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The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: Do you think we see Lavonte David blitzing more this year? I know he’s an ILB, but it seems like his blitzing ability gets underutilized or is he just not getting home anymore?

Answer: I agree that his blitzing ability gets underutilized. Looking back to 2013 and 2016, those were two seasons that he shined as a pass rusher, getting seven sacks and five sacks. Last year it was just 1.5 sacks. But it isn’t due to any drop-off in ability, instead what he is asked to do.

In 2013 Greg Schiano, despite all his faults, recognized what he had in David, who was entering his second year in the league and second under Schiano. He and defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan knew they had a star with David and built the defense around him. Part of the scheme revolved around sending David to get pressure on the quarterback. It worked, despite a defense that didn’t give David a lot of help. In 2013 David racked up 130 tackles, seven sacks, five interceptions to go along with 10 pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Just a monster season.

Bucs LB Lavonte David creamsicle

Bucs LB Lavonte David – Photo by: USA Today

As time has gone on – along with several different coordinators and schemes – David’s game has evolved and what he is asked to do has changed. In Todd Bowles’ scheme, David’s ability to drop into coverage, combined with Devin White’s success at rushing the passer, has changed David’s role. If David is getting asked to blitz that could leave a gaping hole in Bowles’ defense depending on the offense’s play call.

David likely doesn’t approach those flashy sack numbers he had in 2013 and 2016, but that doesn’t make him less of a player. In fact, what he is asked to do as a run and pass defender might make him even more valuable to the team than he was in previous years.

Question: Which Bucs players do you think will be Pro Bowlers or All-Pros? Because it seems after a team wins a Super Bowl the next year a lot of players get that recognition.

Answer: Well, David is an obvious one. The fact that David was overlooked – again – is really a crime. How, after the career he has had, has Davis only been to one Pro Bowl? It is beyond me, although he was first-team All-Pro in 2013 and second team All-Pro last season and in 2016. Honestly being named an All-Pro is more of an honor than the Pro Bowl.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

Along with David on the defensive side, expect Devin White to garner some accolades in 2021. Jason Pierre-Paul made the Pro Bowl last season, and if he puts upon similar numbers in 2021 he could make it again. Fellow pass rusher Shaq Barrett wants to get back to being the NFL sack leader after a bit of a down year statistically in 2020. He appears focused on regaining some of that 2019 magic where he led the league in sacks and was a Pro Bowler. I also think cornerback Carlton Davis is someone to watch as well.

Offensively, we always have to think quarterback Tom Brady will be in that mix, especially with a full offseason in the system and a year under his belt working with the Bucs talented corps of pass catchers. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown, if they can play a full 17-game schedule, should be on the Pro Bowl radar. Rob Gronkowski, too.

Lastly, center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet and tackle Tristan Wirfs all were Pro Bowl-worthy last season. Especially Jensen and Wirfs, as Marpet missed a few games due to injury. I would expect them to get the attention they deserve if they can duplicate their performance from last year.

Question: Now that there is only three preseason games, will the third game still be the one that most starters play in?

Answer: I don’t believe head coach Bruce Arians has announced how he plans to handle the new, shortened preseason, but I suspect that the third game will be the final tuneup for starters as it has traditionally been. I would like to see it happen that way. I always thought it was kind of strange to have the starters play the first half of the third preseason game, then basically sit the second half and the entire following week. To me it is kind of like when a team clinches a playoff berth early, then sits their starters in the final week of the regular season. And if they are the top seed, then it is a two-week layoff that in my mind creates a loss of momentum.

Bucs HC Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady

Bucs HC Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The problem with playing starters a lot in the final preseason game is that cuts down on younger players who need those live-game reps. Who knows if former Bucs receiver Adam Humphries even makes the roster without his performance in the fourth preseason game back in 2015 against the Dolphins. And there are tons of examples from around the league of players who played themselves onto a roster and – later stardom– with a long TD run, or an interception in that final preseason game.

Question: Any free agent veterans out there that could be a fit for the Bucs?

Answer: There could be, and likely the Bucs make a few roster moves as camp gets underway. But in terms of big name, high-profile players, it is doubtful. First, there just aren’t a ton of impact players walking the streets right now. Second, there are very few that could impact the current Bucs roster.

Bucs G.M. Jason Licht and co-chairman Bryan Glazer

Bucs G.M. Jason Licht and co-chairman Bryan Glazer – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

This roster is pretty stacked. While injuries in preseason could dictate the need to add bodies, no one jumps off the available free agents list. Really the only area where the roster could improve depth would be at outside linebacker and maybe cornerback. Of course, most of the league’s teams could say the same thing.

But the Bucs have high hopes for the development of the younger players on their current roster. The available players they could bring in don’t look like major upgrades or good fits for what the team wants to do.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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2 months ago

Since there’s only 3 preseason games the starters won’t play the third game at all. Just like they never played the 4th preseason game unless you’re a bubble player vet. My guess is they’ll play a quarter, or a half in the first game, play the first half of the 2nd game, start the 3rd quarter maybe, then not play at all in the final preseason game. Pretty much what they’ve done in the past.

Reply to  surferdudes
2 months ago

Hard to say since uncharted waters with only 3, but I would think they will play most in third game. They may only have series or two in first game. Maybe quarter or so second and thinking they play half third game.
Especially since we kick off season Thursday night and have less time than others. Don’t see them sitting 3rd game like you said.

Last edited 2 months ago by fredster
Reply to  surferdudes
2 months ago

I agree most starters will not play in the third game, especially for a veteran team like the Bucs. The teams all showed last year they don’t need any preseason games.

2 months ago

I have been wondering about who gets picked to the Pro Bowl after a Super Bowl run, too. Here is my list. If Brady has a year like last year, definitely him. IF Rojo goes over 1000 yards, maybe him too. Evans should be a shoo-in if he gets his 8th 1000 yard season. Godwin too. If Marpet doesn’t get in he was robbed. Tristan Wirfs too. On Defense? Devin White has to be a choice. Levante David also. Carlton Davis is a candidate, Maybe Antoine Winfield if he doesn’t have a sophomore slump. I am pulling for Vita Vea… Read more »

Reply to  seat26
2 months ago

Thinking the Bucs will have 13 pro-bowl players is a bit much, it would break the record.

Reply to  seat26
2 months ago

Most of these are very unlikely IMO. For Evans, no, 1000 yards won’t do it, because Pro Bowl voting typically is season-based. When voting for the 2021 PB, nobody cares about seasons past, except in positions where there aren’t really mainstream stats to measure production, i.e. OL. To make the PB in either conference, a WR pretty much needs to be at or near the top of the league in a major receiving category, and needs a lot of yards, something on track for the 1,200+ range at the time of most voting. RoJo, who I really like, is not… Read more »

2 months ago

I agree that attaining All-Pro is a higher recognition than making the Pro Bowl. That is where I will keep my eyes open for the final results.
I also expect that more of our guys will either be Pro Bowlers or in the discussion this year because of the enhanced notoriety that goes with winning the Lombardi Trophy.
Go Bucs!!!

2 months ago

It still irritates me that Brady was snubbed from the probowl last year for Kyler freakin Murray. Brady threw 14 more TD passes, 600 more passing yards, 8 points higher in rating plus he’s Tom Brady and its this kids second year and he’s never done anything. The selection would have given Brady the record for most pro-bowls, breaking the current 5 way tie at the top with 14 selections. I think Brady may have an even better year in him this year to break the tie.

Reply to  aredsoxfan1
2 months ago

It’s important to remember the timing of voting. Brady finished with an excellent statistical season – 4633 yards, 40 TD, 12 INT, 65.7% completions, 7.6 Y/A. But it was less special when voting was taking place Nov 17 – Dec 17. Brady accumulated 12 of those TDs, and only had one INT, in the last four games of the season. Voting ended just four days after the first of that 4 game stretch. So prior to that, he was sitting on 3300 yards, 28 TDs, 11 INT, 63.1% completions, and 6.9 Y/A, which are honestly pretty pedestrian numbers. He came… Read more »

Reply to  toofamiliar17
2 months ago

if we’re going to minimize Brady’s last 4 games, due to facing bad pass defenses, shouldn’t we apply the same logic with Murray(who had arguably the easiest pass defense stretch for any QB last season from weeks 3-10: Det, Car, NYJ, Dal, Sea, Mia, Buf, Sea)?

Reply to  Dave
2 months ago

I didn’t really minimize anything, just mentioned the context of that performance. For the season as a whole, I agree that Brady deserved to make it over Murray. My real point, which I thought was clear, I was that the last 4 games didn’t really count in Pro Bowl voting for Brady because voting gets cut off December 17. If you want to talk about it though, that stretch isn’t THAT easy. You’ve got two games against teams in the top third of the league in defensive DVOA (MIA and BUF), three against middle third games (SEA twice and NYJ),… Read more »

2 months ago

Brady, Evans, Gronk, Wirfs, Shaq, Vea and either David or White.

2 months ago

I suspect it will be preseason game # 2 in which the regulars will play the most. Game # 3 will be the game in which the youngsters and fringe players will get their final chance. I’ve never thought the preseason games were the deciding factor that determined whether or not a youngster made the team, the Practice Squad or just cast off. Even though we fans put more stock into them and perhaps even the results; those games are really just a glorified practice session. It’s the OTA’s, Mini Camps, 30+ practice sessions and the classroom work that have… Read more »

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