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: Is Bruce Arians in over his head at his age? Back-to-back timeouts a week ago in Carolina. Intentionally taking a penalty to harm his kicker. Not going for two points after a first missed extra point. If his name was Lovie Smith we’d be rioting. Should we be rioting?
Answer: No, I don’t think it is time to riot. Not yet anyway. The examples you gave are perplexing and certainly can make people stop and pause for a moment. But it is too early to completely give up and riot or think Bruce Arians is in over his head.
The timeout debacle from the Panthers game is somewhat forgivable. Coaches will make mistakes – even the best of the best – and the Bucs still managed to win.
But the fact that Arians said he took the penalty on purpose to move rookie kicker Matt Gay back five yards makes zero sense. There just is no precedent for it, or even a logical explanation. If Arians doesn’t believe his kicker can make a 29-yard field goal, 100 percent of the time, then cut him now. He has no business being on your football team.
Simple physics and statistical probability research tells us that the closer a kicker is to the actual goal posts, the harder it is for them to miss a kick. This isn’t college football with wider hash marks making angles more difficult to hit the closer a kicker is to the goal post. There are no difficult angles involved in the NFL due to where the hash marks are. Plus, the Bucs even centered the ball before the kick!
If we are to believe Arians’ theory that Gay is somehow better from longer range, then why didn’t Arians take delay of game penalties after every touchdown to back him up?
A few people have mentioned Arians’s response last night was to take the heat off of Gay, and deflect the criticism. But Gay should be held just as accountable as every other player on the roster. He’s paid to make 34-yard field goals and needs to deliver.
Somehow, some way, the Curse of Matt Bryant seems to live on in Tampa Bay.
Question: After another game that came down to missed FGs/XPs, what round draft pick would you give up if you knew you were getting a Justin Tucker level kicker? I completely understand drafting Roberto Aguayo in the second round if all signs point to getting an automatic kicker.
Answer: None. Somehow even a Justin Tucker or Stephen Gostkowski would find a way to screw things up if they kicked in Tampa Bay. I wouldn’t sniff drafting a kicker ever again. I know that Jason Licht says if he drafted a fifth-round running back and he doesn’t pan out, that doesn’t prevent him from drafting that position again in the future, so why should it be any different for kickers? Well after two kickers, it is becoming more clear that this front office isn’t very good at evaluating kickers.
And the perception around the league is, if you draft a kicker, he better be damn good and pay dividends. Fair or not, that is the perception, and I completely agree. Most kickers are flaky, shaky and have a storm of mental anguish going on upstairs. And those are the good ones! Kicking is 90 percent mental.
Now imagine being a rookie and knowing all the history of the team’s kicking woes. A game like Sunday could be devastating for Gay moving forward if he isn’t mentally tough.
Maybe he is more mentally tough than previous guys. But the look on his face, his body language as he tried to explain what happened on Sunday, is an all too familiar sight. We’ve seen it before in Tampa Bay – too many times, unfortunately.
Question: Will the Bucs win a home game this season?
Answer: Probably, and history tells us Tampa Bay will win at home this year. But after watching this team invent new ways to lose as they did on Sunday, I don’t know of a game on the schedule that I would classify as a definite win.
The Saints, Panthers (in London), Colts, Falcons, Texans and Cardinals are all on deck for upcoming home games, but which of these games will the Bucs be favored in? How many of them are you picking Tampa Bay to win? If the Bucs can’t beat a bad 0-2 football team like the New York Giants, with a rookie QB making his first ever NFL start that just loss its best running back early in the game, and Tampa Bay has a linebacker that gets four sacks, then who will the Bucs beat? And yet here we are 24 hours later, staring at a 1-2 football team that now begins a hellacious string of travel and road games.
I’m no gambler, but I wouldn’t put a penny on this team either way until they decide who they are. Right now they are no different than the previous two Bucs teams that finished 5-11 in 2017 and ’18.
Question: Do coaches understand that playing conservative loses games? It seems like every regime can’t figure this out and plays scared. I’ve never seen two halves look like such different worlds.
Answer: Playing not to lose almost always gets a team beat.
When a team goes away from what has been working then it isn’t the opponent who is stopping them, it is the team itself that is self-destructing. Yet we see it time and time again in the NFL, and we saw it on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in the second half.
Of course the Giants coaching staff countered at halftime, playing different coverages and such to slow down Tampa Bay’s offense, which put 28 points on the board in the first half. But make no mistake, this is a bad Giants team. This was as much about the Bucs self-destructing as it was about the Giants winning at the end.
The Bucs coaching staff did very little countering to what the Giants were doing in the second half and seemed intent on just hoping they could hold on for a win with Tampa Bay’s 18-point halftime lead.
This coaching staff wants the players to believe they can become winners. On Sunday it didn’t look like a coaching staff that believed in its players in the second half. That has to stop or it will most certainly become another disaster of a season in Tampa Bay.