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 – 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 – 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 – 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.
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 email@example.com
PewterReport.com prides itself on being the most complete, comprehensive news source covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and delivering inside scoop on the team found nowhere else.