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: Is Chris Baker A.K.A. Swaggy a poor man’s Warren Sapp? I think he’s going to add a lot to our pass rush as well as run defense. Thoughts?
Answer: Well I am not sure I would say poor man anything when describing Baker who signed a three-year, $15.75 million contract this offseason – I know what you meant by the way. I think there are a couple of similarities between the two players. First and foremost, both have a confident edginess to them on the field, and that is a good thing, in my opinion. I think defensive players need that type of attitude. Sapp has some of the most attitude I’ve ever seen, and from what we have been told, Baker possesses a lot of that as well.
Secondly, both are pretty talented players, however, Sapp is in a whole other class. Sapp was the best Bucs player I ever saw. Not many other Bucs held their teammates to such a high standard as Sapp did, and not just only on Sunday afternoons at 1 p.m. but also every day in practice.
With that said, I loved the signing of Baker and think he will have a big impact on the defense. It is clear the Bucs wanted to get bigger up front, and did just that with the signing of Baker and the drafting of Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. And you also make a case with the selection of Kendall Beckwith at linebacker who the Bucs see as possibly the stating strongside backer, but also backing up Kwon Alexander in the middle.
Question: If the Bengals shop Giovanni Bernard or Jeremy Hill are the Bucs interested? How about Tevin Coleman when he hits FA? Other options?
Answer: Certainly anything is possible, and all options are on the board. While many may believe the Bucs are in rebuilding mode, all teams are every season essentially. The organization is not looking three years down the road to be a playoff team. This team thinks they will be in 2017, and are also have aspirations to be even more this year. Will they? It will take tons of luck, good fortune, and players reaching their potential. But things are looking good on paper at least, to finally end the long ten-season playoff drought.
As far as the running backs go, I don’t see the Buccaneers as worried about the position as some in the media, or the fans are. They genuinely believe they can manufacture a solid running game with the current backs on the roster. And if Doug Martin comes back in Week 4, like the 2015 Doug Martin, then it is only a bonus.
If the running back group underperforms in 2017, you can bet that it will be a high priority in the offseason next year, and free agency is certainly a possibility to bring in talented players who can help this offense.
Question: Which position group has to improve the most for the BUCS to be successful this year. Safety or RB?
Answer: I believe improvement in production from both groups you mentioned are essential, but I would still dare to say, how far the Bucs jump will fall squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Jameis Winston. I am not complaining about Winston’s first two seasons in the NFL at all. I think he has done almost everything you would expect a quarterback to do in his first two seasons, and in some areas he has exceeded expectations. But this is a quarterback driven league and the days of winning Super Bowls with an average or mediocre quarterback is pretty much a distant memory. Sure there will be a team in the future that has a 2002 type Bucs defense, or a Ravens type group that carried their team to the Lombardi Trophy, but I believe it still takes outstanding quarterback play over a 16 game schedule to put a team in position to be Super Bowl champs.
With that said, I believe Winston is poised to take that next step. I think the organization realized they had a special talent, and went out and gave him enough weapons to succeed and win division titles, if not more, in the not-too-distant future. I believe it is up to Winston to perform at an even higher level moving forward, and I think he will.
Question: What position besides QB do you feel the Bucs could least afford an injury to a starter?
Answer: I think this question was brought up a few months back, but it is a good one, and one to revisit now that free agency and the draft are over. I polled the PewterReport.com staff to get their answers as well.
For me, the loss of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to injury would be devastating. While I like the Baker signing, I still see him most effective as lined up next to an outstanding three-technique, like McCoy. McCoy is, as of right now, the best pass rusher these team has. That isn’t to say that Noah Spence or Robert Ayers may have better numbers in 2017, I just think from a pure pass rushing standpoint, McCoy is the best on the roster at this point.
Trevor Sikkema went with wide receiver saying, losing a Mike Evans or a DeSean Jackson would be nearly impossible to replace due to the type of players they are, and the unique skill sets they offer, even if there is depth down the line.
Scott Reynolds quickly went with cornerback, noting the depth behind Grimes and McClain would leave the Bucs starting untested Ryan Smith and second-year player Vernon Hargreaves.
Question: Rumor Bucs tried to trade up toward top of 2nd round. Can you confirm if true & whether Budda Baker or someone else was target?
Answer: We can’t confirm with 100 percent certainty that the Bucs actually tried to move back up, but we believe the team did explore the option. Jason Licht has said many times, all teams like to gauge what it would take to move up, or move down, just in case there is someone there that they covet very highly, or if they have a second round grade on a player most teams have as a lower round guy. If that explanation makes sense. As far as a player they had interest in? Dalvin Cook was definitely a player that was under strong consideration at No. 19 overall (PewterReport now knows that to be true). With that said, the Bucs had no choice really but to take O.J. Howard at no. 19 as they, like many teams had him as a Top 10 talent. but I can confirm they are extremely please with Howard and with second rounder Justin Evans.
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]
My greatest concern this year is Jameis Winston. When was the last time we had a Starting QB play 3 seasons with relative consistency. While I am very impressed with the work we’ve done in free agency and the draft additions my binoculars are going to be focused on #3. He is the catalyst that can pull all this potential into a playoff and possibly beyond team. If he can remain healthy and continue to mature there is no stopping this train. Go Bic’s……..
Martinii Winston should be at the bottom of the concern list…when was the last time we had a QB be as productive two years in a row…answer the last two seasons…don’t see that train stopping for many years!!
I think the scheme is a big part of why folks are so worried about winston, and it sounds like changes are afoot. Last year this was an offense with no running game threat and with only one potential mismatch on the field. With little threat from the run game, Winston either needed to hold the ball while Evans got slightly open amid the inevitable double\triple coverage, or he needed to find brate\humphries in the swarm of bodies parked near the line of scrimmage. As a result, Winston and the line caught flack for the hits he took, JW forced more passes than you’d like, and he was clearly pressing to make something happen at times.
i think the diversified attack gives winston a chance to look more decisive by finding his mismatches quickly and by creating hesitation in the defense. Winston had no opportunity to look like a surgeon his first 2 years, because if teams didn’t screw up covering mike evans he just had to wait and hope someone else could find some daylight. Now he can know presnap which 2 guys the defense is committing itself 2 and throw to the 3rd, 4th, 5th option with confidence that a play can be made
JW3 is the least of my concerns. The reason is that he is doing everything he can to take us to the mountain top and beyond. But, the Bucs are going as far as he takes us.
Yeah I didn’t mean for it to come across as a major concern for me either. I was just pointing out his play will affect the team more than any other position in my opinion. If he plays at an 11-5 level, the team will be 11-5. If he plays at a 6-10 level, so will the results be.
Going to come down to the play of the OL. If they can protect Winston, he’ll delivery bigly!
Actually, of all the positions, I think the Bucs are deeper now at both DL and WR with the offseason additions they made.
Every team has a lack of depth at one position or another, even the Patriots. The difference is when one of their key players drop out, there always seem to be another waiting in the wings as is the case with Gronkowski and Bennett.
I would think our DB position is probably the thinnest, but word is that Ryan Smith did a fantastic job covering Mike Evans as a scout team player last year so who knows. Hope we don’t have to find out.
BTW, a lot of people talk about Grimes’ age, but the Redskins had a player named Darrell Green who played at a high level and started up into his 40s. 19 seasons to be exact. In other words, he was covering WR’s when a lot of his team mates were starting pre school. Go figure.
I agree w/ Drd in terms of depth at DL and WRs- It would be more of an impact to lose Alexander or David at LB based on depth/experience
Injury concerns? Only that we have too many, as we did last season wherein we led the league in number of players on IR. Every team suffers injuries to key players every season. Quarterback is the most important player on the roster, but with Fitz, a proven 10 game a season winner as a starter backing up Jameis, we can survive JW going down.
But if we lose more than a couple key starters for more than a couple games, it gets tougher to put together a playoff/winning season.
O line is deeper this year but one or two keep injuries and things could get ugly. Agree losing Evans would be devastating. Can’t say losing Jackson would be he hasn’t even played yet.
Losing Ayers was huge and d like couldn’t pressure anyone last year but we are deeper there too. Still McCoy or Ayers or even young Spence would be huge impact.
I’m not saying anything negative about Winston here just couple opportunities that are obvious so blast me if you want here but Winston needs to improve in his 3rd year and I think he will. I love the kids attitude. Love his mobility and way he gets out of trouble. I love his toughness and that he hasn’t missed a game yet (Mariota) lol. I love he’s a leader on rthe team already and the others respect and follow him.
Ok The passing yards are great and tell one story but he has got to do two things IN my humble opinion to get us to next level of playoffs or deeper.
First and foremost his mechanics at time get lazy and his accuracy can be very bad. At times I cringe and have flashbacks of Freeman sailing balls over guy’s heads. Lol. Not comparing the two other than that so just calm down before you freak out. Lol. You can lecture me tell me I’m crazy whatever. It’s a fact though I’ve watched every game multiple times and accuracy is inconsistent and needs improvement. Yes having better weapons and better O line, and better run game were all needed for the young man. He needs to improve his accuracy especially on deep balls. What good is Jackson streaking past defenders on go route if he can’t hit him? Enough said. I feel like anytime you say Winston needs to improve something people freak out like he’s perfect. Guess so many years of having no franchise QB and we finally have ours. Yes he is a franchise QB and damn good one imo.
Second thing is pretty much every game he has played he comes out and he is too hyped up. His heart rate is probably off the charts. He has to calm down in the first few series. Teams that score first win more than teams that don’t. So many first possessions he struggled. I also blame Koetter for this. He should find ways to get him into the game and calm him down with easy high percentage throws.
Winston was my biggest concern last year as far as injury . QB is always the biggest concern as far as injury but I do think Fitz can come in and win few games. I don’t think he could play at high level a whole season though if it’s a bad injury to Winston. Fitz is too old and he’s quite inconsistent at times
Getting him was great move though I can’t imagine a better option for the money if we need him for game or two.
Both lines will determine how far the team goes. Our ability to stop the run sets us up for 3rd and long which gives us the ability to mix n match fresh pass rushers to harrass QBs. Running the ball gives us the ability to play action and then good luck stopping all of our weapons.
Much of the hype from the media and the fans has been directed to the offense so far this year and understandably so Mark. You have addressed many of the questions in a professional outline……nice job by the way! Having said that, I believe the projected success for 2017 is with a dominating defense not a high scoring offense. The running game has not been addressed by the Bucs and I think the fans are expecting too much from Jameis Winston. This is, after all, only his third year and getting comfortable with new players on offense takes time. The defense will carry us through the NFC South with Ryan, Breese and Newton to control…not the offense. Just my viewpoint.
No question, the Bus need the 2016 post bye week defense to show up week 1 this year.
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