It is Monday and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your questions that readers submitted via Twitter using #PRMailbag.
Question: Why is the offensive line so horrible, especially in the run game? Is it coaching, chemistry, personnel, or something else?
Answer: Yes. Yes. Yes. And yes.
All of the above. I think George Warhop is a good technical coach, and the players all rave about him despite his rough personality as a coach. But something is missing and sometimes the problems can be all of the thing you mentioned, coaching included. For whatever reason these players aren’t responding to the coaches as well as they should be it appears.
I think we would all agree the personnel could probably use an upgrade as well. While the coaching staff all talked about the vast amount of depth, if it isn’t full of talented players, then depth means nothing. Just because a guy can play and technically knows the playbook doesn’t mean he can perform it well. And if the depth is so good, why are players who aren’t performing well not being replaced? If Evan Smith and Kevin Pamphile are neck in neck as far as talent level, why hasn’t one of them replaced J.R. Sweezy yet as the other guard?
And how long will this team trust Donovan Smith to protect who they believe is their franchise quarterback? I get the potential thing with Smith, but again at what point do you say enough is enough? Yes, he is serviceable, but after two and a half years, there just hasn’t been a lot of growth and development from Smith.
I will agree with Dirk Koetter who likes to say, if it were a simple answer, we would fix it. I don’t know there is anything simple about it, but I have always been a firm believer, in at any level of football, the team that controls the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, will usually win the game.
Question: Who has out performed their expectations for the season?
Answer: In my opinion it is easily linebacker Kendell Beckwith. We were all pretty much scratching our heads when the selection came down on draft night. A linebacker, coming off an ACL injury just six months prior, and you are trading up to select him? With Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander already on the roster? Not many expected him to even be ready for the preseason games, much less the start of training camp. Yet Beckwith made an outstanding recovery and was the Bucs leading tackler coming into the Jets game. On top of the medical, he has been the best rookie on the field as well, although safety Justin Evans has played well too.
Question: Will this win over the Jets be enough to spark the defense to pull off a run like last year, or is the just a super bad Jets team that made a bad def. look good?
Answer: The jobs of a number of coaches and players depends on it. No doubt the Jets are not a juggernaut of offensive firepower, however the Bucs defense has looked bad against some equally bad offenses over the last couple of years. It was great to see the defensive line, who has been beaten up – physically and by the media and fans – get things going. Whatever was spoken prior to, and during the game worked somewhat. We saw passion and pride on Sunday.
Fans can accept losing to a degree, as long as they see guys fighting and clawing. I don’t know that we can say we saw that over the first eight games all the time. But words and players-only meetings can only go so far. Whatever Mike Smith and his staff came up with scheme and game plan wise needs to be continued. Sometimes you just need to simplify things. Maybe that was part of the change on Sunday. But again, whatever it was, hopefully continues moving forward.
Question: t’s gonna be now two years Winston hasn’t had a run game to aid him and take some pressure off him. How much of the OL and RB will be shaken up to ensure Jameis has a run game to rely on next year?
Answer: I suppose it all depends on how the rest of the season plays out. If the losing continues and the Bucs ownership cleans house, expect to see a lot of new faces next season. Especially across the offensive line. But even at running back as well. I find it unlikely the Bucs bring Martin back at over $6 million dollars next year unless his production greatly increases. The debate will rage on the remainder of the season if the running game continues to struggle, is it the line or the backs? I think that will sort itself out though over the next seven games.
There is no doubt Koetter’s offense, really any team’s offense, needs a running game threat to maximize the production of the passing game. If you can see it, and I can see it, then you can bet management and the coaches know it as well. Things can’t continue the way they are.
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, the beach and family time.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@example.com