The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our 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.

Question: The Bucs certainly need a rushing attack to help Jameis Winston. Do you foresee a proven veteran joining the team prior to training camp?

Answer: There is no doubt the threat of a solid ground attack will only help Jameis Winston and the offense. An effective running games makes defenses guess a little more, and when they creep up in the box to try to stop the ground game, Winston can go over the top with some deep shots against single coverage. This is something Bruce Arians likes to do in his offense, and part of what made players like Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer effective.

Some of Winston’s high interception numbers stem from playing in a one-dimensional offense as the Bucs have only had one 1,000-yard rusher play with him, and that was Doug Martin during his Pro Bowl season in 2015 – Winston’s rookie year. Without a legitimate threat of a running game, defenses could bring additional pressure, or even sit back in coverage and drop seven defenders when the Bucs had fallen behind, knowing that Tampa Bay would have to air it out 50 times to get back into games. And in the rare instances when the Bucs have the lead in the fourth quarter, an effective running game can help chew up the clock, limiting the opposing offenses’ time on the field and opportunities to score.

Bucs RBs Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber
Bucs RBs Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As far as adding a veteran running back, there just aren’t many good ones available to sign as of now, and throwing next year’s draft capital at the position via a trade doesn’t make a lot of sense. Add in the fact that Arians and his staff seem to genuinely believe in Peyton Barber and a revitalization of Ronald Jones’ career, and it doesn’t seem likely they’ll add a big name to the backfield to replace Shaun Wilson unless one comes available once camp cuts start happening. I don’t really see them making any major moves to upgrade the position.

Scott Reynolds tossed a couple potential running back acquisitions out there in his latest Fab 5, and you can read and see his rationale here. 

Question: When in the future do you expect the Bucs to sign the rest of the draft picks … should there be a worry at this point?

Answer: I think you could see the signings happen literally at any point. With the rookie salary cap scale agreed upon by the NFLPA and owners in the last CBA, the days of holdouts are essentially over. And with the release of Gerald McCoy and Mike Evans doing a restructure of his contract, the money to sign the remaining two unsigned draft picks – first-rounder Devin White and cornerback Jamel Dean – is now available. General manager Jason Licht and some inside the building have started their summer vacations so that might be a slight hold-up until the middle of next month, but it will happen, and could be announced as soon as this week.

Question: Everyone is hoping Vita Vea produces this year, but where do you see his mark being made with regards to tackles and sacks?

Answer: Vita Vea will be learning a different scheme from what he played last season, but the good news is, he played in a 3-4 defense while in college at Washington and isn’t completely unfamiliar with what defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers will be asking him to do.

Bucs DT Vita Vea - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs DT Vita Vea – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The big thing for Vea to do to have success in his sophomore campaign is to continue to play with the confidence he finished last season with. He was awfully tentative early on after coming back from his training camp calf injury, but once he caught fire, he was one of the top young defensive players in the NFC South, finishing with three sacks down the stretch, which matched the rookie numbers of Warren Sapp and Gerald McCoy interestingly enough.

As far as where he needs to be in 2019 from a production standpoint, it is hard to put a number on with the switch to this new defensive scheme. He finished last year with 28 tackles and three sacks in 13 games and if he can somehow double those numbers the team and fans would likely be thrilled. The may be too much to ask for a second-year player whose job it will be to take on the center and guard every play while trying to penetrate the A gap, but improvement of any kind would make the Buccaneers feel like they made the right decision in selecting Vea in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Question: Is it crazy to think the 2019 Bucs can have three, 1,000-yard pass catchers, especially after losing almost 1,400 yards in production from Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson?

Answer: Anything is possible, but three 1,000 receivers may be a little bit unrealistic in Tampa Bay. I think we all agree that Mike Evans, if healthy, will hit that mark in 2019 as he has done in each of his first five years in the league, and Chris Godwin has a chance to do that as well. Last year, Godwin had 842 yards and seven touchdowns on 59 catches. Godwin should be able to get to 1,000 yards receiving with more targets this year.

If new receiver Breshad Perriman can get in that 500-700-yard range, which might be a stretch considering he’s never had a 500-yard season in four years in the NFL, and tight end O.J. Howard get close to 800 yards then I think the Bucs offense will he humming on all cylinders.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin - Photo by: Cliff Welch.PR
Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch.PR

The Bucs are hoping they aren’t throwing as many passes as they have over the last two seasons, as that would mean the running game is more effective and also that the defense has improved and is doing a better job of keeping them in games. Plus, the running backs will get more pass receptions in Bruce Arians’ offense than we saw under Dirk Koetter, and we can’t forget tight end Cam Brate should get a decent number of targets as well.

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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]

21 COMMENTS

  1. The Bucs have had a historically bad defense, awful special teams and a poor running game, but repeatedly we hear(not from this site) that the problem is the Bucs QB.

    I have said it many times before. If the Bucs can have an average running game, average special teams and average defense this Bucs team will easily be a playoff team.

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  2. If the Bucs are serious about limiting Winston’s interceptions, then a better running game is a must.

    I do understand that perhaps right now is not the best time to find another running back and I know that Arians has said that he likes Barber and Jones, but we need more than a hope and a promise back there this year. I honestly hope that someone in the front office realizes this and is watching teams for signs that they are moving on from a serviceable back that we can pick up to add some depth. Looking at our current depth, admittedly as a fan, I’m not feeling much security that we are going to manage a competent running attack with the players currently on the roster. JMO.

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  3. I agree Wausa. I think Winston’s issues are as much because of the running attack and defense being bad as bad decisions. Want to manage those bad decisions, make them fewer by improving the areas on the team that lead to those decisions.

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  4. Do you think we could trade for a 49ers running back? They’ve got a plethora of rb’s. Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, or Matt Breida. Obviously Breida or Mostert would be best since they aren’t making big money. Thoughts?

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  5. Fortunately, adding a running back is one of the easier positions to quickly get up to speed in an offense. I believe there are several teams that have some players that they are holding on to hoping to get a draft pick before they are forced to let that player go.

    There is also a bit of gamesmanship at this time of the off season as well, if you acknowledge a weakness, other teams may hold on to a player that they have no plans for rather than cut that player and have you pick that player up for nothing. So, hopefully, the Bucs are just talking up their faith in their running backs because they have their eyes on a couple of players that they hope will be cut just before training camp.

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  6. I hope they don’t have three 1000 yard receivers because if they do, something went wrong and they likely will not be having a good season again. The rushing attack is the key question that won’t be answered until they play games. Then we find out if not taking much action on that front backfired or was the right idea.

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  7. Though it would be nice to have a Big Name RB back there, somebody still has to block for them. RB1 is far from this teams biggest issue, how about let’s petition BA for a Stud DE or RG. This team could benefit more from filling in those positions than RB. Having said that I would still like us to run the ball more, minimum 25 touches a game because BA’s system has a history of getting QB’s killed from poor protection schemes. Mark is right you can’t have Jamies throwing 50 passes a game, it’s a recipe for disaster.

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  8. Actually Wausa You here it on this site the QB is the issue too but that’s nit majority opinion. You either are not reasonable or just Winston hater to not see he hasn’t been the main issue and so many things were terrible to accurately gage his performance. Will he become the franchise QB we hope for? I think good chance but only time will tell.

    As far as Vea if he stays healthy I think he can have 5-6 sacks and be as effective rice as McCoy has been last few years for sure.

    As far as a RB again I say that’s not the main issue here. It always pitiful defense (abandoning run), pitiful O line play, etc. Barber is more than capable of over 1000 yards. If Jones steps it up and the O line actually creates some jokes and he can get say 600 or so and rest Barber some it could be a very effective run game here but again will depend more on this O line. I’m not sold they will be lot better but hope I’m wrong. It’s fact not opinion though if they suffer injuries on O line it’s thin and would probably derail any hopes of a winning season.

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  9. Meant create holes not jokes lol. Gotta love auto complete.

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  10. Running game or not, the strength of the Bucs offense is passing the football. If they try to run, run, run with Evans, Godwin, Brate, Howard and Perriman/Miller, on the team then I would expect another bad season. What is the point of having all those top shelf weapons if you aren’t going to use them 70% of the time???

    Winston needs to limit his dumb plays where he loses focus and his errant passes. He had the same problem in college so it’s unlikely they will coach it out of him, but shifting to a rush heavy attack doesn’t answer the question of his future as a franchise QB. He either gets better and crushes it with those weapons or he doesn’t and the Bucs move on.

    I think about it like this: If Andrew Luck, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Phillip Rivers had the Bucs weapons AND offensive line, there would be no doubt about the gameplan and it wouldn’t matter who the RB was.

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  11. Limiting turnovers this year for Winston is easy because the great Bruce Arians is going to fix him and he no longer has to worry about throwing the long ball to DeSean Jackson and he no longer has to look for Humphreys.
    He can focus in on Evans and eliminate is turnovers. The great Bruce Arians is going to fix the offensive line by making OJ Howard a blocker.
    They don’t need a running back obviously because they didn’t look for one or even try to get one. I would love to see the look on fredsters face when he sees this great Bruce Arians offense with Leftwich in charge this season. I’m still betting that Jameis Winston ends up a backup in Houston next year. CBS football talk thinks he goes to Miami as backup.

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  12. I think that the OL is the key to the Bucs having a successful season this year! Protection, protection, and more protection! The OL is highly paid and they need to perform like it! We don’t need Jameis to be the savior for us. He just needs to be the facilitator of getting the ball into his playmakers hands. With an improved defense and not being down 2 TDS every game I think this will change the dynamics of the offense and thus the likelihood that the Bucs can have a Wild Card challenging season… a fan can dream right?! Go Bucs!

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  13. Not running the football is exactly why the Patriots beat the Falcons in the Super Bowl. Not running the football is why the Saints lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. In this league you better have a balanced attack or you’re just going to be a team with a bunch of fantasy players.

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  14. All of those run & shoot coaches from the 90’s got fired for that throw it up and let’s see who can catch it first stuff. It didn’t work then and it don’t work now. Pound the Rock and when you get tired Pound it Harder. I love that we got our receivers and all but when you look at who’s winning in the NFL it’s the Patriots LeGarrette Blount – Eagles LeGarrette Blount – Patriots Sony Michel – Rams Todd Gurley – Seahawks when they had Marshawn Lynch – Broncos with CJ Anderson on & on & on. No NFL team that I have ever seen has won by simply throwing the football.

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  15. As far as the RB situation helping Winston become a better QB, just remember that his Comp% and QB Rating have all increased slightly each year even without a running game. His rookie season, when Doug Martin ran for over 1000 yds, wasn’t that great and it actually wasn’t much worse than his 2018 season. Then again, he was a rookie so mediocrity was expected. But c’mon, we’re coming up on year 5 and still talking about his development.

    I don’t believe his mistakes are from a lack of a running game, but rather a lack of good judgement. A good run game keeps a defense honest, but a bad pass is a bad pass no matter who’s running. I’ve said it before: Winston has all the raw talent to be a great QB, but he will never be one because he still thinks he can thread every needle, and his long ball is accurate only once in a great while. Accuracy didn’t matter so much in college so he was successful. Some of you seem to think that surrounding Winston with a great O-Line and a great RB room will solve his problems. Those same people also think that the reason he’s made so many mistakes is because he was playing under duress and needed to score a lot of points so he was forcing the ball into tight windows. I think if you check the history of when he made the mistakes, there is no set pattern that would indicate anything of the kind. They just happened. Because he’s Jameis. He can get us to the playoffs, but don’t expect a championship or even a division title with him at the helm. I love his energy and his work ethic. Kudos for that stuff. But please stop the hype train on Winston being “whispered” to greatness. Not going to happen. And yes, I will happily eat crow if Arians proves me wrong. But he won’t. Because he’s Jameis.

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  16. Fix the oline and barber will have a solid season for us.

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  17. Find a reliable placekicker and force a punt once in a while and Winston’s issues will be greatly reduced.

    @Buc Ass Bob: As a supposed Buccaneers fan, would you be happier if B.A. does in fact improve the team’s confidence enough that we reach the play-offs, Winston excels with a running game, a PK and a defense to support his efforts, the receiving corps, without Humphries and Jackson, is even better and Vita Vea makes the Pro Bowl with Suh an alternate orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, would you prefer none of that happens so you can thump your chest and wag your finger at Fredster and CGmaster?

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  18. IF Wiston is really a decent qb ,why did the nfl rate him towards the bottom of the league..Do you fans pay for season tkts and not see the not so accurate arm who can’t hit receivers in stride or has issues with fumbles? Year after year, it’s this year!! .. geez ,i hope Bucs have a good qb but NOT so far ….and yet the excuses continue..

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  19. Fixing the run game will not fix Winston’s game, but it will appear that way as he will make fewer passes which would hopefully result in fewer mistakes. Simple math, right? I’m not sure that’s considered fixing Winston. You’re just decreasing the probability of him making a mistake. Slight difference. All you’re doing is giving him less chances to fail. I hate telling people what to do. I’m not the professional in the room. BUT… if they can get into Winston’s head and convince him to throw the ball away instead of trying to thread the needle then maybe he’ll make fewer mistakes. Until then expect int’s no matter how many times he throws the ball, trailing or leading.

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  20. Jameis won not only a National Championship at FSU but also a Heisman Trophy too as the top college football player in the United States that year. Now the players he competed against may well be Pro Players now but some nay sayers believe he is only as good as his present rating as a QB in the NFL and it is irrelevant that the Bucs OL last year gave up more pressures on their QB than any other NFL Team. Yet you must know that QBs under pressure commit more turnovers than the same QBs commit without pressure. I have been a Buc Fan since the beginning of the franchise and I remember how many fans thought our QB Steve Young was a bust and were happy to see him leave in Free Agency to back up Joe Montana. But in Super Bowl 29 Steve Young threw six touchdown passes and won big and has ended up the 2d Greatest QB in 49er History. Look it up on Google. And that made the Bucs look like fools. The Bucs with Steve Young had a bad OL and Young had to run for his life frequently just like Jameis has had to do. Those who ignore history are DOOMED to repeat it. Instead of praising Jameis for his elusiveness and his best rating on 3rd downs last year in the NFL, the Jameis haters only want to talk about his character, turnovers, inaccurate deep throws, and bad red zone results (again because of a running game that scares no one in the red zone because of poor line blocking and it is easy to flood the end zone and thwart TDs). BA can turn Jameis into an Elite QB just by a much better Defense and better blocking with his power blocking scheme and thus a much better running game, and also by using Vea as a FB in the red zone and short yardage. No I am not an FSU Fan either! Don’t promote the Bucs cutting Jameis so he can win Super Bowls for our competitors!

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  21. Again…. if its always the defense ‘s fault. How come the Bucs are never up 7-0 on an opening drive. Or answer the opposing team early on? Why isn’t 7-7 or 14-10? Or 14-14? Usually his fumble , missed pass or stupid INT help the other team go up 14-0 or 21-0. Again look at Dallas last year, the defense held their own and his TWO costly fumbles cost them . One, he was nonchalantly rolling out and got stripped for a TD return (46 yards) the other a terrible exchange inside Dal 3. Two TDs defense had to overcome. Just like in 2016 in Dallas, stupid decisions cost them that game. Taking a 15 yard sack vs Cle setting up a 60 yard miracle just to pull it out. Took 2 sacks in final 3 plays!! That’s NOT the defense’s fault. Also if you get benched to go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick don’t feed me “ stats”!! Every person who’s told the truth on Jameis in this topic has more (-) than (+) . Just shows that this fan base is a part of the problem just as this GM has been. Excuses, excuses , excuses. Vinny Testaverde played with NO RB, NO DEF n NO WRs!!! Yet he was considered garbage! Why does Jameis get the pass?? Cus the mop up stats when teams are in prevent will show him at #3 , 4 on the QB stats line running across the bottom of the tv on Sunday nights? I agree the defense and running game could help the “ TEAM” improve, but so could he!!! Not like he’s off limits to not improving his faults or mistakes. Lastly if you blame it on the D, or ST, but applaud or defend Jason Licht you cant have it both ways. Dirk took the fall for Licht and Winston’s deficiency’s. Lichts actually tried to overload Jameis with up to 4,5 options in the passing attack- So you guys try and use misleading passing stats but it’s because so much has been invested into having the weapons. If they invested in OL and top notch back instead, you’d be clamoring for Winston to have more weapons so he could have better passing stats. Guys been given four TALL targets who can go get the ball. His best games are when he’s under 240 yards , no TO’s ,uses his legs to pick up a few 1st downs and takes what’s given . Give me 20/29 221 1 TD 0 INTs and a W all day, over 32/48 337 3 TDs 3 INTs n a loss. What’s upsetting is a good % of you would take the latter.

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