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: Some will say yesterday’s loss wasn’t on Jameis Winston. I for one was bummed that Todd Bowles didn’t double Tyler Lockett or play more zone to protect the secondary, but who among us has faith in Winston in a close game? He threw to Breshad Perriman on most important play of game at the time. Does Tom Brady make that decision?
Answer: Wait – the Buccaneers put up 34 points and Jameis Winston threw for 335 yards with no interceptions and two touchdowns, in one of the toughest stadiums to play in the entire NFL, and people are upset Winston threw a pass to Breshad Perriman? And absolutely, Tom Brady throws to everybody on the field. Every time I watch a Patriots game I see receivers I have never heard of and Brady is making them look like All-Pros. And even though the third down pass to Perriman was incomplete, it was Winston who, on fourth down, converted the first down with his feet. That is something you don’t see from Brady very often.
There are plenty of things to criticize from Sunday’s loss to the Seahawks, but anyone who thinks Winston was the culprit is just looking for reasons to bash him. Am I sold Winston is deserving of an extension? Not at all. But Winston was not the reason the Bucs lost on Sunday.
That was once again on the Bucs secondary. That was on a defense that allowed a practice squad tight end to score the game-winning touchdown. That loss was on a rookie cornerback, who gave up three touchdown passes. That was on a defense that allowed Russell Wilson to keep a drive alive in overtime with a 21-yard scramble and saw him throw five touchdown passes.
I get it that people are frustrated. Bucs fans have every right to be. Moral victories count the same as blowout losses at the end of the day. But Winston did everything he could to lead this team to a win and the defense let them down. But it wasn’t just the defense that deserves some blame.
His offense had their fair share of mistakes that cost this team. In fact on one series in the red zone in the third quarter, on three consecutive plays, it was first Tanner Hudson dropping a touchdown, Scotty Miller inexplicably running out of the end zone then having that touchdown negated and then Demar Dotson’s holding call taking a touchdown off the board after Winston scrambled 20 yards to the end zone. The Bucs had to settle for a field goal on that drive. If Tampa Bay had scored a TD there rather than settle for a field goal, the Bucs probably prevail.
Question: Everyone was wondering why the Bucs invested so much capital in DBs in the draft, and now we see. Question is did we draft the right guys, and do we have the time to see?
Answer: I don’t know the answer to that. Early returns say no. But cornerbacks and safeties don’t develop overnight. Even the best ones have their struggles.
Unfortunately we haven’t seen a lot of growth from this unit starting with the elder statesman of the group, Vernon Hargreaves III. Many people, myself included, were clamoring to see Jamel Dean get some playing time over Carlton Davis. I guess the coaches knew what they were doing. Dean was ill-prepared to start in that environment and it showed early and often on Sunday. There were a few flashes with a couple pass breakups, but all in all, it was a forgettable day for Dean, who was burned all afternoon by Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, who totaled 19 catches for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
The Buccaneers have got to find a way to get more out of their secondary play or they very well could lose every game the rest of the season. And while fans don’t want to hear it, this team may have to go back to the drawing board in 2020 and revamp the entire secondary through free agency and the draft. It is still too early to say, but as Bruce Arians said after the game on Sunday, at this point essentially all you can do is get them reps, coach them up and see if time and experience can help turn things around.
Question: Out of JPP, Carl Nassib and Shaq Barrett, who do you realistically see us rep-signing? I’d rather spend money to keep our front seven solid and bring in an outside CB.
Answer: I agree keeping all three would be my choice. I just don’t know from a salary cap standpoint if that will be possible. As of now Carl Nassib would be the cheapest to sign, but he is definitely due a pay increase. The Bucs gambled on Jason Pierre-Paul by voiding the final year of his deal to help free up some cap space this year and that could come back to bite them. I think Nassib could be had for less than $10 million per year. Shaquil Barrett and JPP will certainly cost over $10 million per year.
Barrett, who leads the league with 10.5 sacks, is the wild card here as teams have now figured out a way to at least slow him down after a monster start to the season. If he ends up with 14-16 sacks his price will go through the roof, although in talking to Barrett last week he indicated he wants to stay in Tampa Bay and might be willing to sign for a little less to stay with the Buccaneers. Now his agent would most likely disagree with that as he will want to squeeze the most money he can out of whatever team Barrett ends up with next season.
And I am with you. This team has to get away from their philosophy of staying away from veteran secondary players. They should sign at least one, if not two, starting caliber cornerbacks in the offseason. They don’t necessarily have to bring in a Jalen Ramsey or Patrick Peterson-caliber player, but the inexperience in the back end is absolutely killing this team.
Question: Clearly the game in Seattle turned when Tampa Bay gave up a score at end of first half and Seattle got ball to start second half. Why does Arians continue to take the ball when he wins the coin toss?
Answer: I am a proponent of deferring the opening kickoff personally, but obviously Bruce Arians likes to take the ball first. Bill Belichick likes to defer as well and it is based on getting a stop to start the game, trying to steal a few points right before the half and then taking the opening kickoff in the second half and scoring.
I will say it worked out perfectly this game for Arians however. The Buccaneers drove down the field and scored a touchdown to get out to a quick 7-0 lead, and while they gave up a touchdown late in the second, they where able to drive and get in position to get points before halftime. Unfortunately, Matt Gay missed the 50-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
And maybe Arians has it right. Do you trust this defense to force a team to punt if they get the opening kickoff? It is normally pretty demoralizing to let a team open the game with a long drive and a touchdown to start the game.