It is Monday, and that means PewterReport.com answers your questions about the Bucs in an all new Monday Mailbag. You can have your question answered by submitting it on Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question: Has DT Chris Baker met expectations? Lots of wolf tickets and shenanigans but not seen any advertised pass rush yet.
Answer: Without being in the meeting rooms it is hard to say how close to expectations he has come performance wise. I did speak to someone prior to the Jaguars game who said the Bucs have been pleased overall. The team did a lot of homework on him prior to signing him and aren’t disappointed or have any regrets at this point. I think with veteran players it is better to judge a player’s performance once the regular season begins.
As far as the pass rush goes, I wouldn’t put that on Baker anyway. Sure they like his ability to collapse the pocket, while also being stout in the middle against the run, but they didn’t sign him necessarily to be a sack master. If he can notch four or five they will take it, but his signing was more to get bigger and strengthen the team up the middle.
But yes, there are genuine concerns from PewterReport.com about the lack of pass rush from the starters in the preseason. Only one of the team’s regular rotation of defensive lineman has had a sack, and that came from Noah Spence last Saturday. Three of the five total sacks in the preseason have come from blitzes.
Question: What’s the Ryan Griffin situation? When he’s healthy again does he jump in as the number 2? Fitzpatrick looks bad.
Answer: Unfortunately with Griffin going down so early in the first preseason game, it is nearly impossible to say he would be a better option, even when healthy, over Fitzpatrick. There are just too may unanswered questions right now. The one thing we do know is, Fitzpatrick hasn’t looked great in the preseason. The staff does like Fitzpatrick because of his experience in the league. There is little he hasn’t seen a 100 times before, and he and Winston have a good relationship. He is almost like another coach out there for Winston. Which is a good thing. I have maintained the season is over if Winston goes down, regardless if it is Fitzpatrick or Griffin having to come in for an extended period of time.
Question: Is there any trade value for Charles Sims? Why doesn’t he return kicks?
Answer: I don’t know there is much out there as far as trade value. Perhaps a seventh round pick, but why trade him for that? His benefit to the team is much more valuable that what a late round pick might bring in my opinion. He is still the best third down back on the roster, and is still explosive and shifty in the open field. His problem more than anything is the inability to stay healthy. Like Martin, when he has, he has been productive. If he is healthy he has carved out a nice niche in the NFL, and while it isn’t being a three-down back, it is still a valuable one. Count me as a big fan of Sims who I think will be very involved with the offense this season. IF he manages to stay on the field.
Question: Do you think Bucs kicker & kick returner are currently on the roster?
Answer: I do think they are. The Cleveland game provided a bit of clarity, especially at the kicker position. Nick Folk bounced back after a shaky outing in Jacksonville last week and gave a general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter a break from the bottle of Tums they have both been chewing on every time a kicker walked out on the field.
As far as a punt returner I would expect to still see Adam Humphries out there against the Dolphins in 13 days, however, Bernard Reedy gave the coaches a glimpse of things in case they choose to keep Humphries on the sidelines in the regular season after a third down defensive stop.
Kickoff returner is most likely going to be Ryan Smith to start the season. But it might be by committee as it was last season, unless someone establishes themselves.