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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag  Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: When was the Bucs’ last 100-yard rusher?

ANSWER: It’s been over a calendar year since Tampa Bay had a 100-yard rusher. The Bucs are a pass-first team under the “Quarterback Whisperer” Bruce Arians, especially with the greatest quarterback of all-time under center in Tom Brady. So the Bucs don’t believe that having a 100-yard rusher is essential to winning games.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: USA Today

The last Bucs running back to top 100 yards was Ronald Jones II at Carolina in the team’s 46-23 win over the Panthers. Jones had a career-high 192 yards and one touchdown thanks in part to a 98-yard TD run. That happened on November 15, 2020, so it’s been 21 games since Tampa Bay had a running back hit the century mark until Leonard Fournette did it on Sunday against the Colts.

Fournette had a career-high four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) in helping Tampa Bay win at Indianapolis, 38-31. It was his second 100-yard game with the Bucs. The first one came in Week 2 last year when he rushed for 103 yards and two scores against the Panthers. Jones had four 100-yard games last year, including three in a row against the Chargers (111), Bears (106) and Packers (113), in addition to his big game against the Panthers in Week 10.

Fournette came close to several other 100-yard games, but just fell short. He had 93 yards rushing and a touchdown at Washington last year, and rushed for 89 yards and a TD against Kansas City in Super Bowl LV. This season, Fournette ran for 92 yards at New England and had a pair of 81-yard games at Philadelphia and against Chicago. It had been well over a year since Fournette topped the century mark himself.

QUESTION: Why is Tampa Bay putting Joe Tryon-Shoyinka inside instead of Jason Pierre-Paul? Seems like he’s not quite big enough to match up there like JPP is.

ANSWER: At 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka lacks size to play inside on a regular basis, but defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is using him as an interior rusher on obvious passing downs. Normally Jason Pierre-Paul, who is slightly bigger at 275 pounds, will rush inside in nickel packages due to his size and experience, but he’s playing with a torn rotator cuff. That makes it difficult to protect the injured shoulder when he’s got a guard crashing down on him at the same time as a double-teaming center.

If he were healthy, Pierre-Paul would be playing inside more on third-and-long situations and Tryon-Shoyinka would be playing on the edge, opposite Shaquil Barrett. But the shoulder injury is flipping those roles right now. While it could be stunting his growth as an edge rusher a bit, Tryon-Shoyinka is getting some valuable experience playing inside that should serve him well in the future. He didn’t play inside during his two years on the field at the University of Washington.

Given his plethora of injuries, his age (Pierre-Paul turns 33 in January) and his $12.5 million salary, it’s not a lock that Pierre-Paul returns to Tampa Bay next year. Tryon-Shoyinka would become the starter and I suspect the Bucs would draft another edge rusher to eventually replace Shaquil Barrett in a few years. Next year’s nickel rush package could feature Barrett and Anthony Nelson or a rookie outside with Tryon-Shoyinka continuing to rush inside, where he can use his length and quickness to beat less athletic guards.

QUESTION: If the Patriots coaches coached this team, would the Bucs be undefeated?

ANSWER: That’s an impossible question to answer because this Tampa Bay roster has been built for certain offensive and defensive schemes that are run by Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich on offense and Todd Bowles on defense. But, no, the Bucs wouldn’t be undefeated simply if Bill Belichick and his staff coached them this year.

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka

Bucs OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka – Photo by: USA Today

While one of the greatest head coaches of all-time, Belichick has only gone undefeated once during a regular season and that was the Tom Brady-Randy Moss Patriots team in 2007. The Patriots went 18-0 that year before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Belichick had Brady and a really good defense for two decades and usually averaged 11-12 wins a season, but it’s not about going undefeated. It’s about improving as the season goes along, making the playoffs and excelling in the postseason.

Right now the Patriots are 8-4 and one of the NFL’s hottest teams. Since a 19-17 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 4, the Patriots shook off a 1-3 start and have won six straight behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones. New England has won seven of its last eight with its only loss coming in overtime against Dallas. The Bucs barely beat the Patriots in Jones’ fourth NFL start. I’m not sure Tampa Bay would beat a more mature New England team right now, especially at Gillette Stadium.

QUESTION: Why does Todd Bowles insist on playing cushion coverage instead of man and jamming?

ANSWER: Injuries to several starting cornerbacks have forced defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to play more soft zone coverage this year than he would like. Bowles feels at home playing press-man coverage and zone, but zone is the safer option with less talented reserve cornerbacks in the starting lineup. The Bucs only had Carlton Davis III, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean on the field for less than one half of action in Week 1 before Murphy-Bunting dislocated his elbow against the Cowboys.

Bucs CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean

Bucs CBs Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Then Dean missed a game due to a knee injury, before Davis suffered a quad injury in Week 4 that has kept him out ever since. The good news is that Murphy-Bunting is back and played the last two games, and Davis is returning soon. But now Dean is out with a shoulder injury that head coach Bruce Arians said did not look good.

Playing press man coverage requires fast, physical cornerbacks that can properly execute the jam at the line of scrimmage and have the recovery speed in case the receiver beats the jam at the line of scrimmage. If it’s not executed well, the result could be a quick, long touchdown strike. Go back and re-watch Tyreek Hill’s first half against the Bucs in Kansas City’s 27-24 win in Week 12 last year to see the risks that are associated with playing that style of coverage.

Backup cornerbacks just don’t have the skill necessary to play that style of coverage consistently and be successful. That’s why they’re backups. If Bowles can get Davis, Dean and Murphy-Bunting back in the lineup together by the end of the season you might see the Bucs deploy more press man coverage.

QUESTION: Please confirm the Bucs’ 2022 draft picks …
Round 1. CB
Round 2. CB
Round 3. CB
Round 4. CB
Round 5. CB
Round 6. CB
Round 7. CB

ANSWER: This one literally made me laugh out loud. Yes, it’s a safe bet that the Bucs will investing at least one draft pick in a cornerback – likely a premium Day 1 or Day selection. The Bucs don’t have the salary cap room to keep all three starters – Carlton Davis III, who is in a contract year, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean. Murphy-Bunting and Dean will be entering their contract years next season. It should be noted the Bucs do not have a sixth round pick in next year’s draft.

Cincinnati CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner

Cincinnati CB Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner – Photo by: USA Today

I recently wrote about this in an SR’s Fab 5 column where I also profiled several of the top draft-eligible cornerbacks. Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht spent second round picks on Davis and Murphy-Bunting, while Dean was a third round pick. He also spent a Top 12 pick on former cornerback Vernon Hargeaves III, so he clearly values the position.

We’ve also seen Licht select two cornerbacks in the same draft before with Murphy-Bunting and Dean in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bucs take two cornerbacks this year. Davis, who is Tampa Bay’s best cornerback, is a lock to return with at least the franchise tag – if not a new multi-year deal. The jury is still out on the futures of Murphy-Bunting and Dean, as their play has been inconsistent at best through the years. Licht may need to draft two cornerbacks to ultimately replace both Murphy-Bunting and Dean down the road.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at:
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1 month ago

Some of these questions are pretty silly, such as “If the Patriots coaches coached this team, would the Bucs be undefeated?” I’d answer that question with another seemingly silly question, “Would the Patriots be undefeated this season if Belichick was the head coach?” The question answers itself. Belichick built his team that is currently 8-4, just as Arians along with Licht built the current Bucs team that is 8-3, including a win on the road against the Pats, so that is not a dumb counter argument on coaching performance. So any differences in talent are due to the guys picking… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

It’s an interesting question about the Patriot coaches but agree it’s not something that can really be answered. One thing I would say is I’m betting the team would be more disciplined with those coaches. It’s something that has frustrated me with the Bucs this year. The NO game clearly could have been won if the team simply showed better discipline. The refs were bad but the team compounded it by taking undisciplined penalties on top of that. With all that said I’m pretty happy with the Tampa coaches and hopeful the discipline will show up more often as we… Read more »

1 month ago

Only a moron would suggest the Bucs draft seven CB’s in a draft and when you look at the Bucs pass defense woes this season, it hasn’t been because the CB play has been bad but because the third down pass rush has been inefficient.
This was the same mistake the Bucs made when they drafted the slow footed Hargeaves which PR writers were lobbying for instead of a DL or pass rusher.
The cure for that isn’t to draft more CB’s but to draft better pass rushers. Some of you clowns would break the needle on a stupid meter.

Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

DRD…you take yourself way too seriously…much more serious than anyone on this site takes you.

Reply to  drdneast
1 month ago

Got to agree with drdneast on this one as to need; not the manner how he addresses it though.

Captain Sly
1 month ago

You’re right Scott, JTS as interior rusher has been effective. Too big, Too strong, Too quick for interior lineman to block. Teams will begin to circle where he’s at along the line to try shift protections which should loosen things up for Shaq.

1 month ago

I agree. They need to draft at least 2 DBs. Bill Belichick drafts from the back to the front. Works for him.

Reply to  HomerSimpsonRocks
1 month ago

Completely off-base assessment of Belichick. He does just the opposite and is quite bad at drafting corners and WR when he does select them. But the list of high draft picks along the lines includes Seymour, Wilfork, Mankins, Light, Warren, Solder, Jones, Vollmer, Barmore along with a bunch of really good TE and LB at the next level. The list of good high picks WR and DB is short and the list of busts is lengthy. I would much rather have Licht and company drafting WR and DB than Belichick.

Captain Sly
1 month ago

Nobody Knows! But my guess is If the Patriots coaches coached this team we certainly wouldn’t have lost to 2 backup QB’s in Trevor Simeon & Tyler Hienikie. 10-1 on a bad Sunday but certainly 11-0 wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility. Best Coaching Staff in the entire league with the Best QB, Yeah I like those Odds.

Reply to  Captain Sly
1 month ago

Arians and his staff have out coached Belichick (a Super Bowl championship, and a head to head defeat of the Pats this season, on the road, and a slightly better win/loss record to date this season) and his staff the last two seasons in a row, so Belichick’s staff certainly isn’t the best in the league. If Belichick was so great, why did the GOAT want to get away from him, and instead embrace coach Arians? The GOAT did that to immediately win at least one Super Bowl, and quite possibly back to back SB wins, and his last season… Read more »

Reply to  Naplesfan
1 month ago

Brady left for many reasons but I think #1 was because Belichick is a giant pain in the azz to play for and after 20 years he had enough. That being said, Belichick is quite obviously the best coach in the business. That’s not a knock on BA and doesn’t mean it can’t be done another way. I don’t like the guy (Belichick) but facts are facts.

1 month ago

I hope they draft at least 2 CB’s as it’s hard to hit on them being good. See SMB and Dean! The 7 draft picks for CB was obviously a frigging joke. Guys here freaking out don’t draft 7 CB’s. Lol.

Captain Sly
Reply to  fredster
1 month ago

Hey fredster, I’m good with the Bucs drafting 7 CB’s (kidding) but don’t expect it to fix Bowles’ bad scheme. Rookie CB’s on an island with no safety help would even make Johnny Football salivate at the opportunity to come back.

1 month ago

Not so sure we need anymore DB’s; just healthy ones. DL is a good focus for 1st round; DL for 2nd round too. After that; let it rip!

Reply to  Horse
1 month ago

I’m with you on that one my friend. Hopefully there is a worthy defensive lineman left to select with the #32 spot.

1 month ago

I’m pretty sure the person who posed the absurd question was being sarcastic and not so much a “moron” as you suggested. Since you often use the terms “moron” and “idiot” when describing someone with a different opinion than yours, before I ask Alexis; what is the DrD criteria for getting one of those monikers?