Each Monday PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers reader submitted Bucs-related questions and comments about the team. You can also have your question answered by submitting on Twitter using #PRMailbag.
Question: Why do you believe a lot of so called experts are giving the edge to Marcus Mariota over Jameis Winston to be elite? Ridiculous!
Answer: Well there is still some negative Winston bias left over from his college days. Maybe some of the national guys, who haven’t gotten to know Winston other than what they read a few years back, are still holding some of that stuff against him. And that is fine, they are entitled to their opinion on his character I suppose. On the field, it is a legitimate debate. Depending on the different formulas they use to determine performance and such, I can see where a few may still prefer Mariota over Winston. And 12-15 years from now they actually could be correct. But to say either is better than the other at this point is really kind of silly. Both have have outstanding starts to their career. Both with some successes and both with some things that must be polished. I will say, Mariota has done better than I expected coming from the system he ran at Oregon. He really is a talented player and I wish him the best. But I wouldn’t trade Winston for really anyone else in the league at this point. His upside is still untapped and when you add in all of the intangibles, I am excited to see where he is able to take this franchise. To me the debate will be determined by the Super Bowl wins they lead their respective teams to when their careers are all said and done. My money is on Winston.
Question: What happens if the Ali Marpet to center experiment doesn’t go well yet J.R. Sweezy and Kevin Pamphile are having outstanding camps?
Answer: If the Marpet to center experiment doesn’t go well, some people in the Bucs organization will be questioning their evaluation skills. And I say that because, since even before he was drafted, some have seen Marpet being a better NFL center than guard. And he has been pretty outstanding at guard, therefore that is saying a lot about expectations. But if the worst case scenario, as you spelled out, were to happen, then it is Joe Hawley or Evan Smith back to center and Marpet, Pamphile and Sweezy left to battle it out for the final two spots. The Bucs want their five best linemen on the field, and no one has a job based on draft status or last season’s performance. So it will be a battle all camp and preseason to see who emerges, although I suspect, if everyone stay healthy, it goes as planned with Marpet at center, Sweezy and Pamphile at guard, and Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson at the tackles.
Question: Going into training camp, is Justin Evans expecting a starting role? Should he?
Answer: Not he, nor anyone, should expect a starting role. Okay, well maybe Jameis Winston, but my point is, Evans is a long way from being ready to even get in the rotation, much less be a starter in training camp. First of all he is a rookie, trying to transition to a fairly difficult position in the NFL. Secondly, he missed a ton of the offseason workouts due to an undisclosed injury. It didn’t appear to be serious, however, there is only so much you can learn from the sidelines. And lastly, there are three players with a ton of NFL experience ahead of him on the depth chart. The Bucs didn’t draft Evans to be a career backup, and they hope to see him in the starting lineup one of these days, but they won’t rush him just because of his draft status.
Question: Attending my first training camp practice next weekend. What can I expect? Any tips or advice?
Answer: Hydrate! Seriously even though the practices are in the morning it is very hot and very humid. I would suggest starting the hydration process a couple days before. I am not trying to scare you. It’s not like you will be out on the field running routes and losing fluids, but it will help you feel better throughout the day. Personally I prefer to sit up in the stands as high as possible. There is a media area for us, but it is in the end zone and the view isn’t great. I would recommend getting there early so you can score a good sideline seat. If you want autographs, I would recommend moving down to the lower levels as practice is winding down. There will be a ton of people there so be patient. There are no guarantees of autographs but the players do come over to the stands following practice for a few minutes. Bring a camera, or cell phone, wear your Bucs gear and cheer loud. Mostly just go and have fun. I know for a fact the players do appreciate the fans coming out to support them.
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 question to Mark; if Marpet is injured, do you really accept Hawley or Smith would be the answer as past history with the Bucs doesn’t show it? At this point I’m more incline to pick up an older Center as our backup. What’s your thoughts Mark?
I think they would have to be. If there were ant=y good centers floating around teams would have snapped them up. Trust me, Smith or Hawley get cut during camp, it wouldn’t take 24 hours before they were snapped up. The Hawley signing a couple years ago was unique and fortunate for the Bucs. Finding a guy on the street that late in the season is rare. Plus both of these guys have worked with Jameis before. You ideally want your quarterback to have some familiarity with the guy who he gets to know intimately 70 plays a game if you get my drift.
The Winston/Mariota debate is definitely a legit debate at this point…this coming from a staunch Jameis supporter who wanted nothing to do with Mariota. He had a stretch of play last season that was more impressive than anything Jameis has done so far, but he also had a nice complement of weapons around him and a great o-line.
That said, some worries about Mariota have held true…that he could be injury prone and he would fumble a lot.
Of course I would still take Jameis going forward…doesn’t seem like a stretch at this point though that these two could face off in the Super Bowl one day…wouldn’t that be something.
So far, by comparison, Mariota’s fumbles are more than offset by Winston’s INTs. Mariota has lost 30 turnovers in his 2 seasons, while Winston has 41. As far as fumbles specifically, Mariota has 11 fumbles lost, Winston 8 lost; while Winston has thrown 33 INTS to Mariota’s 19.
Both need to work on their deep passes, but Mariota, overall, has shown much better passing accuracy, while Jameis has nearly 2000 more yards. And, Mariota has missed 5 games to injury, while Winston has yet to miss a single start. Mariota has over 200 more yards rushing, but Winston has (surprisingly) almost double as many rushing TDs through 2 seasons.
Way too early in their careers to say whether one is ‘better’ than the other. It will come down to which one adapts to NFL defenses better in coming years, and which one performs better in his respective offensive system. For this year, at least, Winston has the more talented receiver corps, while Mariota has enjoyed a more consistent ground game and offensive line. That, too, may change if the Bucs ground game gets back to 2015 standards and stays there.
Winston has and had much better receiving targets than Mariota. If I were picking which one has the best chance of being a MVP, I would take Mariota. But which will have a longer career, Winston.
The real question is which one will be willing to take less on their 2nd contract. That is the one that will be the one that has the best chance of winning a Super Bowl.
A team cannot win a Super Bowl without a good QB, but most of the good QBs, take up so much of the salary cap, it leaves the team with too many holes. Look at all the QB since 2013 (Flacco & Wilson on 1st contract, Brady never paid as a top 10 QB, Peyton Manning had to take a pay cut).
Mark ..I think main job of qb is to be accurate which M.M. is much better at so are you playing your school fave ? saying you would take Winston over anyone ,don’t you think Carr and Prescott are the best newer qb’s in the league ?
There tangibles and intangibles that separate QB’s. MM has some great tangibles but is injury prone. The fact that Jameis has 2k more yards does not say MM is better. From an intangible side, there is no comparison. Jameis brings much more to the field from a leadership and “presence”. He has that “IT” factor that I think MM is completely missing.
Excellent assessment JP414. Mariota really benefited last year with a much improved running attack much like Jameis did when he was a rookie.
I don’t worry to much about Winston’s INT numbers because as I have pointed out here many times in the past, 3 or 4 were the results of the receiver letting the ball clang off his hands or by running the wrong.route.
Another 3 or 4 were desperation throws at the end of the halves or games that were meaningless but show up in the INT stats. If you take those INT’s away, Winston’s INT number would be more like 10 or 12 which is very acceptable.
Still, Winston has to learn how to dump the ball off to a back or just simply throw it away. To many times he still reverts to his college days of trying to force the ball into one particular player, that one being Mike Evans.
Once he starts doing that, his INT’s will drop even more and his completion average will rise.
Thanks, drnneast. I wouldn’t put too much stock in Winston drastically reducing his INTs, though. It’s in his nature to go for the big throw, and that pattern always leads a QB into higher INTs. He’s an excellent and fiery on-field leader, with a killer instinct to go for the opponents’ jugular, which will lead to some exciting, game-winning plays, but also occasionally some back-breaking turnovers. A lot of people compare Winston to Ben Roethlisberger, but I think a more accurate comparison might be to Brett Favre, while Mariota might be more of an Aaron Rodgers type QB.
As for INTs caused by his receivers, video of Winston’s games (this season and last), that does happen (Winston throws hard sometimes). But, you also see defensive players who have dropped numerous INTs, so if those guys were better at squeezing the ball, Winston could easily have more INTs than his stats show.
I think Bucs fans need to accept that, although he should get better with the improved receiving talent and running game, he will still have a much higher tendency to throw TDs than QBs like Mariota or Rodgers. And he will likely never be as accurate with his passing as Mariota or Rodgers. That doesn’t mean he won’t be as good as Mariota, or even Rodgers. I think Winston has it in him to be more successful than Favre (who played in 2 Super Bowls), but the help he gets from the other 52 players on the roster will have a lot of impact on that. Players like Winston (and Favre before him) need a good defense to make up for the added turnovers, but with a good defense, a QB with Winston’s skill can definitely win the big games.
Damn, no edit function. On that last post, I typed ‘ …he will still have a much higher tendency to throw TDs than QBs like Mariota or Rodgers.’
What I meant to type, of course, was, ‘…he will still have a much higher tendency to throw INTs than QBs like Mariota or Rodgers.’
As Mark wrote, the ultimate judgment for these two talented and dedicated players will be the number of rings they collect. Yes, there are the purist folks who always inject that team wins is not supposed to be a quarterback stat. Sorry, but that is obviously not true. Quarterbacks are measured in wins, but more especially, championships.
That’s why the two best all time QBs are Brady and Montana, and not Favre, Brees, Marino, and others with better stat lines and league passing records. Really, everybody knows that.
So both Winston and Mariota have yet to make it to rhe playoffs, neither has a divisional or conference championship to their names Both are likely future champions, at least in the opinions of some, but likely a minority, of NFL fans today.
So arguments over who is better today, or who will be better in the future are rather pointless today. Until at least one of these young men brings home a championship, neither has produced anything that matters much. I personally believe both will deliver many championships, and it will be fun to watch them do that for many years to come.
“And 12-15 years from now they actually could be correct.” 12-15 years from now Winston will be in the league, but Mariota will be retired due to numerous injuries because of his style of play.
There’s nothing about Mariota’s “style of play” that makes him injury prone. A humongous defensive lineman landed full force on his leg and broke it. Stuff happens in football that has zero to do with “style of play” but simply physics. If Jameis Winston had the same monster lineman land full force on his lower leg, his leg would have snapped too.
Mariota does not run the ball very much (84 rush attempts vs. 821 pass attempts), because he’s become a mostly pocket passer in the NFL. Sure, that is different than the offensive gameplan he played under at Oregon – but he had no control over design of that offense, just as Jameis had no control over design of the offense at FSU.
In fact, Jameis has run the ball more in two seasons of play so far (107 rush attempts vs. 1104 pass attempts) than Mariota (94 carries) … buy he also had more total plays allowing for games missed due to injury.
Their styles of play are very different, more to do with passing style than rushing, but neither one is more prone to injury.
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