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: Considering this is Bruce Arians’ first year, if the Bucs under-perform does this really mean the last season for quarterback Jameis Winston and general manager Jason Licht? After all, weren’t they a big reason BA even wanted to be here?
Answer: I think it is a question no one in the organization wants to even let creep into their minds right now. Certainly they are hoping Bruce Arians can work some his past magic, hone Jameis Winston into a top-tier quarterback, and see Jason Licht’s draft picks have great rookie seasons with the needle starting to point up for the franchise. If that happens, then Winston and Licht get extensions, Arians is in the running for NFL Coach of the Year and Raymond James Stadium will be rocking once again.
If it doesn’t? Yikes.
As I have noted on the Pewter Nation Podcast, I think Jameis Winston would have to have a disastrous year for the team to move on from him in 2020. The Bucs can franchise tag him if they are still undecided, and that could very well be the case. Despite Winston’s football I.Q. this is still a brand new offense and there will be learning curve. I expect Winston to improve in 2019, but enough to sign a long-term deal making upwards of $30 million per year? We’ll see. And if the Bucs go, say, 8-8, and Winston has a good, but not great season, then Tampa Bay is drafting middle of the pack and the opportunity to draft one of the top quarterbacks in 2020 would come with a hefty compensation price tag to move up. The decision then would be, does Tampa Bay gamble one more year on Winston with the franchise tag, sign him long-term, or cut ties and start over?
Question: If Jameis Winston demonstrates he’s not the guy is it more likely the staff pursues an established vet (like Derek Carr’s caliber) or a rookie in 2020?
Answer: This is a good follow up to the previous question. As noted above, part of that determination might be where would the Bucs be drafting if Winston is deemed to, in fact, not be the guy? If the team goes 2-14 the decision is a little easier, but if they are 7-9 or 8-8 it would hard to find a franchise quarterback with the 17th or 20th pick in the draft. So the idea of making a deal for a veteran would make more sense. And let’s face it, Arians isn’t here to coach the next 10 years. I think Arians coaching in Tampa Bay for five years would be a stretch. At age 66 and already having proved a lot (plus retired once already) Arians didn’t come to Tampa Bay for a rebuilding project.
We saw what he did in Arizona resurrecting Carson Palmer’s career after eight good years with the Bengals and two so-so seasons in Oakland. The Cardinals made the playoffs in Arians’ first season in Arizona in 2013 with a 10-6 record and went 13-3 in 2015. So if the worse-case scenario plays out with Winston, chances are the team would go the veteran route, depending on who might be available, of course.
Question: Not many teams turn around such a disastrous season. The Rams come to mind that’s a team a with talent that made huge strides quickly. Is there a sense around the building that staff is the answer? Or is this team not as talented as we all think.
Answer: The answer to your last question will be answered this season. Was it talent, or coaching the last two seasons that caused the Bucs to go 5-11? Did Tampa Bay underachieve or was it really just a 5-11 team in terms of talent?
The Rams are a team I am guessing the Glazers are hoping the Bucs can follow in the footsteps of. After several mediocre years under Jeff Fisher, the Rams brought in Sean McVay who took a 6-10 team two years ago to the Super Bowl in his second season – and without a major rebuild. In McVay’s first season they were 11-5 before reaching the Super Bowl in 2019 with many of the players that Fisher and the front office brought in. This is exactly how the Glazers – and the fans – are hoping the Arians hire turns out.
Question: If the defense flips the script, and say becomes a top 15 defense, does Todd Bowles become the next Monte Kiffin? And does he stay?
Answer: As far as personality and style goes you couldn’t have two guys any more on opposite ends of the spectrum. Monte Kiffin was an over-the-top personality running a zone-based defense, with the pressure expected to come from the front four. Todd Bowles won’t win any “Mr. Charisma” contests anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean he is any less of a coach than Kiffin – just different.
Bowles is a pressure after pressure type of defensive coach that likes to attack from multiple spots on the field. If it works, it is great, but without the right personnel, it can be disaster. Of course the same could be said for Kiffin’s “Tampa Two” Cover 2 scheme as well. What would Kiffin’s defense looked like without a Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber and John Lynch? We kind of saw it during Lovie Smith’s two seasons as head coach when he tried to revive the Tampa 2 in Tampa and it was a failure.
If Bowles has success there will be teams looking to talk to him about another shot in the NFL as a head coach, but probably not after just one year. Bowles would need to have sustained success in Tampa Bay to get another shot at another head coaching gig.
After listening to him and interviewing him, I don’t know that there is a burning desire around the league for him return as a head coach in the near future. I think he genuinely enjoys being hyper-focused on defense without all the responsibilities of being a head coach. I don’t know that for sure, but it’s just the vibe I have gotten.
Yet I think he would be the first guy the Glazers would talk to if things work out for Arians and he decides to step down after two or three years. Maybe that is already the plan – that Bowles in the heir apparent at head coach for the Bucs.