The Pewter Report staff answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag.
QUESTION: Bold prediction – not only does Sadarius Hutcherson make the team, but he’s our starting RG on opening night. He and Tristan Wirfs will lock down our right side for the next 10 years. Thoughts?
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ANSWER: Wow. That is certainly a bold prediction. You’re not only predicting undrafted rookie free agent Sadarius Hutcherson to make the 53-man roster, you’ve got him gunning for the starting right guard spot. Pewter Report’s Jon Ledyard wrote earlier this spring about how Hutcherson has a real chance of making the 53-man roster, but starting ahead of Alex Cappa would be quite a feat.
Cappa is entering his third season as the incumbent starter at right guard. He took a massive step forward last year in helping the Bucs go 11-5 before breaking his ankle in the wild card playoff game against Washington. In fact, Cappa was the only starting offensive lineman to not surrender a sack last year. He’s in a contract year and will be very difficult to unseat as a starter.
Bucs G Sadarius Hutcherson – Photo courtesy of South Carolina
Aaron Stinnie, who filled in for Cappa at right guard in the postseason, is also in a contract year. He signed a one-year deal as a restricted free agent and will get first crack at Cappa’s job as the second-team guard. So Hutcherson will essentially have to beat out both Cappa and Stinnie for the right to start. Both of those players are entering their third year in Bruce Arians’ offense and have a decided advantage over Hutcherson.
At 6-foot-3, 321 pounds, the South Carolina product does have imposing size and is a beast in the running game. Hutcherson has an outside shot at making the 53-man roster, but not having a fourth preseason game to make an impression might hurt him. With the NFL now having just three preseason games that will reduce the number of snaps he’d have to convince the coaches and scouts that he’s worthy of making the active roster. Making the 53-man roster is doable for Hutcherson, but I don’t see him starting ahead of Cappa or Stinnie this year.
QUESTION: I’m thinking about putting some money down on the Bucs to finish the regular season 17-0. I was curious if you could guess what they would do if they’re undefeated late in the season. Do you think they would go for it and not rest the starters?
ANSWER: Going 16-0 is hard enough. Only the Miami Dolphins (14-0 in 1972) and the New England Patriots (16-0 in 2007) have had perfect records in the regular season. The Dolphins went on to win the Super Bowl and finish 17-0 as the lone undefeated team in modern day NFL history. The Patriots went 19-1 but came up a game short, losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII.
Bucs QB Tom Brady and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: USA Today
Now the NFL is going to a 17-game schedule, which will only make going perfect even more difficult. If Tom Brady and Bruce Arians have a chance to make NFL history and become the first team to finish the regular season 17-0 I don’t think there is any way the Bucs would rest their starters in Week 18. I know winning the Super Bowl is the ultimate goal, but who says the Bucs couldn’t accomplish that by playing their starters in Week 18?
Arians rarely pulled Brady out of games last year. Even when the Bucs were getting shellacked 38-3 by New Orleans on Sunday Night Football, Brady was playing into the fourth quarter. Only when Tampa Bay was way up – against Green Bay early in the season and at Detroit late in the season – did we see Blaine Gabbert enter in garbage time.
I don’t see an old school coach like Arians preventing his starters from playing in any regular season game just to rest them or prevent injuries. Injuries can happen in practice and you can’t play scared. If the Bucs are 16-0 heading into Week 18, Arians and Brady will do everything they can to finish the season 17-0 and make history. Mark it down and lay down that bet.
QUESTION: If you weren’t covering the Buccaneers what would be a fun team to cover professionally right now?
ANSWER: Great question. Nothing beats living in the Tampa Bay area and covering the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers. And watching Lightning hockey. But if I had to relocate and cover another franchise the easy answer would be moving back to Kansas City and covering Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Having grown up in Kansas City, I know the Red Friday tradition in the city where everybody wears Chiefs gear to work on the Fridays before game day. Arrowhead is a great game day environment – one of the best in the NFL. And from old friends I still have from that area, Mahomes Mania is a real thing.
Bucs QB Tom Brady and Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes – Photo by: USA Today
Like the Bucs, the Chiefs have a fun offense to watch, so another team with a lot of weaponry would make an easy transition. Plus getting to cover Mahomes and another Super Bowl contender would also be a thrill. Andy Reid is great with the media and the BBQ in K.C. is outstanding.
When I grew up in Kansas City in the 1980s and early 90s, the Chiefs were all about defense and running the ball with Christian Okoye, Barry Word, Harvey Williams and Todd McNair (now Tampa Bay’s running backs coach). Bruce Arians was Marty Schottenheimer’s running backs coach at the time. Former Bucs coaches Tony Dungy and Herman Edwards coached cornerback Kevin Ross (now the Bucs cornerbacks coach), Albert Lewis, Deron Cherry and Lloyd Burress in Bill Cowher’s defense. Lots of current Bucs connections on those old Chiefs teams.
Kansas City’s identity has changed a lot since the days of Marty Ball. They’ve been to the last two Super Bowls and have to be considered the favorite to make it to Los Angeles next February aside from Buffalo.
QUESTION: I’m worried the Bucs will have another 2003 season and think that just because they won the Super Bowl and have the most talented roster that they can just show up and win – and underachieve as a result. Am I just being too negative?
ANSWER: The 2003 season was incredibly disappointing with the Bucs finishing 7-9 after going 12-4 and winning Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002. What that tore that team apart was ego and lack of team chemistry. Too many Bucs thought they were the reason for the team’s Super Bowl success. Throw in the fact that disgruntled wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and head coach Jon Gruden had enough of each other and it was a recipe for disaster.
Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Everyone remembers the Colts’ stunning comeback to beat the Bucs, 38-35, in overtime on Monday Night Football in 2003. Tampa Bay lost starting cornerback Brian Kelly to injury in Week 4 and that certainly didn’t help the rest of the season. Being 2-2 instead of 3-1 at that juncture shook the Bucs’ confidence and it just unraveled from there. Tampa Bay was only 5-6 in Week 12.
But this Bucs team is different. All of the egos seem to be in check and there is plenty of steady, team-oriented leadership all over, starting with Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl champion is on a mission to repeat and win another round of back-to-back championships – as he did in New England in 2003-04 – before he retires. Head coach Bruce Arians wants another ring, and I’m sure that would help his case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
This Bucs team is special and it knows it, but time is running out. The veteran leadership, all 22 starters returning, the coaching staff coming back intact, and the sense of urgency for the likes of Brady, Arians, and other aging stars like Ndamukong Suh, Jason Pierre-Paul and Rob Gronkowski should prevent a disappointing follow-up season. The Bucs are the favorites to repeat in my mind – certainly the best team in the NFC. Whether or not they will actually win it will be determined on Saturdays or Sundays in January. But I don’t see Tampa Bay missing the playoffs in 2021 as they did in 2003.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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