The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport 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: Although we will find out Monday night, the Rams have victories against Washington, the Eagles, the Cowboys, the Giants and the Bears (Nick Foles) as five of their six wins. Is this a really good 6-3 team, or a team whose opponents are so inferior?

 Answer: I get what you are saying about the Rams and the teams they have beaten, and I have thought about it as well, but when we watch them play we see a really good L.A. football team on both sides of the ball. Football games are as much about match-ups as talent sometimes, and this game isn’t a great match-up for the Bucs in terms of their patchwork offensive line having to go against a physical defensive line like the Rams have. In Tampa Bay’s three losses, it was the same scenario. The Saints and Bears manhandled the Bucs offensive line. No one would say the Bears on paper are even close to the Buccaneers in term of talent, yet I don’t know that I would pick the Bucs to beat the Bears if they played tomorrow. And I most definitely would not pick them to beat the Saints – even without Drew Brees.

Even offensively the Rams present some challenges for the Bucs defense, particularly with two really good tight ends, a trio of solid tuning backs and the way they use motion and misdirection along with play-action. Tampa Bay’s defense will need to be extremely disciplined with their eyes and trust what they are seeing. And linebacker Devin White will need to have his best game in terms of coverage for the Bucs to pull out the win.

I think they can, and even predicted them to do so in our weekly previews and predictions, but honestly this game strikes more fear in me than next week’s Chiefs game. The Chiefs are a better team than the Rams but the Bucs offense matches up better against the Chiefs defense than thy do against the Rams.

Question: Did the Saints actually do the Bucs a favor by beating them? As a wild card, the Bucs would get to probably play the winner of the NFC East. As a division winner, the Bucs might actually play a tougher team.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Saints QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: In this crazy 2020 football world we live in you might be making a good case for that. Normally teams always want a home playoff game but there has been no clear advantage to teams playing at home this season without fans in the stands. So going on the road to play the NFC East winner isn’t the worst thing that could happen.

Of course if the Bucs hope to reach the Super Bowl the path will still require them to beat a team like Seattle or New Orleans, or a team of that caliber. Whether the Bucs get them early in the playoffs, Tampa Bay still has to beat them and the most important thing for the Buccaneers is to be as healthy as possible as they head into the postseason and to be playing at a peak level.

Question: If you’re the Bucs’ G.M., are you investing all or a majority of the 2021 picks in OL/DL? The depth isn’t great, that’s obvious.

Bucs DT Khalil Davis

Bucs DT Khalil Davis – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: Look at you! It is November 23 and we finally have our first draft question. In 10 years of covering this team this is the longest we have went without really addressing the draft. And that is a great thing. Honestly, it was quite tiring to start talking draft by mid-October as we have done often over the years, while waiting for the Bucs to finish with yet another Top 10 draft pick.

As far as your question goes, I certainly would be looking to add defensive linemen/pass rushers whether via the draft or free agency. Knock on wood, other than Vita Vea, Tampa Bay has been fortunate to not have any significant injuries. Fingers crossed it stays that way because if say a Jason Pierre-Paul or a Ndamukong Suh were to be lost, so might be the season. There just isn’t any proven talent behind the current group of starters. I think drafting and developing along the defensive front has to be a huge priority this offseason. The Bucs are hoping players like defensive tackle Khalil Davis and outside linebacker Cam Gill can be productive starters one day but even if one does develop, the Buccaneers still need more to head into 2021. Who knows if Suh decided to hang it up after this year, or even if they can afford him or outside linebacker Shaq Barrett next year when the salary cap retracts.

With the salary cap projected to be significantly lower, the Bucs will face some tough choices – as will most teams. Because many teams will have to make difficult salary cap cuts next March, the 2021 crop of free agents might be the deepest we have seen since the beginning of unrestricted free agency that began back in 1993.

Question: Since Tom Brady likes throwing to our RBs (who struggle to catch consistently), why not give Ke’Shawn Vaughn a shot?

Bucs RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

Bucs RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: That could be something we see down the road, but I don’t know that the Bucs coaching staff trusts Keyshawn Vaughn in pass protection yet. When lined up in the backfield on passing downs, the first responsibility of the running back is to pick up the blitz in most cases, and we haven’t seen enough of a sample size from Vaughn to know if he is ready for that. For young backs that is normally the thing they struggle with the most.

We have also seen Vaughn lose a costly fumble in the Bears game right before halftime after a catch that completely turned the momentum of that game around. Vaughn is a work in progress and the staff and front office have high hopes for him in the future. Just don’t count on 2020 being the season where he has a big impact.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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, the beach and family time.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 mark@pewterreport.com
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buddah
8 months ago

Certainly this game could go either way. Rams are well coached and have been improving. But I trust Football Outsiders rankings that have Tamapa the most efficient defense in the league. We beat them last year at their house. We should be able to beat them here in a show me game. Can we handle their tight ends? Can they get pressure on Brady? Those are the right questions. Rams special teams have played even poorer than ours. That could be another difference maker.

liquidmuse3
8 months ago

It’s silly if you’d favor the Bears over the Bucs at this point. Smith has ironed out his game and Wirfs is even better. And our line haunts Foles into oblivion at this point.

And if Suh or JPP go down (they’re both Ironmen so why even mention it), McClendon and Nelson would fill right in, respectively. The season wouldn’t be over.

Virtual_Camel
Reply to  liquidmuse3
8 months ago

Nelson has been forgettable to this point in the season. I do agree on favoring the Bucs over the Bears right now. Bucs have been trending up and the Bears are struggling a bit.

twspin
8 months ago

If the Bucs cannot beat the Rams, We will not conquer the Chiefs..period! What worries me about tonight’s game is The Rams defense is just as good, some say better than ours. And if we do not have a blocking scheme for the beast, Mr Donald? He will show out on us and feast. Brady and pressure do not do well at all. So hopefully, we have come up with some kind of offensive answer for the pass rush. If not, It will be one of them bad nights. Looking ahead,KC’s QB is scary. He just throws however and whenever… Read more »

bucballer
Reply to  twspin
8 months ago

The Bucs cannot let one player, regardless of how good he is, beat them. Plain and simple! In the playoffs all teams have one or two alpha males who can ball. Fact. The Rams r no different. Donald is a beast. But good teams scheme to try and neutralize them as much as possible. Yesterday, Mahomes was getting rid of the ball in two seconds! Hard to get to the QB when the QB is getting rid of the ball that quick. BA and BL need to have players running quick slants and routes that will make it easier for… Read more »

drdneast
Reply to  bucballer
8 months ago

Excellent point bucballer and the Raiders, who we thumped, aren’t even known for having a ferocious pass rush.
Yet we keep hearing about how Brady is missing on his deep balls lately. Who cares. He is lighting it up with his short to intermediate throws where he is getting rid of the ball fast.
I could careless about going deep on every throw, Give me drives of 8 to 10 plays where you keep scoring and grinding down the oppositions defense and your QB isn’t getting set up to get drive stalling sacks like what happened against the Saints..

bucballer
Reply to  drdneast
8 months ago

Agree my man! I’ll take longer sustained drives that produce TDs and more importantly, take time off the clock than chunk plays that end up kicking threes!

Dave
Reply to  twspin
8 months ago

Well the Chiefs are beatable. They almost lost to the Panthers(who we beat twice by 2 TD’s or more), and were 28 seconds away from being swept by the Raiders(who we also demolished). We can beat the Chiefs. I consider them on a similar level as the Packers(who we also destroyed) And your Donald comments are getting old. He doesn’t average 50 sacks a season. Doesn’t even average a sack a game per season. They’re not going 15-1 or 16-0 every year. They’re not back to back to back SB champs. He’s just 1 guy on a team thats never… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
Buc76
8 months ago

The defense is not as good as people are saying. They can’t stop anyone. They need turnovers to be successful. Vita Vea missing in the middle is killing our pressure. What we have replacing him is not getting it done and teams know it. Don’t be surprised if the Rams win tonight. More likely than not they will. One positive note could be their left tackle Whitworth is out for the year. That might help us get some pressure.

Dman
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Completely agree with the impact of Vita Vea being sidelined. Most fans don’t realize his importance in both the running game and pass rush. The guys backing him up are good players, but just not elite. Too many people knock the big guy because he doesn’t have ‘splash’ plays, but he shows up on EVERY play and is core to what we do.

drdneast
Reply to  Dman
8 months ago

Dman, you are right but before he got injured I always used to read about how mediocre he was at at best out here. Even some of the PR writers would write the same thing and they are supposed to be more informed.
Sad.

Dman
Reply to  drdneast
8 months ago

drdneast – I hear ya, but I just don’t get that. Everyone was clamoring for Derwin James – and he’s a great player. But I’m a trenches guy and always have eyes in there. VV is an elite player, glad he’s on our side.

drdneast
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Hey, the teams thanks you for your moral support. I hope I never have to share a foxhole with you.

drdneast
8 months ago

What a short memory you have, Mark. It wasn’t so much that the Bucs offensive line that was the problem it was the fact Brady only had one WR to throw to who was maimed or hobbled and he was a rookie. I would take the Bucs in a heartbeat against the Bears in a playoff. Especially if they decided to cover the Bears wheel route. As for the Rams, I think they are a good team but I don’t know know if they are as menacing as you make them out to be. Don’t forget, the Dolphins beat the… Read more »

Pete Wood
8 months ago

If only we had a superbowl winner QB and former league MVP to help us somehow struggle and claw our way past this unbeatable team that paradoxically still has three losses and has only beaten one team with a winning record. Take a deep breath, everybody. We’re not going to get to play the Brandon High School JV team every week. We got this tonight. No need to panic.

bucballer
Reply to  Pete Wood
8 months ago

Hey Pete… u do remember the days when Plant went like five or six years without a loss don’t u… I know it was their wrestling team but still it was really impressive!

Pete Wood
Reply to  bucballer
8 months ago

I graduated from BHS in 1983 and we didn’t exactly excel in football. Our wrestling team had gone something like 150 matches without a loss.
Plant was no slouch in most sports as I recall.

Naplesfan
8 months ago

It is unknowable how good the Rams are prior to tonight’s game.

We’ll at least know how good they are when playing the Bucs after the last whistle.
Everything else is just pointless sports argumentation.

drdneast
8 months ago

Playing against the entire NFC East Conference is like sucsessfully drawing to an inside straight.

Dave
8 months ago

Really? You don’t know if you’d pick the Bucs if they played the Bears again? The Bears are borderline unwatchable on offense. And we were playing our practice squad offense in that game. No Godwin, no Brown, and Evans and Miller absolutely should NOT have played in that game. They were hobbling all over the field. It was painful to watch. Brady had nobody to throw to, outside of Gronk. Totally different story if they played now. Their entire cast of playmakers is healthy

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave