It is Monday and that means another Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your questions that readers submitted via Twitter using #PRMailbag.

Question: Provided the Bucs have a top 5 pick, what position do you think they use it on? Can we draft an offensive play caller? No? Darn.

Answer: They don’t need to draft a play caller, just write a big enough check to find one. Or perhaps the next coach is already an experienced play caller? Or maybe, if the current play caller can survive, but he gives up the responsibility to someone else. As Scott Reynolds pointed out in his Fab 5 trying to handle all of the responsibilities of being a head coach, while also calling plays isn’t an easy task, and one that is difficult to transition to. as few have succeeded.

As far as drafting, I think you take the best available. I don’t know that any position should be off the table with a Top 5 pick. Well maybe kicker. But seriously, this team could use an explosive running back (Saquon Barkley), a pass rusher (Bradley Chubb) or even an offensive lineman (Mike McGlinchey). Either way it has to be an impact player, and can’t be bust.

Question: I know the voices seeking Jon Gruden as the next Bucs head coach are out there. If you had your choice between Gruden and Harbaugh who do you think will be the best coach?

Answer: That is a great question. My initial thought is Gruden all day. But trying to rekindle magic is never easy. I mean I dated a girl once through part of high school and we broke up for a year and decided to date again, and it was nothing like it was a year earlier. Great person, in fact she was even more attractive, but what we thought would be an easy transition back to where we left things, was just off. It was different. The romanticized vision we had of how it would be just didn’t pan out. The fantasy was better than the reality.

If the Glazers do in fact make a change from Koetter, the next choice has to be based completely on football and not history. I think you interview Gruden as if this was his first job interview and you know nothing of him. He didn’t leave on good terms and there was bad blood. And he wasn’t the most liked coach by some of the players by the time he was fired. However, one thing I like when we talked to Gruden during his Ring of Honor press conference back in August was what appeared to be genuine regret in some of the relationships he had with his players. He’d like a chance to redeem himself in that area for sure. In addition to not developing a young quarterback. He sees Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Cam Brate and others and he must be salivating at the opportunity to coach those players if he makes the decision to return and if he is offered the job.

Harbaugh obviously isn’t the most popular pick of the two with fans most likely, but probably is the safest. He just wins wherever he goes. He has a proven track record and hasn’t been out of the game for nearly 10 years like Gruden. Either one would be fine with me, although it isn’t even determined that the Glazers make a change.

Question: If we were to sit Jameis, can we activate Ryan Griffin and see what he can do?

Answer: Well the first part of your question was answered earlier on Monday when Koetter announced that Griffin would be coming off of injured reserve and the team’s No. 2 quarterback this week against the Jets. But I think you play Fitzpatrick until you are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, then perhaps see what Griffin can do. The Bucs would like to see what Griffin does under center with a first team offense in a meaningful game, but at the same time this staff and perhaps front office is also trying to survive a shakeup. They need wins.

Question: Rank the impact of the following yoyo changes on Bucs losing: Marpet to center, Baker, DJax Sweezy, Ward, loss of Russell Shepard and Hard Knocks.

Answer: Of those listed the only ones I would attribute to any regression this season are losing top motivator rah-rah guy in Shepard and maybe a little on Hard Knocks. Shepard was a fire starter before games, something Gerald McCoy has tried to do a little, and of course Jameis Winston. But the players loved Shepard’s pregame speeches before they came out onto the field. And the Hard Knocks things is debatable. Maybe the team played too much to the cameras, maybe they missed out on some bonding behind the scenes that normally would have taken place without the distraction, but all of that is negligible in my opinion.

I believe the players and coaches share the blame equally. The players aren’t executing very well and the coaches aren’t always putting them in the best position to succeed. At the end of the day it is still about which team has the best plan going into a game, and which teams performs it the best. All the other stuff, while it can contribute somewhat, are basically just excuses.


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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for 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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 protected]


  1. I love Barkley. Dudes a playmaker. That sa8d, if this team drafts another “offensive weapon” before addressing the trenches, I’m gonna flip a dam table.


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    • Perfectly said.

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    • That’s funny Slober

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  2. Before all the media hype of Winston being a local hero going to a Fl. school ,Gruden said on national tv …Why would the bucs draft Winston over M.M. since M.M. was the better qb prospect being more accurate ,faster and a better athlete . So I don’t think Gruden will be head coach ,but i hope i am wrong!.. How about Gruden for Gm?

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    • GM Gruden? Do you realize that under Gruden, this team had the absolute worst draft in the team’s history with his hand-picked GM? This is probably an even dumber idea than hiring him as head coach.

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  3. Question: If the first question is about the 2018 NFL Draft, why is former GM Jason Licht pictured?

    Oh, the season isn’t over and we don’t have a picture of the new GM yet. Sorry, answered my own question.

    Thanks Mark!

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    • Agree dev: J Licht has had one good draft of course picking #1 in every round does not hurt. If we look at the D line and O line only 1 first rd. Pick GMcCoy and that was 8 or more yrs. ago. IMO Defense and Offense starts up Front as we have seen a average QB looks like a great QB when he has 5 sec. to find a receiver. The O line is made up of UDFA and 2nd. To 5th round picks Ali Marpet is a very good player IMO the rest are average at best.

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  4. I’m standing up for Meathead. There are far too many fans that forgot what a truly empty cupboard looks like. This team has talent, but no chemistry. I personally think that Meathead did a good job with the grocery shopping, but I’m not sure I like what the chef is Koecking.

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    • 1. Meathead had a lot to do with Koetter being the head coach in the first place, as he is the one who made the recommendation to ownership. My Lovie Smith Bucs impersonation consists of: “Et tu Meathead?”
      2. Meathead has a worse winning percentage than “cupboard is bare” Mark Dominik.
      3. Meathead has done plenty of bad things beyond the all-time stinker of a pick in Roberto Aguayo namely:
      A. Failure to draft/acquire pass rushers B. Failure to develop solid pass protectors helped by cutting Donald Penn in 2014 and replacing him with garbage at LT C. Abysmal failure at kicker cutting Barth and Murray and replacing them garbage (Brindza, Aguayo, Folk) until returning to Murray while losing games in between.

      Then you have the tire fire of 2014 free agency (McCown, Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson) which resulted in the league worst 2-14 record in 2014. You have the travesty of the 2016 NFL draft which helped dampen the 2017 NFL season as those players would have been counted on for bigger roles instead of being a below average corner, DE on IR and kicker out of the league.

      Just for fun we have the Charles Sims pick over Devonta Freeman and two pro bowl quality guards in Gabe Jackson and Trai Turner when guard was a pressing need and RB at the time was not which resulted in burning a 4th round pick for one good and one bad year of Logan Mankins.

      P.S. Meathead was unable to properly structure a restricted free agent tender correctly for George Johnson costing the Bucs a 5th round pick.

      P.P.S. Despite his starter being suspended for the first 3 games of the season and on a non guaranteed and expensive deal Meathead largely ignored the best RB class of the past decade in 2017 (Fournette, McCaffery, Cook, Mixon, Hunt, Kumara, Jones) until he managed to take a player in the 5th in Jeremy McNichols who famously, and on HBO no less, chose to be on another teams practice squad rather than his own.

      P.P.P.S Did I mention Meathead’s record is worse than Dominik’s and Koetter was his choice at HC?

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      • Can I vote this twice?

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  5. So Mark, you’re willing to recommend Gruden despite his mediocre record and his putrid draft history with his own hand-picked GM? That’s the guy you’d be OK with? Sorry, this is the dumbest idea I’ve heard, and I still haven’t figured out why you’re pimping it. You guys are pretending you’re “reporting” it, but you guys are pushing this idea as if it makes sense. It makes ZERO sense. No more draft destruction. Gruden and Allen were horrible with personnel… Oh, and by the way, what was Gruden’s record with us after the Superbowl year? It’s under .500… And if you take away the 11-5 year which was totally smoke and mirrors (they were not a good team), it’s even worse. By the time Gruden and Allen left, the roster was decimated because they failed miserably at building it up with young talent. Gruden is totally overrated.

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    • Gru/Allen was not a good combo. But Gru/McKay, although combustible hit HR after HR in 2002 FA. That was the combo that brought you Keenan McCardell, Joe Jurevicious, Dilger/Dudley, Pittman, Oben and Spires in a single offseason. It was the single greatest free agent haul in Buccaneer history and would rank among the best free agent hauls of most teams histories given it transformed the passing offense into a top 15 unit and allowed for the Bucs to be one of the least turnover prone teams in the league and roll through the playoffs (31-6, 27-10, 48-10) en route to a Lombardi.

      While no one is proclaiming Gruden a master of personnel, even an offensive guru needs talent, and 2002 was a year where the team acquired enough to finally be a watchable offense with players that he had a say in bringing in.

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    • The whole time Gruden was here there were salary cap limitations. At first because what they sacrificed to get him and then because the owners wouldn’t let them use all the cap space we had. In one of those years the Bucs had to pay fine for being below the cap floor.

      Gruden was fired for not firing Bruce Allen. While NFL team structures vary the GM is over the coaches even when they don’t functionally operate that way. So it’s easy to see Gruden’s issue with being asked to fire his boss, that’s ownership’s job. This is how we found out firsthand the Glazer boys were more spoiled rich children than men.

      I’m typically against turning to the past for leadership solutions but Gruden wasn’t fired for his coaching and results. I’m confident he could work his magic with the offensive tools we have. I wouldn’t expect him to be thrilled with Winston but he would work with him. The DC would be the wildcard but that’s easier to fill than HC. I have no doubt Gruden would make an impact day one. He’s just a vastly superior play caller alone, knows how to manage clock and a better coach that is easier for players to respect. Will there be a better choice, quite possibly but I think Gruden is safer than most.

      Our next GM needs to be someone big on full integration of analytics. We uses analytics but they don’t have the deciding vote on who we chose and they should. The most successful teams league fully embrace them because they are the best predictor of future performance.

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  6. Also don’t forget all the draft choices we had to give up to get Gruden in the first place. Who knows how things might have turned out if Gru, and Allen had those picks to work with. I’ve seen enough of Licht. When he’s fired everyone talking head will point to his trading up for a kicker in the second round, that’s how he’ll be remembered.

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    • Licht risked it, and he lost his biscuit.

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  7. The talk over Gruden coming back is just resurrecting the ridiculous Gruden haters from way back … the same guys who hated that Dungy got fired and blamed Gruden for it ever after and never shut up. Unfortunately,the weak-minded Glazer boys listened to the Gruden haters and fired the most successful head coach the franchise ever had.

    It is so stupid listening to the Gruden haters today who claim that Gruden hired the GM – uhhh, no, the Glazers hired the GM ..or that Gruden ran the draft … uhhh, no,the GM ran the draft with Gruden’s input, which is how it always works when you have separate GMs and head coaches … or that Grudn had strained relationships with player … uhh, the last two head coaches had great relationships with their players, and it resulted in 2-14 three years ago and on its way to somewhere between 2 and 4 wins this year.

    But the Gruden haters will go on hating Gruden … it’s what they do. Maybe this time the Glazer boys will ignore them.

    It’s possible that there is a better head coaching candidate out there than Jon Gruden, and if so, the Glazers should hire him. But if not, and Gruden is the best available, I’ll flat out guarantee he will greatly out-coach the four jokers who replaced him.

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    • Why do you assume if someone objects to Gruden, you classify it as a HATER? That’s a major problem in our country right now because so many assume one is a hater if they disagree with their position. Love, not hate, brother.. It’s been 15 years since the Superbowl and 9 years since Gruden has coached. Many of his ideas won’t work now. I grant you he is a coach at heart. I would focus on a very seasoned GM before looking at any coaching selection. Now let’s focus on the Bucs-Jets game. We actually have a chance to win. With a little more OL and DL effort, we can win. Go Bucs!

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      • Gruden haters is what they are. They were born the instant Gruden was hired and never let up. They are obviously still around today judging by the comments posted here on this site.

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        • naplesfan; that’s being narrow minded and surprised you feel that way. Yes they didn’t care for Gruden as the coach. That’s their opinion; however, Gruden was up and down as a coach and I believe the Glazers wanted to go another way; no different than when Dungy was let go. I myself thought we gave up way too much and Al Davis got us on that one. We got a Superbowl which I loved, but it hurt us badly in the next two drafts and finally some of us at that point supported moving on past Gruden.

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          • The difference between Dungy’s firing and Gruden’s firing was entirely on who did the firing … Malcolm, or his incompetent sons, makes a huge difference. One firing bought us the franchise’s only Super Bowl, three division championships, and four winning seasons out of seven. The two non-winning seasons immediately after the SB win were due to overpriced vets that could not be kept under the salary cap – an artifact of poor salary cap management by Rich McKay, and losing both first and second round draft picks for two successive seasons, which Gruden had no hand in agreeing to.

            The following four seasons produced two division championships and three winning seasons. The last season Gruden coached it was a fantastic season that cratered after his defensive coordinator literally quit the team for the last month of the season to go work for his lame-assed son, Lane Kiffen, at Tennessee.

            But the dedicated tribe of Gruden haters back then, and still today, blamed that incredibly on Gruden.

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      • I AM NOT a Gruden hater!
        To hire him as the next Buc coach probably will not get the same results.IMO keep Koetter and get a proven O. Coordinator. The Team Owners need to stop replacing Head Coaches every 2 years. This is Koetter’s first NFL H.C. gig Bill Bel. was not to good with the Browns, Jason Garret had a couple of ruff years in Dallas and there are others. So keep KOETTER at least one more year .

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        • Fun fact: Old Greybeard Jon Gruden at 54 years of age is younger than “new to NFL head coaching” Dirk Koetter by 4 years.

          Funny how early success makes you forget that Gruden was the youngest HC in NFL when he was at Oakland and that Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none Dirk Koetter has toiled around high school college and pro coaching before he finally got his shot. Unfortunately it’s not quite turned out like it did for Bruce Arians.

          Also, if all we need to do is give these first time head coaches more time to grow then why aren’t NFL teams lining up to hire former first-timers Raheem Morris or Greg Schiano to lead their clubs??

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          • R. Morris was a cheap hire team owners never planned to keep him but he went 10 and 6 with 1 fa signing a punter.
            G Schiano was a small time collage coach and did not know the difference of how to handle NFL players. Also last time I checked Schiano was not coaching anywhere!


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    • I don’t hate Gruden. But to claim he wasn’t responsible for the draft misses one major point. Gruden handpicked Bruce Allen. Of course the Glazers hired him, but Allen was the guy Gruden wanted. Why? Because Allen was not a personnel guy, he was a management guy. This made Gruden the de facto head of personnel. So he and Allen together were responsible for the worst drafts in team history.

      Except for the Superbowl year, Gruden’s Bucs teams were extremely mediocre. Overall winning percentage was under .500. Mix in a 4-12 year which would’ve gotten other coaches fired.

      I don’t hate Gruden, I just think he’s highly overrated and he’s not the answer for this franchise. Going back to him would be good for nothing but nostalgia. ANd that isn’t even accounting for the fact that he hasn’t coached in 10 years.

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      • The drafts were not bad as you make them out to be. No first and second round picks for two years – totally not on Gruden. Cadillac Williams was a super success – injuries happen any body. The results on the field were the very best this franchise has ever seen, by far. So what exactly is there to complain about?

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        • Cadillac Williams was not a “super success”… Even in his supposedly awesome rookie year, he averaged less than 4 yards a carry. He was a very average RB.

          His drafts were the worst. Go back and look. THe worst drafts in Bucs history. Dexter Jackson? Passed on Aaron Rodgers when they needed a QB.

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          • “Offensive Rookie of the Year” is somehow not a super success?

            What does he have to do, bring world peace to be a super success? SMH

            23 NFL teams passed on Aaron Rodgers … try again

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        • I don’t care if Carnell was OROY … His per carry average was below 4.0 and he was an average back at best. Outside of Davin Joseph, name some Gruden draft successes…

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          • Gruden never drafted anybody. If you don’t care about winning Offensive Rookie of the Year, then you’re not paying attention.

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        • Gruden hand-picked his GM. Allen was not a personnel guy. When you pick your GM, you take responsibility for the failure.

          And no, ROY awards don’t mean much if you’re a mediocre player the rest of your career. Once again, Cadillac didn’t even average 4.0 yards per carry his rookie year. Anything less than 4 means you’re either a short-yardage back, or you’re a very mediocre overall RB.

          Gruden and his staff developed exactly ZERO young players. Guys like Hump and Brate probably would’ve been thrown out in favor of broken down vets.

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          • Balderdash! You’re just a garden variety Grudn hater … done with you.

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  8. As much as I like him, unless he brings a top notch DC with him I struggle to see how Gruden would be a good pick if Koetter goes.

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  9. Horse, why do assume Gruden hasn’t evolved since he left the sideline? He still goes to his office most days at 4 A.M. to watch film, he has to, it’s his job. Just because he hasn’t coached doesn’t mean he hasn’t kept up with the game. I read somewhere that he believes the old Tampa 2 won’t work in todays NFL, I think he’d hire a 3-4 D.C. his second time around. I doubt if he’d pull out the old west coast offense play book also. I watched him call the game last night, and he picked apart what was going on. The guy knows football, and if he learned from past mistakes he could be even better the second time around. I’d take him back in a heartbeat.

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    • I hear you and I see your points.

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  10. I hate to say I told you so, But I told you so. We passed on DEs, and Corners, and we have a washed out QB filling in for our dinged Superstar. All those Offensive weapons going to waste, and now we will be talking about regime change yet again. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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