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.
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.
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.
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.