It’s Monday which means it is time for another Mailbag where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your Twitter submitted questions.
Question: What are the odds that Koetter is asked to relinquish play calling, and/or Mike Smith is let go before season end?
Answer: Zero chance any of those things happen midseason in my opinion. Perhaps if Koetter makes it to 2018 it happens. He seriously flirted with the idea before this season began, and I think it could be part of what is required if he survives into next year. And then news came last night that Todd Monken could be in line to take over for Dan Mullen at Mississippi State as their head coach. If it isn’t Monken, who else could do it? Bajakian? Perhaps.
I also don’t believe Smith is going anywhere until the end of the season. Koetter is loyal and I find it highly unlikely he would make that change. It would reek of desperation in my opinion, and not be a great look to the Glazers. This staff is all in on 2017, and they are going all in to try and save their jobs. I don’t think Koetter will throw anyone under the bus.
Question: If we lose to Green Bay this coming Sunday, do you think we see Ryan Griffin at home starting against Detroit the following week?
Answer: I think that is a distinct possibility. Trevor Sikkema brought up the possibility in the 2-Point Conversion column on Sunday and I agree. Ryan Fitzpatrick more than likely isn’t coming back in 2018 and the Bucs need to see what they have in Griffin, who has never played in a regular season NFL game. And with the possibility that Jameis Winston possibly missing time next year depending on the outcome of the NFL investigation into the alleged Uber driver groping, it is even more critical to find out where Griffin is in his development.
Of course, this all may be someone else’s problem if the Bucs don’t win a few more games, as head coach Dirk Koetter and even general manager Jason Licht could be let go following the season.
Question: Will Jameis Winston play again this season? How do we change this losing culture?
Answer: Selfishly, if I am a Bucs fan, I am certainly hoping so. Winston is the future (maybe) and fans want to see him develop. Every snap of every game he can play, should make him a better quarterback in the future. Plus, despite Fitzpatrick playing turnover free football for the second straight week, Winston still gives the Bucs the best chance to win football games.
As far as the culture goes, this team will have a losing culture until it doesn’t. Meaning the only way to change a losing culture is to win. I know that may should silly, but it really is a simple fact. Other than short of bringing Bill Belichick to Tampa Bay as head coach, there is no quick fix, snap-of-the-finger solution to the problem. Changing it from a losing to winning culture is a season-to-season thing. The Bucs were 9-7 in 2016, yet will have to win out to even match last season’s record. Last year this team it could be argued had a winning culture. This year? We will see how it ends. Every year is different and until the Bucs get all the pieces in place, the long-term culture of the team will most likely stay the same.
Question: Why on earth do they wait to get tight end O.J. Howard involved?! He’s a matchup nightmare. Isn’t the reason they drafted him was to get that TE nightmare going, hasn’t happened and that’s on coaching.
Answer: It was something I was screaming at the television on Sunday afternoon, and something Trevor Sikkema was mumbling under his breath in the press box in Atlanta. And if you listened closely, you could hear the frustration of thousands of Bucs fans throughout Tampa Bay on Sunday as well.
I get that there is a game plan, and I also understand that opposing defensive coordinators are also paid to stop the other team’s offense. But you have two tight ends capable of making an impact. And when you haven’t scored a first half offensive touchdown in seven games, it is almost criminal to not find a way to get the ball in the hands of Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard. Zero targets until the third quarter? That is most certainly on the coaching staff. Again, if you only have one tight end, and a poor receiving corps, I could see how a defense could neutralize one tight end. But that isn’t the case with the Bucs. Having two serious receiving threats at tight end opens up all kind of possibilities within the playbook. Koetter must find a way to get both way more involved and a lot earlier in games.