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The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: Was wondering why some fans feel like the Bucs needed to add another RB or two to the stable of RBs that we already have? Thanks, and go Bucs.

Answer: I haven’t seen a lot of that sentiment recently from fans, especially after the addition of Giovani Bernard. In fact, Bruce Arians said that he thinks this is one of the better groups in the entire NFL.

Bucs RB Giovani Bernard

Bucs RB Giovani Bernard – Photo by: USA Today

Now earlier this spring I was one of the loudest voices advocating for more talent and that the running back group was the weakest position on the team by far. But at that time it was based on Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn and C.J. Prosise being the only backs under contract, and Jones only having one year left on his deal. I liked the stable of backs coming out in this year’s NFL Draft, but as it turned out, the two best backs, Travis Etienne and Najee Harris, were drafted ahead of the Bucs in the first round anyway.

As we know, Tampa Bay re-signed Leonard Fournette and added Bernard, which really solidified the group with three different style backs that can contribute in different ways, with Bernard being that missing true third-down back.

Question: With Tom Brady, Blaine Gabbert, and Kyle Trask on the roster, what are Ryan Griffin’s realistic chances of being with the team this year?

Answer: As a member of the 53-man group, not very good. Probably less that 10 percent if I had to guess. Griffin could survive as an emergency QB on the practice squad as those rules were relaxed in 2020 due to COVID-19, making even long-time veterans eligible to be on the practice squad. That seems somewhat likely. The team loves what Griffin brings to the table as a practice player and solid locker room guy. Griffin, unselfishly, spent a lot of time with Trask this spring in OTAs helping coach up the person who likely takes his roster spot.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: USA Today

Griffin’s only path to be on the 53-man roster would be if one of the three players ahead of him gets injured in training camp or the preseason. That, or some team comes out of nowhere and want to make a trade for Gabbert. Although that seems very far-fetched, as Gabbert was on the free agent market for a long time before re-signing with the Buccaneers.

And even by chance a team did inquire about trading for Gabbert, the Bucs likely decline as they don’t want to risk having to start Trask as a rookie if Brady were to get injured in the regular season. They feel they are still a playoff team with Gabbert under center.

Question: Which part of the schedule do you think poses the biggest headaches for the Bucs in 2021?

Answer; The NFL schedule makers did the team fair this season after some questionable years, including 2019 that saw the team have a stretch of not playing at home for seven weeks, including six straight road games and a trip overseas to London.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

Looking at this season’s schedule, the last part of the year has a stretch of four road trips in seven games, with some tough opponents starting with the Colts. Next up a possibly improved Atlanta team on the road, then coming home to face the Bills before seeing the Saints at home then traveling to Carolina and New York the day after Christmas and the day after New Year’s, respectively.

Overall it seems like as fair of a schedule as we have seen for Tampa Bay in recent years and if this team stays healthy, I’m not sure why the team wouldn’t still be favorites in all of those games down the stretch.

Question: Hearing a lot of hype about how we could be even better and all the positives (rightfully so) but what is our biggest need to improve on?

Answer: I believe it will be developing more consistency in the secondary. Despite finishing the year solid, the play of the secondary was all over the place at times and the Bucs gave up an average of 246.6 yards through the air in 2020, ranking them just 21st in the league.

 CB Sean Murphy

Bucs CB Sean Murphy-Bunting – Photo by: USA Today

Part of the struggle on the back end could be attributed to an inconsistent pass rush at times last year, but the cornerbacks and safeties didn’t help their cause. There were too many blown assignments, technique errors and even some questionable game plans and scheme choices at times during the regular season. The Bucs brought Ross Cockrell back this year and he could push for more playing time if Sean Murphy-Bunting or Jamel Dean have struggles this season. The Bucs are also high on what Herb Miller can bring to the table as well, at least as a depth piece.

But another year in the system and the confidence the unit saw grow as the playoffs went on, hopefully transfers to the start of this season.

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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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