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…