rush the defense is doomed. You could line up two Deion Sanders at cornerback with two Ronnie Lotts at safety, and without consistent pressure they will get beat eventually. NFL quarterbacks are just too good to be able to drop back and not be harassed. Until this team gets more horses, I don’t expect a lot to change.