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.

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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, 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]

16 COMMENTS

  1. Props to Doug Peterson, and his aggressive approach to football. We played the Patriots not to lose, and lost. Koetter continued to rely on an unreliable kicker to win that game, had he shown more courage maybe we win. That’s not him tho, all our struggles in the redzone, we never saw a play with the imagination Peterson showed with that pass to Foles, on fourth down! Watching the NFL awards show had to be a kick in the gut to Buc fans. Not only did the Saints have the defensive rookie of the year, they had the offensive rookie of the year as we know was a PR best bet. That’s great drafting, and way to coach up rookies, is it any wonder why they finished in first place, and us in last? Watching the soft spoken, but guy who really carries a big stick Arron Donald win defensive player of the year also hurt. Many of us, PR included had him going to the Bucs, but Licht decided a receiver was more important to building a team then the best defensive tackle in the draft. Don’t give me the B.S. we already had McCoy, we should all know by now you can’t have to many good defensive players. You build from the front back. I’m not sure Licht, or Koetter have learned from their failures to change their ways moving forward.

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    • The point about Arron Donald is not a small one. You go the the Buc’s web site right now and the have a survey question, “Who should the Buc’s draft with the 7th pick?” but when you go to the survey they have positions listed. I have read and listened to a number of retired GM’s including HOF GM Bill Polian, they all say you need to draft the best player on your board regardless of their position. It seems we have always picked by position and this is where it has led us too. Pick the best player on the board, if it is a DT so be it, but if it is a running back or a offensive linemen so be it take the most talented player regardless of position. It is what the successful franchises do year after year. NE, Pitt, GB, all use that philosophy.

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  2. I watched 2 very well coached teams last night! The 4th down call with FOLES catching the pass was something our coach would mu never call. I hope the Bucs start playing this way.

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  3. Those two teams were in the Superbowl, because they played to win. The Bucs have wasted way too much time the last few years playing not to lose. When you’re afraid of screwing up, you’re doomed to failure way too much of the time.
    And, don’t even get me started on the prevent defense.

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  4. I thought it was a great game and I agree with most everything surferdudes touched on. A couple of observations however, Did anyone notice how calm and collected Foles and Brady were. No happy feet, no forced throws, no interceptions, only one sack, and a willingness to throw the ball away instead of a desperate attempt at stupidity. I hope Jameis was watching because thats how you run an offense. Also agree on aggressiveness observation. Both teams on both sides of the ball were leaving it on the field. I truly think this is something the Buc’s need to focus on. Get rid of the ping pong tables and from day one of training camp play like it is your last paycheck.

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    • I agree one hundred percent. Well said.

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    • I agree. But, also, neither Foles nor Brady just finished year 3 of their careers either. And everyone else on their teams did their jobs, as well. (When was the last time that happened at One Buc?)

      I noticed something else. NO stupid, drive-killing, big-play-coming-back penalties by their O-lines. Jameis needs to improve; we all know that. But, it’s much more than just Jameis, which is why we had 5 wins.

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      • Bothof the Olines were holding a lot, I felt the Pats even more than the Eagles, but the refs swallowed the flags and “let them play!'” I sometimes do not like that because it is not how the teams got there. Call the fowls exactly like in the regular season, do not “let them play.” That usually gives one team an advantage: see the Pats Oline. I don’t think the Pats Oline is talented enough to hold off the Eagle Dline, but the Eagle Oline was up to the task at keeping the Pat Dline off of Foles. To comment on the above reply as to Horses or Coaches, I’ll say this. The coaches can call as aggressive of a game as they want, but if you do not have the horses to run those plays, it doesn’t matter. Likewise, if you have the horses but call a very bad game, you are also probably going to lose!!

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  5. If we could have an offense as aggresive and fluid as the Eagles, then it wouldn’t matter how bad out D-lne is. Just score every possession.

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    • “If” If magic wand was only possible Bucs could score more than their opponents
      Problem is Tampa only scored 335 Points last year only 8 teams scored less they are in bottom 1/3 in NFL with the offence with one of the worst defences allowed 385 points.
      the playoffs are only a pipedream for this team.
      Change from top to bottom clean house or settle into the losing.

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  6. Doug Peterson operated one of the strongest offences in NFL as Offence coordinator averaging 400 Points a season
    Dirk Koetter operated one of the worst offices in NFL as office coordinator scoring average 309 points, One of these coaches was a winner as a player and assistant coach. The other was not, Bucs hired the one that was not a winner.
    Bucs have no interest in winning that why they hire loser coach. We watched several good coaches during playoffs none of them was considered by the Bucs. That should give you insight into next season, go ahead and pound the negatives I am used to it for speaking the truth.

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    • I understand your frustration, but it’s neither fair nor accurate that the “Bucs have no interest in winning.” Hindsight is always 20-20 or close. You have no more access to the truth than anyone else on this board. What you have is “opinion.” Part of the frustration of last year was that we believed we have enough good players to compete for a 10 win season or greater. Aside from injuries and a few disappointments that hasn’t changed. Let’s let the jury stay outt for awhile and see how this offseason progresses. The Superbowl revealed two good aggressive franchises, but it also revealed two flawed teams. Neither team had a sack until the last two minutes of the game, and players were running wide open all over the field. These teams showed that you’re never out of a game when you have a dominating OFFENSE in today’s NFL. Yet we are all talking about building a defense. Granted we need better defensive players, but a running back, an All-Pro guard, and another tackle could make this offense as good as what we saw last night.

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  7. I think Pederson did a great job coaching, but if you want to know why they are Super Bowl champs and the Bucs are picking top 10 in the draft, all you have to do is consider the fact that they won despite losing their QB, starting LT, and their starting MLB who took the defensive playcalls. Despite that, they still won the Super Bowl. If the Bucs had lost Winston, Kwon, and D. Smith, I don’t think the Bucs would beat many teams, let alone the Pats or the Vikings the week before. Koetter had one good year, one bad year, I am fine giving him another year. But if Licht doesn’t strengthen the roster from top to bottom, it would be foolish to expect much change.

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  8. Mark, do you really believe Winston wouldn’t have won the same two games Fitzpatrick won? Did you not see DL push from both teams? The Bucs biggest problem is pass rush and coaching play calling on both sides of our offense and defense.

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    • Agree that play calling left a lot to be desired this year. But I didn’t see any great pass rushing yesterday. The Eagles defense looked a lot like the Buccaneers with pass receivers running completely open most of the night. And the Patriots defensive personnel aren’t any better than ours. The teams with the best defense this year were home watching–the Jaguars, the Vikings, etc. Give me the capacity to score 30 points a game and I’ll give you a team that will win 10 or 11 games.

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  9. I can’t give Licht a pass especially when it comes to evaluating what talent on this team.Everybody bought into the holy grail 9-7 season.Our D-line and Cornerback position has to be the worst in the NFL.So sick of waiting for other teams free agent every offseason .We have no young up and coming players at these impact positions..we’re behind the 8 ball.Coaches didn’t get fired because of lack of talent on defense and that’s Licht fault!!!!He put stock in two DE’sThat was on IR going into the 2017 season and ended up releasing one and the other go back out on IR!!!!If we consistently looking into free agents every year than Licht isn’t doing a good job at drafting.I think there’s a difference between drafting good players and the right players!

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