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?
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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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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