It is a new year and with it comes a new Bucs Monday Mailbag where we answer your Twitter offered questions. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: After seeing the Eagles win the Super Bowl, what’s more important, having the “horses” or the coaching?
Answer: Well, the easy answer is both. And it is true, but watching the Super Bowl last night I was angry at times seeing how both the Patriots and Eagles were ultra-aggressive throughout the game with the offensive play-calling. And that was coaching. The Eagles defense was tremendous throughout the playoffs, yet Doug Pederson didn’t call the game on offense as if the Eagles just needed 24 points and they would be fine. Every opportunity to gain another yard, first down and point was taken. That mentality is the reason why Philadelphia won. And they did need every single first down, yard and point to win.
To go for it from the Eagles’ own 45-yard line on fourth-and-1 with five minutes left was not a Dirk Koetter play call. Koetter kicks the ball there and hopes his defense can make a stop. But not the Eagles. They knew better than to give it back to New England quarterback Tom Brady in that situation.
And the Patriots were equally aggressive in their style. They saw early that they weren’t matching up well, and knew they needed every yard, first down and point they could muster. Both teams left their playbook in a heaping pile of flames, thoroughly exhausted and used up after that game as the Eagles and the Patriots combined for over 1,100 yards of offense. As it should be every week, in my opinion.
Yes, having the horses is important, but getting the absolute most out of every one of them is more important. Both the Eagles and Patriots did that last night from an offensive standpoint.
Question: Do you think Licht will go all in this year and spend money to try to save his job or has the failure of the 2014 free agent class affected him from taking risk?
Answer: I think Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht goes all in on the players he thinks can help the Bucs win in 2018, but also beyond. I don’t think Licht is the type of person who will attack free agency out of desperation. I think, even if he believes he may not be here past 2018, he will still look at free agency with an eye towards the long-term stability of the franchise. He knows if things fall into place this year, then he will earn a new contract from the Glazers, and doesn’t want to potentially screw up the salary cap or overpay out of desperation for a short-term gain.
Now, when it comes to pass rushers, he will have to overpay most likely. The handful of guys that could help improve the Bucs’ pass rush will command crazy numbers.
As far as the 2014 free agent class being a bust, no, that won’t deter him from being a player in 2018. It can’t. And as far as we believe and have been told, the Glazers are on board with paying what is necessary to make this a better football team. The Glazers have also been supportive in cutting guys, even after paying them a ton of money, as the Bucs did in 2014. It was most likely not an easy conversation to have with the owners after a first year as general manager, but they were quite supportive in his decision to move on from left tackle Anthony Collins, defensive end Michael Johnson and quarterback Josh McCown after just one year.
Question: Post Super Bowl … do you feel more irritated with the cringing of expectations? It just speaks volumes to an organization to have a GM say that. Beaten like a dead horse but when the organization literally blames the players…. it’s frustrating.
Answer: I am giving Bucs general manager Jason Licht a bit of a pass on those comments from his interview with the Tampa Bay Times. I can see it from your point of view however, and understand your frustration. Licht clarified those comments to Scott Reynolds the next day. Here is the link to that article, which I am not sure if you saw them or not – or if that makes you understand things more.
I don’t imagine New England head coach Bill Belichick has any problems with any expectations placed on his team. And expectations come with the territory in the NFL each year. Even when, as Licht was suggesting, the talk is about new players coming in and making an immediate impact.
The fact is, DeSean Jackson was a proven NFL receiver being coached by a proven NFL coordinator in Dirk Koetter. While it might have been far-fetched that Jackson would be an instant Pro Bowler in his first season, it isn’t unfair for the fans and organization to expect much better than we saw from the offense as a whole in 2017. This was Jameis Winston’s third season in the league, and third under Koetter. While a shoulder injury contributed to the disappointment, Tampa Bay was 2-1 under backup Ryan Griffin, not 0-3.
I don’t believe Licht was throwing his players under the bus by his comments. Perhaps he just didn’t explain them as well as he wanted to. But make no mistake, the players bear a good deal of the blame for the 5-11 season.
Question: Do you think the Bucs can be in the playoff mix in 2018? I’m thinking it will take more than one good draft and not liking the schedule next fall.
Answer: Right now, I don’t think so. The good news is, there is plenty of time to improve this roster. And the Bucs will need every day until September to do so if they hope to be able to compete with the Eagles, Saints, Rams and Vikings of the NFC. As I mentioned above, I was impressed with the coaching styles and game plans of both teams on Sunday, and it was clear to see hoe different they are from Tampa Bay’s scheme, style and philosophy.
I know everyone is bent on revamping the defense, and that is important. But I think Sunday’s Super Bowl has proven something I have mentioned on the Pewter Nation Podcast a few times over the last year – you better score points and lots of them if you want to win championships. I think the old saying about “defense wins championships” isn’t necessarily a thing of the past, but it isn’t the most important key to hoisting Lombardi Trophies anymore. Look at the last several Super Bowls. 44, 34, 24, 28, 43 and 34. Those were the points from the winning team.