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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 public