It is Monday, and that means PewterReport.com answers your questions about the Bucs in an all new Monday Mailbag. You can have your question answered by submitting it on Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question: With Doug Martin most coming back this week, does he step right in as starter?
Answer: Before Sunday’s game against the Giants I would have said absolutely. But Jacquizz Rodgers had a tremendous game and was a very important component in the Bucs win. However, the Giants came into the game giving up over 150 yards on the ground, so Tampa Bay should have had some running success. I think a lot will depend on what kind of shape Martin is in. He has been away from the team for a month and was not allowed inside One Buc or to work with trainers or anyone with the organization. With that said, I would be shocked if he weren’t in tip-top shape. Not game shape, but I would be very suprised if he hasn’t been working his tail off and didn’t look essentially the same as he did when he left.
Expect Martin to work his way back in the rotation, and he should be active on Thursday night against the Patriots. We do know one thing, and that is he should have extremely fresh legs, but the last thing the team wants to do is press him into duty and he suffer something like a hamstring injury, and be lost for several weeks.
Question: Should the team start pursuing a new kicker after Nick Folk’s struggles?
Answer: Personally I would be taking a look, but dependable kickers who can handle the stress on mental aspect of the rigors of kicking in the NFL aren’t just hanging around the unemployment line. It is a unique breed. My son is a high school kicker who saw how difficult it is first hand this year, and that’s a high school team. Dirk Koetter is adamant, and reiterated it again following the game, these guys (kickers) have to make kicks, that is what they are paid to do. So his leash isn’t very long, but they need to take a look at the options. You can’t cut someone emotionally without a backup plan, so with that said, combined with the fact Folk made the game winner, I don’t see the Buccaneers making any changes. But it wouldn’t surprise me that Jason Licht isn’t checking around just in case Folk’s struggles continue.
Question: Why do you think the pass rush department has been off to a slow start? Do we need help from somewhere else to jump start it?
Answer: I just think the team lacks a lot of a talent as far as pass rushers go. That’s isn’t to say they aren’t talented defensive lineman. We have seen them play well against the run for the most part this season, and aren’t afraid to do the dirty work to free up linebackers to make plays. And it is a tough group of guys. But as far as being pure pass rushers, other than Noah Spence, I am not sure where the ceiling is for this group. Does Jacquies Smith become that guy when he gets more live game reps? Can Spence figure out some more counter moves? All of those are still question marks that need to be answered, and quickly. You can get away with zero sacks a few times a year perhaps, but just one sack in three games, against three quarterbacks who aren’t known for mobility? It is a concern. And other than trying to make a blockbuster trade, where would the help come from? As mentioned above about kickers, there aren’t many – if any – just sitting at home on their couch ready to step in and be a 10-sack guy.
Question: I see quite a bit of people stating that Hargreaves had a bad game yesterday, but from my view, I thought he had a decent game. Most of the catches that I saw that were caught on him were three-step drops and quick routes, he had a few decent break ups, and didn’t seem to get burned often or out of place.
Answer: I see both sides a little. I think there was still some lingering effect from the Vikings game with fans. But as you pointed out there was only one really big play that Hargreaves gave up and that didn’t even go for a touchdown. Brent Grimes played really well and combines with Hargreaves the duo overall were effective.
Trevor Sikkema posted the Pro Football Focus story earlier today and this is the grade given to Hargreaves: Victimized a week ago, victimized this week, Bucs second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves III was targeted 12 times against the Giants. He allowed 8 receptions for 97 yards and a 91.3 passer rating on throws into his coverage. While he kept them out of the end zone, both Brandon Marshall and Odell Beckham Jr. each were targeted 6 times and each hauled in four receptions against VHII. Despite playing 1 less game, Hargreaves has allowed the fifth-most yards in coverage among CBs so far this season at 260.