Each week PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your submitted questions about the Bucs. You can have your question answered by asking on Twitter using the #PRMailbag hashtag. Here are this week’s five questions.

Question: How important was it for Mike Smith to return to the Bucs as defensive coordinator?

Answer: I have said it a number of times this offseason, but getting Smith back for the next couple years may have been the Bucs’ best offseason move they made – even more so than adding O.J. Howard, or free agent DeSean Jackson.

Had Smith left, you would have had to believe the Bucs would have promoted from within to try and keep some sort of continuity. But there was no guarantee of that. So, take linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy for instance. Now, all of a sudden they have another defensive coordinator? How many does that make? For McCoy it would have been five in seven years and for David it would have been his fourth. Even if the scheme stayed relatively the same, and you would have to believe it would, it would still be conveyed by a different messenger, who undoubtably would have changes or tweaked a few things.

Smith talked about his decision to return and some things he wants to see from his 2017 version of the the Bucs defense last week during a press conference at One Buc.

“Well, I’m very excited about being here. I think it’s absolutely the best decision for me and my family. Working with Dirk [Koetter] is a joy, working with these guys is really fun. I’m excited about what we’ve got to improve on and get better at. It was really a decision that my family and I made, that we want to be here.

“I think – first thing is I’ve got to do a better job with the players. We had some growth this year, we had some times that probably didn’t look like we wanted it to look like. The first thing is for me personally, is I’ve got to do a better job getting these guys prepared. I do think that as we’ve started this offseason program, the knowledge that our players have, what they’ve been able to retain from last season to this season has been very good. We’re not starting at ‘2+2 is 4,’ we’re into calculus. That’s a good thing for us as a coaching staff and as a football team. We’re able to install a lot quicker, we’re going to be able to put in a few more wrinkles and hopefully it’ll be effective. The big thing for us is we know these guys now. We know what they’re capable of doing and we’ve also added, I think, some guys that are going to come in and help us at all three levels.”

Things are coming together from a talent and coaching standpoint for the Bucs this year, and I dread to think about what the loss of Smith to this defense might have done to stunt the overall development of the franchise. Fortunately, I don’t have to.

Question: With the addition of Robert McClain who do you think will win the slot CB spot? There is good depth there.

Answer: It is way too early to tell who ends up winning the job as the slot corner, but I do agree there is some solid depth at that position. Jude Adjei-Barimah, Javien Elliot and McClain will battle and the competition should make all three better in the long run. The team liked what they saw from Elliot in relief of Adjei-Barimah late last season, but it doesn’t mean the former FSU walk-on starts off as the starter. Like many positions, it will be a wide open competition that begins when the veterans get back on the field later this month.

If forced to guess I would say Adjei-Barimah is the favorite in the slot, with Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves on the outside. But that is just speculation and not based on any inside scoop.

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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 [email protected]
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surferdudes
5 years ago

Smith let his L.B.’s blitz more towards season’s end. I’m all for that. It sounds to me Spence will play some downs at Sam this year in a 4 3, and 3 4 alignments.

Bschucher
Bschucher
5 years ago

Thanks for the good work

XpfcWintergreen
XpfcWintergreen
5 years ago

I feel also that we had a great off-season because of the free agent acquisitions, a strong (and lucky*) draft and the retention of Smith as DC.

I am hoping that Smith will be content to get a Superbowl ring here with the Bucs before he moves on to an opportunity to get one as a head coach. This was a vague feeling I came away with after watching a video of a recent press briefing from Smith. Who knows?

_____
Go Bucs!!!!

* The football gods smiled on us indeed!

Horse
Horse
5 years ago

QB backup is my biggest concern; after that I would say Center. Even if Howard had an injury ,I don’t think TE is the biggest concern.

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

Not sure why center is making you fret Horse. Marpet, Smith and Hawley are all on the roster plus your pride and joy, former Buc Ben Gottschalk is always available if the Bucs want him back.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

I get why he said TE. He’s not saying that an injury would make the position overall a big weakness. But with the drafting of Howard, we clearly want to run a lot of 2 TE sets out of which we can run or pass with equal threat. Losing either of those guys would clearly eliminate that threat. If we largely build our offense around that concept this season, then losing either of Howard or Brate would be a big hurt. Maybe not the most individually devastating answer, but it’s thoughtful, and I get his point.

owlykat
owlykat
Reply to  Horse
5 years ago

You are absolutely right, Horse. We have a Canadian TE who is also a Y TE. He is the same size and weight as Howard and is as fast as Brate. If Humphries goes down he can take over Humphries duties almost as well as Humphries. He also could star in a two TE Offense paired with Humphries that would scare our opponents to death.

Julian Jordan
Julian Jordan
5 years ago

Bucs won’t become a 3-4 team but they won’t be a 4-3 team either. They’ll likely be multiple. Either way, buckle your seat belts.

I predict Baker goes down for 8 weeks. I do why? I just do.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Julian Jordan
5 years ago

That does seem to be a recent Bucs specialty. Carl Nicks and JR Sweezy were major free agent acquisitions who immediately went down with major injuries. Hopefully Baker is more Vincent Jackson than he is those guys.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
5 years ago

I usually think the mailbags fall a bit flat, but I like this one. There were a couple duds, but there were also some good questions and some better, insightful answers. Nice job, Mark.