The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. 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 PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Jameis Winston’s second big issue is his tendency to try to make the big play or throw intermediate passes downfield on third-and- short rather than just choosing the higher probability pass and picking up a first down. Is the coaching staff being proactive with him on this issue?
Answer: I can’t answer how proactive they are being on this issue, not with any definitive authority. However, every single aspect – especially weaknesses – are analyzed thoroughly after the season. And if the team feels that is, in fact, a weakness, then I am sure it is being addressed. As stated a number of times, that competitive nature in Winston to make the big play at all times is a double-edged sword. There is a fine line between taking chances and playing it safe, and you don’t necessarily want to coach that out of Winston. You essentially don’t want to turn him into a Mike Glennon “Captain Checkdown” type of player.
The thing the staff loves about Winston is he never wants to give up on a play, but you also have to teach him he doesn’t have to make every throw every time. A punt isn’t the worst thing. So there is a battle that rages. You just have to hope at some point Winston will eventually figure out when to pull the trigger and when to click it back on safety, if that makes sense. Of course, this team probably doesn’t beat the Saints on the last drive of the game without that mentality from Winston.
I will say, and Scott Reynolds can attest to this, but one thing that does make me insane, and not just from Winston but many quarterbacks, is when you are across the 50-yard line in the opponent’s end of the field, and the quarterback does exactly what you mentioned in your question. Getting to around the other team’s 40-yard line doesn’t happen every drive and that position on the field needs to be treated more carefully. I hate, I mean despise, seeing the Bucs punt from the opponents 40-yard line or so. It is a complete waste of a drive and a chance to produce points. And if you punt and it goes in the end zone, you are only netting 20 yards. Those are the throws I would like to see Winston just pick up the first down. You can also pin some of that on Koetter as well though. I remember the road trip to Atlanta last season and the Bucs were fighting to get back in the game and it was third-and-short, and Koetter ran a play that basically had three vertical routes. I can’t remember if the Bucs made or missed the field goal, or if they went for it on fourth down and didn’t get it, but I do know it was a huge wasted opportunity. And of course it ended up being a loss.
Question: Which camp battles are you looking forward to the most? For me it is all about the second and third receiver spots.
Answer: I agree the wide receiver battles will be interesting, but I think the battle for the fifth receiver spot will be even more interesting than the battle between DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin. Justin Watson, Freddie Martino, Bobo Wilson and now even Bernard Reedy are all good receivers and each bring a little something different to the table. Certainly how they catch the ball and learn the playbook makes a difference, but the special teams aspect of it will also be fun to watch.
Other than that, how the cornerback battle ends up playing out will be a great camp battle to watch. I predicted early you will see Carlton Davis end up as the starter, but Ryan Smith and Vernon Hargreaves aren’t just handing him the job. All three have had their moments in OTAs so far and all look to be capable, at least at this point in the offseason.
We will see how it pans out when the real bullets start flying.
Question: Do you see Jason Licht’s entire 2018 draft class making the team? How many do you project get significant playing time year one?
Answer: History says no. So far none of his draft classes have all made the opening day roster, if my memory serves me correct. And that was on lesser talented teams that the one the Bucs have now. Obviously Vita Vea, Ronald Jones, M.J. Stewart, Carlton Davis and Alex Cappa are all essentially locks to make the team. After that there are some question marks. I think Justin Watson and Jordan Whitehead have a good chance, but Jack Cichy is a long shot, at least on paper, in my opinion. The Bucs’ linebacking depth is pretty strong, and Cichy is coming off a serious knee injury. But, you can’t count anyone out. Injuries to other players, a guy suddenly decides to walk away from football; there are several things that can open up roster spots. Plus, Cichy might just be a heck of a steal and just play himself right onto the roster.
As far as playing time, Vea and Jones, if they avoid injury, will get significant playing time, and either or both of Davis and Stewart will be on the field a lot as well. Depending on how the offensive line pans out as far as Sweezy and Benenoch at guard, you could see Cappa essentially get a redshirt year. But, like Cichy, Cappa could play so well the team has no choice but to get him playing time. It will be interesting to come back a year from now and read the answer to this question then.
Question: Which UDFA has the best chance of making this roster or do you see a few making the roster?
Answer: It is way too early to tell anything yet, but we do know that defensive backs Mark Myers and Gordon Igwebuike are two players that coaches have mentioned through the first part of the offseason. Myers has looked very good and doesn’t seem overwhelmed at all by the speed of the NFL, despite playing at tiny Southeastern in Lakeland. Same goes for Igwebuike, although the competition he faced at Northwestern was significantly better than what Myers played against.
And also keep an eye on Cole Boozer. Besides having the coolest name on the team (sounds like a ranch hand from Gunsmoke), Boozer is a mammoth-sized, fully grown man that can make shadows appear on the field when he blocks out the sun. How he responds to playing in pads against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Vinny Curry and others will go a long way in determining if he was undrafted for a reason or if he was one of those that slipped through the front office cracks.