It is Monday and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your questions that readers submitted via Twitter using #PRMailbag.

Question: What’s going to happen with our new defensive players (T.J. Ward and Chris Baker) voicing their displeasure?

Answer: It certainly isn’t ideal, and there should be some concern. But Dirk Koetter addressed the issue on Monday during his day-after-game press conference and chalked it up to frustration. He understands all players want to be playing more, but he also said the right place to voice that displeasure to, is to someone who can do something about it, meaning the coaches and not the media. I maintain this could go either way. It could cause a rift between the coaches and the players, or it perhaps it brings the defense closer together and they rally.

But in all honesty, this frustration happens a lot more than we know. It may not get said out loud as Ward and Baker did, but it happens all the time. Sometimes even with teams that are winning. Competitive athletes have a lot of pride and don’t like sitting when they feel they can perform better than the one in front of them.

Question: Will Mike Smith get fired before the end of the season?

Answer: It has happened before. Even here in Tampa when Raheem Morris took over for Jim Bates calling the defensive plays in 2009, and essentially when when Lovie Smith stripped then defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier of his responsibilities. However, I don’t see any drastic changes happening midseason. Koetter and Smith have a long-working relationship and admiration for each other. I also believe Koetter is loyal. He said it on Monday, “We have a great defensive staff.” If Koetter was a defensive minded coach then perhaps he would pull a Lovie Smith, but the Bucs re-signed Smith this offseason to a new deal, and from Koetter’s explanations of the woes, he is pinning more on execution, more so than scheme and coaching.

Question: Is the problem with the defense primarily scheme, injuries or poor play? I know it’s a mixture but which one is the focus?

Answer: Well despite what Koetter says, it is more than just execution. The coaches have to take some of the blame as well. Even if they were making the perfect calls, and the players were screwing it up, who coaches the players? But on the other side of the argument, the staff hasn’t missed a single tackle this year, or dropped an interception. The major part of the accountability has to fall on the players. Yes, the coaches do come up with the scheme and do make the calls, but being out of position and not being fundamentally sound has to be mainly on the players themselves. It is funny how this team has had no problems with tackling at home, but for whatever reason struggle on the road. That tells me it a mental preparation issue more than a scheme issue. Just my two cents though.

Question: Can you honestly say McCoy is giving 100 percent effort every play? It seems he takes plays off.

Answer: I would never question McCoy’s effort. I have seen guys loaf, but can’t remember anything egregious from McCoy. He is very prideful and is, in my opinion, a high effort guy. With that said, there is no way a defensive tackle, or any position for that matter, can give 100 percent effort for 75 snaps a game. That’s just a fact. Whether it is an injury, conditioning, or saving yourself a little for a third down rush, to ask a player to be at maximum every snap is impossible. I would venture to guess even the best players in NFL history paced themselves to a degree.

Question: Who should the Bucs take with the 6th pick overall in the 2018 draft?

Answer: Pass rusher. The best one available, And if he isn’t then you trade up to get the best one. Now I am more confident that you that the Bucs will be picking much lower than at No. 6. but this team needs help, and not just with a first rounder. The problem is, rarely do first round pass rushers become stars as rookies. This team needs a star pass rusher from the edge. Looking at the Top 10 sackers so far in 2017, and all but two are players who have three or more years in the league, including Calais Campbell who leads the league with 10 sacks, but also happens to be in his 10th season. Joey Bosa had a great year in as a rookie in 2016 but still didn’t record double digit sacks.

Of course if Penn State’s Saquon Barkely is there…

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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]

21 COMMENTS

  1. I think you need new DT’s as much, if not more then DE’s. We are not very good in the middle of the D line either. McCoy’s replacement needs to be drafted ASP.

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  2. After 40 years haven’t we learned by now trading up with our 1st round draft pick never works. Geez Mark, do your homework!
    Name me one and if there was one did it pay off. I’m talking about our official first round pick based on the previous season.

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    • It would’ve worked the one time Gruden wanted trade up for Calvin Johnson at 2 with the Lions instead of the draft triple threat of Gaines Adams, Arron Sears and Sabby Piscitelli in 2007.

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  3. our draft has to be d-line and db. Every pick. I love me Barkley and is is a beast, but this entire draft has to be defense. Love Chubb from NC state, damn good and nasty and we need some nasty.

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    • Could not agree more CG. I have seen Chubb play he would look great in Pewter. Barkley I have not seen what school does he play for?
      Last draft there were a lot off D Linemen and did not take ONE. Sometimes I think or GM trades away 4th rd. picks to much and last year there were some good players in the 4th.

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  4. It must be reassuring to Koetter when he hears Gruden mention on Mike, and Mike that he ran into Jameis at dinner Tuesday night, and they talked football. Gruden, with his own admission that he wants back in coaching some day, is now the elephant in Tampa. Depending on our record come Monday Night Football when Gruden gets his name in the stands, that elephant might be to big to ignore. Of course Dirk can change all that with a nice win streak. How many wins will he need to be not voted off the island. I say he has to go 5-5 down the stretch to be safe, that’s 7-9.

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    • Surfer, Not sure about that. Mebbe so,mebbe not! Tony Dungy went to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001 only to lose in the first round. Dungy was fired with a winning record and John Gruden was hired in February 2002. Dungy was fired on January 14, 2002 due to the club’s repeated losses in the playoffs. Additionally, owner Malcolm Glazer felt Dungy’s offense was too conservative. Dungy thus became the first coach in Bucs history to leave the team with a winning record. (Info from Wikipedia). We haven’t smelt the playoffs since Gruden. Soooo I dunno! lol.

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    • If Gruden has interest in coming back to the team as HC it’s a no brainer. He’s a much better coach and play caller.

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      • Jon Gruden has not been hired as a head coach by other teams in the NFL for a reason. Let it go….Gruden has come and gone for a good reason.

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        • GRUDEN has turned down some if not many TEAMS.

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    • 7-9 gets you fired in Tampa after going 9-7….sorry!

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  5. There’s definitely a disconnect between the players and coaches on defense. I don’t believe any amount of talent thrown Mike Smith’s way is going to lead to success.

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    • So the fact there isn’t a single edge rusher capable of getting to the QB on the roster and the top two corners are a 34 year old at the end of his career (Grimes) and a sophomore who has been one of the worst in the league (Hargreaves) since he stepped on the field isn’t a concern for you?

      Hey maybe Mike Smith can rush the passer or cover a WR, has anyone tested his 40 lately 😛

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  6. My goodness we’re talking Draft before Halloween. Seems like old times. With the first choice in the 2018 Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select…………………..

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  7. Not only talking draft in October, but maybe a new G.M., and coaching change. That could all happen, with a trip to N.O., what will Drew do to this defense, and God forbid Josh McCown comes to town, and beats us. It will be sad if Cam after two bad games rips us on Sunday. Halloween is coming, our season could become nightmare at one Buc!

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  8. I’ve watched this movie before. The Defense sucks, because players are missing assignments and making mental errors. Maybe they weren’t ready for Calculus and need to go back to 2+2. Sometimes just letting your talented players make plays works better than your scheme beating the opponents scheme.

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  9. Our remaining games are: twice against all of our rivals (Brees and Ryan will throw for a combined 2,000 yards in those 4 games….can we beat the Panthers?); Lions (Stafford will have a field-day), Packers (road in winter…good luck), Dolphins (road), Jets (McClown will be out to ruin us again). How many more wins can we realistically expect this year?…2?…3?

    We are so picking in the top-5….again. And if Koetter wants to tie his boat to the good ship Smitty, he’ll probably go down with it too at year’s end. Sad to see, but the writing is on the wall, and if Koetter wants to blame “execution”…well as good ‘ol Coach McKay used to say, “I’m in favor of it”.

    And with the 5th pick in the 2018 draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select: Bradley Chubb, DE, N.C. State

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  10. Defense is Buc Ball. In the day with the points we have scored we would be undefeated.
    There are a few truisms
    -Games are won in the trenches
    -Great defense beats great offense
    We have neither.

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  11. A change of scheme and players is necessary to turn the season into a success. Go to a 3-4 scheme with McCoy at defensive end and bring Beckwith in at inside linebacker with Alexander and the pass rush will improve and the run defense improves as well. CHANGE is necessary but very hard to get COACHES TO DO. Ego CAN BE DEVASTATING SOMETIMES!

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  12. Jon Gruden has not been hired by an NFL team, but don’t think he hasn’t been pursued. There’s 6 to 8 H.C. jobs available each year, if you don’t think Gruden has been offered his share, your kidding yourself. As far as switching to a 3-4 defense, good idea, should’ve hired Wade Phillips. Smitty doesn’t run that.

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  13. Mike Smith has no business being defensive coordinator. He doesn’t know how to make adjustments at half time or know what schemes work better for our players. He is clueless. He has consistently stuck overall with a 3 or 4 man pass rush and look at our stats trying to stop the pass. He refuses to blitz like most teams in the NFL do on a consistent basis. What in the hell would it hurt to do it when you can’t stop the other teams passing with the ineffective scheme you are using. It can’t get any worse. This team is going to pay the price for Koetter letting friendship with Smith getting in the way for doing what is best for this team.

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