It is Monday and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your questions that readers submitted via Twitter using #PRMailbag.
Question: Do you think the Bucs regret not taking a pass rusher, such as Jordan Willis, in the draft?
Answer: In hindsight perhaps, but they are pleased with the players they selected, and so far it looks like a solid draft class. You can always go back and wish you could do a re-draft in certain rounds. Would the Bucs love to have running back Kareem Hunt? You bet. But it didn’t fall that way for them. They had their guys ranked and stick to that for the most part, putting their faith in their scouting department. In this instance, wide receiver Chris Godwin carried a second-round grade and was a steal in the Bucs’ minds in the third round. Tampa Bay had a late first-round grade on safety Justin Evans, who was selected in the second round and played well in his first start on Thursday night, recording his first career interception.
As far as defensive end Jordan Willis, he isn’t necessarily lighting it up, as he only has one sack so far this season for the Bengals. However, he very well may turn into a double-digit sack guy moving forward. It is just too soon to say. You can bet the pass rush will be a priority in the 2018 draft class, but with only an average of seven picks, it is impossible to get every player you want in the draft. And let’s not forget, basically this same unit got 38 sacks in 2016, which I believe ranked ninth in the NFL. Good news for the team and their fans is, the group showed some life on Thursday night with three sacks of New England quarterback Tom Brady. The Bucs hope it continues this week as Carson Palmer can pick a defense apart like a surgeon if give plenty of time to throw.
Question: I’ve never seen an NFL team have such difficulty gaining one yard when needed. Why don’t they allow Jameis Winston to do a quarterback sneak?
Answer: We have asked Dirk Koetter about that numerous times and his answer is always pretty vague. Even recently he said – to paraphrase – some players (quarterbacks) are better at it than others and it isn’t something that he likes to call. If I remember correctly, Winston was pretty successful at it at FSU. The only one I remember Koetter calling was in a game last season, and Winston did end up fumbling. However, you have a 6-4, 230-pound player literally standing over the 36 inches you need for a first down it makes a ton of sense to me to run Winston right being center Ali Marpet or even right guard J.R. Sweezy. But Koetter is opposed to it, and it is doubtful we see it in the future.
Question: With the kicking problems, has anyone considered our special teams coach might be the problem?
Answer: Well if Nate Kaczor is the problem with kickers Roberto Aguayo and Nick Folk, then he is the solution for Bryan Anger, who is one of the best punters in the NFL. Honestly, there is little Kaczor has to do with the accuracy of kickers. They are basically left alone to do their thing in practice, with the punter and long snapper. That’s the way it is around the league. There isn’t a whole lot of “kicking” coaching going on.
A special teams coordinator can be a part-time psychologist at times, but as far as fine-tuning a kicker’s mechanics, that is left up to the kicker to do. That is pretty much across the board in the NFL. Some teams may bring in hired guns, a swing coach, if you will, but most special teams coaches in the league weren’t kickers. They spend a majority of their time working with personnel groups for game-planning kickoffs, returns, coverage and the same with punts. The Bucs added former kicker Patrick Murray on Monday after trying out a number of others. Let’s see if it pans out. Hard to think it can be any worse than Folk, who has missed seven kicks (five field goals and two extra points) in four games.
Question: Will DeSean Jackson and Winston finally connect for a big game? What signs point to that?
Answer: It has to. Like very soon. As far as signs pointing to it? Not sure we can say there are any, but rest assured it is being worked on. Timing and chemistry are the two big things, and Jackson wasn’t here for some of the OTAs and offseason work. He was noticeably absent, yet those workouts were voluntary.
Is that the reason? Who knows, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt to had all the possible practices together for Winston and Jackson to work on their downfield chemistry. If Jackson had signed with the Patriots or Saints, this probably isn’t as big of an issue. Quarterback experience has a lot to do with it. And let’s face it, Winston hasn’t really ever had any burners to throw to, even going back to college. I do expect their timing to get better and I think we see improvement moving forward. And while fans may be disappointed so far, Jackson is still on pace to have a 1,000 yard season.