The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Pewter Report 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: This team looked different than they have all year, heck for the last decade. Does it all come back to Tom Brady bringing the edge or have these young guys just finally bought in?

Answer: While it is a combination of a hundred factors, we can’t underestimate the “Tom Brady Effect” and what is has meant to this organization in 2020. His talent and intelligence is obvious. All anyone has to do is look at his place in the NFL record books. But the presence he brings to the entire organization is really something I didn’t foresee happening back in March when Brady joined the Buccaneers. Brady isn’t just an elite athlete, but also is an elite personality that people gravitate towards and want to perform better for. No one wants to let Brady down and everything is done with a little more seriousness and with more purpose. This isn’t just me making casual observations from afar. These are things told to me from multiple sources inside the building.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

And if part of it is the young players buying in as you mentioned, then a big part of that buy-in is also the “Brady Effect.” There are a handful of athletes that come along every few generations that transcend the sporting world they perform in and become iconic athletes. Brady is of the same caliber as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky and Derek Jeter – athletes and personalities that become part of American culture. Players that elevate the play around them but that causal sports fans have to tune in to see and follow their career and even their personal life.

But at the end of the day it really comes down to performance. Before the game on Sunday I was texting with a friend who still felt the Bucs should have kept Jameis Winston and based it on the fact that he threw for over 5,000 yards in 2019 which he said are Hall of Fame-type numbers. He tried to overlook the turnovers, but I told him those absolutely have to be part of the equation and the decision regarding Winston. His 30 interceptions and 5,000 yards got this team a 7-9 record, but Brady’s 12 interceptions and 4,600 yards got the Bucs into the NFC championship game.

And Brady is already a Hall of Famer. Why would someone make a case for keeping a potential Hall of Famer for a quarterback that is the greatest of all time?

Coaching, great drafting as of late, excellent free agent signings and a little luck sprinkled in are definite factors as to why the Buccaneers are where they are today, but the most important and impactful reason is because Tampa Bay has No. 12 under center.

Question: The Bucs defense absolutely balled out. What do you think caused such a drastic change from its performance this week compared to previous weeks? Third time playing? Todd Bowles playing less soft man coverage than before? Having Devin White back?

Answer: At the end of the day, a majority of the credit goes to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for just having the perfect game plan to face Drew Brees and the Saints. The players who went out and executed the plan nearly flawlessly also deserve credit, but without the blueprint designed by Bowles and his staff the Buccaneers don’t win.

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Saints TE Jared Cook

Bucs S Antoine Winfield, Jr. and Saints TE Jared Cook – Photo by: USA Today

The defensive line credit for getting some pressure on Brees and making him uncomfortable at times, that led to at least two of his interceptions. The line didn’t get any sacks and also not many hits, but coming into the game everyone knew sacking Brees would be difficult, as he doesn’t hold the ball for long. But by making that internal clock in his head tick faster, there wasn’t a lot of time for Brees to even look deep. The plan was to force Brees into quick throws while also contesting each pass attempt. The Bucs succeeded for the most part on Sunday and is why they travel to Green Bay next Sunday for a chance to get to the Super Bowl.

Question: Are we at a huge disadvantage if we have a snow game in Green Bay on Sunday?

Answer: Yes and no. Clearly there aren’t a ton of players on this Bucs roster that have played football in the snow, but unless it is a blizzard I’m not sure it makes a huge difference. Honestly, it isn’t like the Packers play 16 games in the snow. They had one late in the regular season against the Titans, but the grounds crew in Green Bay will do all they can to keep the field tarped prior to game time and as clear of snow as possible once the tarp is removed. But that’s even if it snows at all.

Lambeau Field – Photo by: USA Today

While the seven-day forecast is calling for a 60 percent chance of snow with a high of 30 degrees, that is no different than here in Florida in the summer when the forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of showers. It could happen, but not every one in the Tampa Bay area sees the rain, and that also means a 40 percent chance it doesn’t happen.

I would be more concerned if the forecast called for sub-freezing single-digit temperatures than a chance of snow and 30 degrees. It was in the 30s last week in Washington and the Buccaneers handled the cold weather just fine.

Question: How do you think the Bucs will game plan differently against the Packers on offense and defense?

Answer: I don’t see Tampa Bay making any radical adjustments to its game plan from their match-up earlier in the season which was a 38-10 Bucs win. Of course the team can’t just go into the game with the same script and try and duplicate it exactly. The main reason is, this Packers team is a lot different than the one the Bucs faced earlier in the year, as head coach Bruce Arians pointed out on Monday in his press conference. Arians noted that the Packers are running the ball much better and it will be a challenge and priority to slow that part of the Green Bay offense down.

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul

Bucs OLB Jason Pierre-Paul – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

This game will also come down to turnovers. Winning on the road in the playoffs is greatly enhanced when a team wins the turnover battle. That was something the Bucs obviously did on Sunday against the Saints – 4-0 – and hope to duplicate when facing the Packers this weekend.

Aaron Rodgers can – and will – try to push the ball down the field unlike the Saints, so if the Bucs plan on playing a ton of press-man coverage, Rodgers is going to let it fly. If that happens then it is crucial for Tampa Bay’s front four and its blitzers to get home with its pass rush, as it did earlier in the year against Green Bay when the Bucs notched five sacks and picked off Rodgers twice. Offensively, the Bucs would like to continue to establish the run and stay balanced, but likely feel they can move the ball through the air a lot easier against Green Bay than they did against the Saints.

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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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bucballer
6 months ago

R we really going to bring up Jameis? I mean come on! This move has clearly been settled and not even being disputed anymore! Move on.

As for Brady and the Brady effect… well it is alive and well. Brady has elevated the play of those around him. Showed them how a champion prepares day in and day out. U know what else is alive and well… the White effect! What a difference he made in being in the lineup!

Eddie
Reply to  bucballer
6 months ago

Of course, Green Bay will have something ready to counter White. We have to counter the counter.

bucballer
Reply to  Eddie
6 months ago

Hopefully we can hit em with Vea surprise!

Naplesfan
6 months ago

Mark – you are right, it’s much worse if it’s blisteringly cold than on a snow day, as snow keeps the temp from dropping out of the bottom. A forecast of snow and 30 degrees is about as good as it gets in Green Bay in January. Indeed, the game in Washington a couple weeks ago was also in the low 30s, and the Bucs did great. Besides, the player most likely to be affected by cold and snow is the quarterback who has to throw the ball or hand it off. TB-12 actually has more cold weather/snow games under… Read more »

Naplesfan
Reply to  Naplesfan
6 months ago

In fact, the forecast in Tampa calls for lows in the 40s for tomorrow morning, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings … so the coaches can do some early morning workouts the next several days to get our players acclimatized to the cooler temps before flying to Green Bay on Saturday.

76bucsfan46
6 months ago

I liked the man coverage with a 2 deep zone. That leaves White to blitz or a corner come off the edge and White drop into the middle.

Last edited 6 months ago by 76bucsfan46
Buc76
6 months ago

Bringing Brady here was the right move but that Jameis argument had more to do with the long term answer at quarterback. As much as Brady is everything we hoped he would be, we are renting Brady for 2 years. Once he’s gone it will be back where we were. I personally think he will keep going more than 2 years. Maybe 4 or 5 years. Where else would he find a better situation. The other players on the team are in their prime of have a few years left. This thing could stay in tact 3 more seasons.

RW
RW
Reply to  Buc76
6 months ago

Give me 2 years of playoff success with Brady rather than 10 years of mediocrity with Winston

bucballer
Reply to  RW
6 months ago

U said it RW!

Naplesfan
Reply to  Buc76
6 months ago

Brady has repeatedly says he wants to play until at least age 45, and longer if he is still healthy and productive.
His contract was for 2 years … that has nothing to do with how long he plays the game, or how long he stays with the Bucs. I don’t see him going anywhere else either.
We could see Brady playing til age 50.

matador
6 months ago

Jameis arguably had the opposite effect on the rest of the team, with his “I’m ballin, never mind the INTs” loose goosey attitude. And then there was the absolute despair those dozens of turnovers caused. And all the losing. Make no mistake Brady rescued the franchise from a period of boundless mediocracy. If we can find a way to bolster the lines it wouldn’t surprise me to see him extend his stay for another year or two longer than planned. As appealing as just going to another SB (fingers crossed) might be to him I’d imagine the opportunity to win… Read more »

buddah
6 months ago

Yes, Bowles should get the game ball. He and his staff watched the film of Brees’ last four games and saw what they neded to see: a player who could no longer throw the fast ball for strikes (if at all) and certainly couldn’t be counted on to complete passes down the field more than 12-15 yards. The Buccaneers crowded the line of scrimmage and played man-up in the face of receivers. It was sad to see how far Brees had fallen. I am a Buccaneers fan through and through, but I tip my cap to Brees. He is a… Read more »

BigSombrero
6 months ago

Cant say enough great things about the performance of the defense. Four turnovers was the reason they won.

Winston’s touchdown looked good and I was surprised Sean Payton didn’t put him in a few more times to push the ball down the field.

Naplesfan
Reply to  BigSombrero
6 months ago

Not surprised at all .. it was a gadget play by a gadget player, and Payton no doubt did not want to see the ball turned over again and again .. though that is exactly what happened with Brees. If he had kept Winston in, instead of three picks the total would have been 5 or 6 picks, with a couple of pick sixes mixed in.

Donkey_Hunter
Reply to  BigSombrero
6 months ago

“Winston’s touchdown looked good”

Well, when a coach calls a gadget play that results in a WR running free with no defender within the same zip code, even a turnover machine like JW can make that throw.

^^mtn^^
^^mtn^^
6 months ago

JW had his shot …. can’t have those kind of turnover numbers, don’t care if you pass for 6000 yds. He wanted $30 mil? Ha, go pound sand – got the GOAT for $25 mil, just didn’t think it would take as long for the O to gel.
Believe they wanted to get comfortable with Arians offense and then when that happened, started to install more Brady plays.

Eddie
6 months ago

Brady and Gronk played on the snow and cold a lot when they were in New England. It is the running backs catching balls that I am concerned about. They are not sure handed receivers to begin good. Coach have to adjust to that.

fredster
6 months ago

I was ok with letting Winston go IF we could could land Brady. Had doubts he would really come here. I sure as hell didn’t want Teddy Bridgewater, Rivers, Dalton, and especially not Cam! All would been a downgrade imo from Winston especially Cam who can’t even throw anymore.

Spitfire
6 months ago

First off, a lot of our players have at least come from cold weather football areas. Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, Minnesota, New England. We probably have at least 50% of our players coming from colder areas. The most important part is that Brady has played in some of the historically worst football weather, especially in the post season. If the man who is managing the Offense is used to it, that is the important part. If it’s a nasty game it will probably be mostly on the ground which we have the personnel to both deploy it and to defend… Read more »

Donkey_Hunter
6 months ago

Bring on the snow and the bad weather. Would love to see an old school, defensive slugfest.

JJ
JJ
6 months ago

Rogers game starts to fall apart if they can’t establish the run. I feel like White will feast again and Bowles will run blitz like crazy.

mdarby215
6 months ago

Obviously, the Packers don’t do well in the cold either. They have LOST the last three (3) NFC Championship games held in Green Bay.

Roladin
6 months ago

Tom Brady to Aaron Rodgers:
Oh, you think the cold is your ally. But you merely adopted the cold. I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t play a home game in Florida until I was already twenty years in the league …

scubog
6 months ago

I’m pretty sure it will be cold on both sides of the field. Unlike at Ray-Jay where the sun shines brightest on the east side. Of course, that heat rarely helped the “home” team. Let’s hope the Packers think the weatherman will win the game for them.

Spruce
6 months ago

It really is funny how Brady ends up being a credit black hole. This game was a complete game for all three phases, Brady and the offense and especially the running game managed the game with the defense being the decider. The coaching staff schemed up and coaches up a great team effort and yet this thing they call the Brady affect has to be highlighted. There was nothing about this win that had anything more to do with Brady then the play of a capable, experienced quarterback. The Brady affect was not really present all season as the team… Read more »

Spruce
6 months ago

We know two guys can play in the cold like it’s not even a factor. The rest of the Bucs beach boys perhaps not so much. This will be a gut check. Not just any cold, the Canadian border cold. Running game will be key as the receivers may struggle to deal with freezing conditions. Green Bay has one major psychological advantage having been embarrassed by the Bucs early on. Now they have them right where they want them with every advantage from a conditions standpoint. Even the small but vocal crowd with be new to the Bucs. At this… Read more »

Dave
6 months ago

“I was texting with a friend on Sunday, who still thinks we should have kept Jameis, pointing to his 5000 yards, stating, those are HOF numbers”. Is Mark Cook personal friends with BS? Lol

Dave
6 months ago

The phrase “the Brady effect”, seems to really irritate the Brady haters. More than PR or most people even realize. The fact remains, too many players, if they’re not winning, or are on a bad team, don’t put in 100% effort throughout the season(practices, games, training camp, etc…). But when you release Jameis, and bring in Brady, the expectation changes. Every single player on this roster, now realizes that they need to give 100% every single practice, and every single game. Why? Easy. Because the expectation with Brady, is now, we’re a SB contender. You can get away with half… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Dave