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: Will the Bucs give Ryan Griffin a real shot to earn the No. 2 QB job or will it go to Blaine Gabbert? They are both close as far as measurables go but Griffin has more time in the system and has played well in his limited opportunities (preseason).
Answer: I think Blaine Gabbert is Bruce Arians’ clear choice to be the backup to Tom Brady, mainly based on Gabbert’s NFL experience. Gabbert has played in 56 NFL games, including some time with Arians in Arizona, whereas Ryan Griffin played one series last year for the first time in his NFL career. Arians has a relationship with Gabbert from their time together with the Cardinals and the trust level is there. And with this being such an important year for Arians and the organization, if Tom Brady were to go down with an injury during the year, Arians is going to want someone more experienced stepping in to try and salvage a few games.
Of course if Brady were to be knocked out for the year then I don’t think it really matters if it is Griffin or Gabbert. The season would essentially be over anyway. While I like both Gabbert and Griffin, they aren’t likely to come in a rescue a season and lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl title. If they had that capability, they would be starters elsewhere.
Question: How crucial is it for the safeties to step up their game this year, and who do you think will carry that group? Antoine Winfield, Jr. is a rookie, and they can’t put it all on him.
Answer: Like every position, the safety group needs to improve for the defense – and team – to have success, at least the type of success the organization is expecting. It is really difficult to judge the play of the safeties last year and even the last few years because the cornerback play had been spotty up until the last six weeks of last year. I am not sure most people realize how important the play of the nine guys in front of the safeties really is. Just the position name alone – safety – gives us a clue. The safeties are literally the last line of defense and have to clean up errors and mistakes in front of them. Safeties can be made to look really bad if the players in front of them are struggling.
That isn’t to say the safety play the last few years has been good on its own. The Buccaneers have had a huge turnover in that department since the days John Lynch and Dexter Jackson were patrolling Raymond James Stadium back in the early 2000s. Names like Cody Grimm, John Howell, Corey Lynch, Sabby Piscitelli, Ahmad Black, Sean Jones, Tanard Jackson, Major Wright, Chris Conte, D.J. Swearinger, Bradley McDougald, Keith Tandy, T.J. Ward, Andrew Adams, Jordan Whitehead, Justin Evans and Mike Edwards are just names off the top of my he’d over the last 10 years. The results these players offered often hasn’t been very pretty.
Finding two guys who can play and stay healthy is half the battle, and the safeties being on the same page as the cornerbacks is the other half. That combination has been hard to come by for a long time. The Bucs hope Winfield is someone they can count on to come in and develop and get up to speed in a hurry.
Question: Any word on Justin Evans? Is he going to play again?
Answer: There is nothing new than what we’ve reported over the last couple months regarding Justin Evans, and that is the team is hopeful he will ready to go by training camp. But I would caution Bucs fans to not count on Evans, and if he is able to come back and somehow stay healthy. Just count it as a bonus if he returns in 2020.
You don’t wish any type of injury on any player, but in all honesty Evans would have been better off with an ACL tear, a broken arm, or nearly any other injury than having problems with his feet. Many times one injury to the foot leads to others in a domino effect.
There are 26 different bones in a human foot and over 30 joints. That isn’t even counting the hundreds of ligaments and tendons. There is a lot of things that can go wrong and they can be difficult to heal. When one thing goes wrong then it can turn into other issues that become nagging and sometimes career ending. Players can mask an elbow or shoulder injury or wear a brace. It’s much different with feet as football players are on them at all times.
Question: Before the schedule was released I heard that it’s going to allow the season to miss the first few games. Now, the first four weeks in our division couldn’t be more different from team to team. We’ve got two NFC South games and two AFC games. Atlanta has four NFC games, for example.
Answer: This tells me the NFL is “all-in” on playing a full 16 game schedule. Right or wrong, that is what it said to me when I looked over the schedule last Thursday night.
There had been reports leading up to the schedule release that the first four weeks would have been only NFC vs. AFC match-ups but clearly that was just a rumor. I have no idea how the NFL will handle things if the season gets cut down. But even if the above mentioned first four-week scenario had been put in place, I don’t know that it would have solved all the issues that could arise.
I could see a delay in the start of the season, but I am just concerned, if not more, about a mid-season stoppage in the fall if the cooler weather were to prompt a resurgence and spike in COVID-19 cases. While there are promising reports of good results on early trials for a vaccine, it would be miracle if one was found to be effective, manufactured and administered before the end of the year.
I think the hope of a season mainly lies in finding effective treatments for those who are exposed to the virus. If some of the already in existence pharmaceuticals that are on the market currently are proven to be effective in cutting down the severity and mortality rates – like Tamiflu is used as a treatment for flu symptoms – then it would make the virus more manageable and we could see a semi-normal football season.
Really, the only thing we know is – we really don’t know anything yet. Fingers crossed.