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.

Bucs QB Ryan Griffin - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs QB Ryan Griffin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Former Bucs safety Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Former Bucs safety Chris Conte – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

Bucs FS Justin Evans - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Bucs FS Justin Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell – Photo by: Getty Images

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.

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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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 protected]
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DT25

Really hopeful Justin Evans will make it back to 100%…really think him and Winfield would make the best safety duo we could have if they’re both full-speed. That said, missing almost 2 seasons due to injury as a young player can be incredibly detrimental to that player’s development…look no further than Noah Spence. So it’s definitely unwise to believe with any certainty that Evans will step back on the field and show the same type of promise he did as a rookie. But it would be a great bonus if he can effectively compete for one of those starting safety… Read more »

BUC-ASS-BOB

I really wish Griffin had been played in some of the worthless all ready out of the playoffs games in past 3 years both Dirk and Bruce missed chance to see Ryan under real game situations, I get it they were always trying to determine if Jameis was a bust or not, but the fact they were out of playoffs at Halloween already answered that question.

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FLBoy84

You should be thankful Bob. If JW sits those last 4-5 games, he’s likely the very highly paid starting QB here in Tampa right now.

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BUC-ASS-BOB

Yes you are correct and I am thankful, however I really wish we could have seen a few quarters of Griffin, I do think Bruce was done with Jameis earlier than reported. Also think the Brady move was worked on for a long time maybe into last year! Kinda like that Seinfeld episode were George was with Yankees and was talking to Houston No yankee is ever coming to Houston. Were talking but not talking.

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FLBoy84

Agree re: seeing more of Griffin, though disagree on the rest. Recently watched interviews of BA from late Nov-early Dec., and he sounds like a guy who is ready and willing to re-sign JW immediately. Sounded like he had no doubt who his QB in 2020 would be. Like you though, thankful Winston was given those last four games to show if he was capable of closing the season out successfully and leading the team to a winning record. Crazy that it took those four games for BA, Licht and the Glazers to figure out what the rest of the… Read more »

toofamiliar17

I don’t really understand why people get so hung up on Ryan Griffin. The very fact that we never HAVE put Griffin in to “see what he has” in meaningless games should tell you everything you need to know – that he’s a nobody, a true “just another guy” in this league. Fans generally don’t get to see him in practice multiple times per week every week for like 25 weeks per year. The coaches do, and multiple different staffs came to the same conclusion – he wasn’t even worth putting in to SEE what happened. People gotta get over… Read more »

magoobee

Griffen will only be around as a camp arm. His $1.75m contract is way too much for a 3rd QB that is 30 years old.

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FLBoy84

“If they had that capability, they would be starters elsewhere.” Tell that to Winston, Newton, Dalton, …. Plenty of teams with starter quality backups, just not here in Tampa 🙂 That said, Gabbert is likely the next up more so based on his relationship with BA than any large talent gap over Griffin. Even though he went 2-3 under BA and only threw for 1,086 yds with 6 TD’s and 6 INT’s, Gabbert has BA’s trust for some reason. Crazy when there are much more talented options out there. Do find it interesting that BA refused to have a starting… Read more »

Naplesfan

Yup … it was just a few years ago that a “failed starter” who was a backup qb won a Super Bowl MVP .. i.e., Nick Foles. Not to say that all backups or our backups can replicate that, but being a backup doesn’t mean per se they cannot perform, even in the playoffs or even the Super Bowl.

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toofamiliar17

That’s such a rarity that it’s barely even worth discussing. If you go back over all of NFL history, backup QBs have won four of the 54 Super Bowls. One of those was Brady in 2001, the definition of lightning in a bottle. Brady wasn’t a valuable asset before that season – the Pats got him with a 6th round pick and got lucky, plain and simple. Them having him had nothing to do with them going out of their way to prioritize the backup QB position. The other three were Jeff Hostetler (NYG), Trent Dilfer (BAL), and Nick Foles… Read more »

Naplesfan

That even a single backup quarterback in the history of the league has won even a single Super Bowl – not to mention being named Super Bowl MVP – completely blows up the notion that disregarded backups deserve to be disregarded simply because they are backups. That it has happened in nearly 10% of all the Super Bowls proves my point even more. Just last year a thrown away former failed starter quarterback led his team to the playoffs for the first time in forever, and actually beat the GOAT in the divisional round to make it to the conference… Read more »

FLBoy84

Coaching flexibility, the offensive system, and roster makeup play a large part as well.

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toofamiliar17

And again, the reality is that three of those four backups were throwaway players, NOT examples of teams prioritizing having a great backup QB. Dilfer, Hostetler, and Brady were all either cheap, shitty veteran signings or super late round picks. The Pats were lucky with Brady, and the Giants and Ravens would have won those Super Bowls with tree stumps at QB with the defenses they had that absolutely dominated opponents. Again, only ONE time out of 54 Super Bowls has a prized backup QB won the big one (that one being Foles). If Brady goes down, we’ll either swim… Read more »

FLBoy84

To be fair, Gabbert really is a dumpster fire himself. The fact that he’s a cheap one that BA knows how to control and is familiar with really is his only redeeming quality, and is enough to make him him the better of many poor options otherwise.

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FLBoy84

Could really add Doug Williams to that backup QB SB group too. He went 0-2 in Sept and Nov starts in the regular season, was only given the nod by Gibbs once the playoffs started and went on a magical 3 game run. In his 4 years in Wash outside of that SB run, he went a whopping 5-9.

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toofamiliar17

I think it might more so lead people to think that neither BA nor Licht really prioritizes the backup QB position too much. I don’t blame them. Mark said it, and it’s true for like 90% of backups in this league – if Brady goes down long term, the season is over. On top of that, season-ending QB injuries are so rare, for Brady in particular. In his 20 NFL seasons, he’s missed games due to injury exactly once. Why would we spend valuable cap room and/or draft picks on something that’s exceedingly unlikely to be a need, and even… Read more »

twspin

Still scratching my head over the fact Bruce and Licht did not go out and secure a great Backup at QB. You invest everything..all your hopes and dreams in a 43 yr old, Multi-surgeries guy who may still have something left in the tank, but cannot..run 5 yards? Its not a matter of how he goes down its just a matter of when. To me its mind boggling. You kidding me Gabbert? I’m not a Gabbert hater But..He’s been a loser all of his career right? Brave Bucs spinning that cylinder on the ole pistola. Hope that last bullet does… Read more »

toofamiliar17

I won’t re-type my whole reply that I already wrote directly above this, so just look up there for a reply to this, if you want it. TLDR version: Brady has missed games due to injury in one of the 20 seasons of his career. If he DOES go down with injury, we’re not going to win the Super Bowl no matter who is behind them, unless we have the best defense in the league and a top running game, in which case any schmuck could manage his way to a SB ring. It’s an unimportant position, and diverting limited… Read more »

Dave

Toofamiliar 100% agree on everything you said

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Naplesfan

On NFL and COVID, Dr. Fauci gave an interview this weekend that was extremely frank. He says that football is like the ideal factory for spreading coronavirus, and that only possible way for football to be played this year prior to the availability of a vaccine is extreme testing, as often as can possibly be done. Because if even a single player gets the virus and participates in any kind of contact, everybody he contacts is going to be heavily exposed in the worst way possible given the nature of the sport. Fauci says that all players are going to… Read more »

Racing, both NASCAR and INDY Car are set to restart by memorial day. Baseball is preparing to start by the 4th of July. You don’t think Football will figure it out by the fall?

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Exactly. The other sports are already planning to reopen without fans. As I’ve said before, they will have to have some kind of shut in policy like for games, players report on say Fri morning, test and stay at facilities over the weekend until after the game. If a player tests positive it should happen before making contact with the rest of the team. For training camp they could have say 3-4 day periods where players report, test, practice and stay over, then go home for a few days. There’s also a chance that this thing fades out before a… Read more »

toofamiliar17

Don’t forget all the other personnel that are on fields on game days – reporters, technical crew for the TV broadcast, referees, trainers, coaches, team assistants, etc. etc. I’m just guessing, but all in, I would guess we’d be talking about 200-250 tests required for every NFL game that’s played, every time. That’s MASSIVE.

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Naplesfan

Again, you completely missed Dr. Fauci’s point. He even said that fans could be in the stands safely if the proper social distancing is required and if the numbers of fans are greatly reduced – say to 25% of stadium capacity.

His point is that football is not safe for the PLAYERS and other members of the teams unless extremely frequent testing and isolation is performed.

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Dave

he said it would be doable to have a 33% -50% capacity if the infection rate was very low in general in the community

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The point that Dr. Fauci completely blew over your head. His point is that football is the most contact-oriented sport there is (other than wrestling). To use NASCAR and INDY car racing as your support is indicative that you have no freaking ideal what you’re blabbering on about.

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toofamiliar17

All fair points. If this thing hasn’t simmered down in a huge way by then (which I think it’s ultimately unlikely to have), it may be that the only way we see football this year is if every player, coach, ref, ball boy, trainer, TV worker, etc. – every single person who’s going to be on the field – is tested with immediate results the morning of the game. We’re talking, easily, hundreds of tests done for every one of those people every single week. And they’re going to be doing that in 13-16 stadiums per week for 17 weeks.… Read more »

Naplesfan

Yes – it is certainly possible to do football prior to having vaccines, but the logistics are extremely daunting, for the protection not just of the fans but of the hundreds of people (not just the players) who are required to stage every game.

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Dave

And assuming you know what the nfl is going to do if a player tests positive during the season is disingenuous and kind of ridiculous. MMA player tested positive the other night, they removed that fighter from the card, and the event went on as usual. And now that opened the door for other sports to take the same approach as long as a bunch of fighters from that MMA event don’t test positive in the next month. MLB already made it clear that in their proposal for a half a season, that if a player tests positive, they’re not… Read more »

43 Is Only Old in Human Years

IMO we have lost sight of a lot of things as fear gripped the nation. First off I am not trying to diminish the impact of COVID, it was a very communicable disease that was very deadly to a small segment of society. I am just reminded that the original intent of social distancing was to flatten the curve. It was never meant to keep the nation isolated until a cure or vaccine can be found. COVID is a virus and there is no guarantee that a vaccine will ever be found (think HIV/AIDS), if a vaccine is not found… Read more »

Dave

Couldn’t have said it better man. And a ton of athletes feel the same way. I was watching a show yesterday. I believe it was the Rich Eisen show. And Charlie Blackmon was a guest. And he asked him so what if the only way you could play was if you played in a bubble. 1 specific city in isolation for the duration of the season. He was like “oh 100% i would. Being in isolation isn’t anything new, it’s what I’ve been doing for 2 months now.” And I’m sure many others feel the same way. A month ago,… Read more »

I won’t get into politics, but I agree with what you’re saying 100% COVID has killed less people than the flu, and when was the last time flu season cancelled a sporting event? It’s time to move on and stop trying to avoid the risks (as if football without this virus was SAFE to begin with.) All we can do is mitigate the risks as much as possible and carry on with life. It’s funny how many people are still out there having unprotected sex, yet they won’t leave the house without their mask haha. That’s the power of the… Read more »

danielob

I’ve always been a Ryan Griffin fan, he must be good enough to stick around with the Saints and us for 4+ years, so he must have something going for him. Jameis speaks highly of him. Speaking of safetys, we could have retained Bradley McDougale but let him go in free agency, he’s still playing for the Seaturkeys. Tanard Jackson was a waste of talent, he could have been a good player but kept failing drug tests, what a waste, wonder if he regrets throwing away his career now that his options are over in the NFL? Sometimes you only… Read more »

Maybe Gronk or Brady can rotate in at safety, just saying as saviors of the Southern Patriots they could/should do more.

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FireLichtMovement

I’m not sure on Winfield, but the rest, I completely agree with you. 1) He is the most athletic of the safeties that will take the field for the Bucs this year, unless Evans makes a return. 2) He was the most NFL ready safety in this draft. The guy just understands route concepts and what both the receiver and qb are trying to do. He is a willing tackler and has burst to get downhill to play the run. 3) His versatility will get him on the field fast, as he can cover the slot/blitz. If Bunting goes down… Read more »

Dave

Couldn’t have said it better man. I love Winfield. The dude is a stud from the neck up. And his athletic traits are solid too. He’s the complete package. Only thing that stopped him from being taken in the 1st was size and injury concerns. Otherwise he was easily the most complete safety in the draft. Tackling, ball skills, football IQ, and play making ability. He can do it all. He’ll be out there starting week 1

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FireLichtMovement

Winfield was generating some first round buzz after the combine. Jon Ledyard made the comment while evaluating him, that he wasn’t as explosive or fluid as Budda Baker or Tyrann Mathieu. I disagree wholeheartedly. It remains to be seen if he will match some of those guys production, but his combine workout was great. I recommend watching it on NFL.com. Better workout in all aspects than Mathieu, and better than Baker in everything but the 40, where they tied lol. His fluidity in position drills was amazing. All of that said, like you said Dave, his most valuable football asset… Read more »

bucballer

It’s starting to look like both S Justin Evans and QB Ryan Griffin will not be with the Bucs this year. Evans because of foot injuries and Griffin due to his salary and lack of experience. I think we r looking to improve the talent at 3rd string. If Brady goes down then we need a back up ( 3 string who would become the backup) with some more talent. Perhaps a veteran who is willing to sign for a Winston like deal. Maybe the undrafted college kid QB can be a potential project. If so, he will be cheaper… Read more »

drdneast

I get so weary of listening about the safety play on this team.
It hasn’t been the safety play om the team that has hurt the defense but the anemic pass rush up until last year..
Even then, without JPP. this team had trouble keeping the QB on opposing teams honest.
The reason Lynch and Jackson were so effective is because the Bucs DL didn’t give the QB;s a lot of time to sit back in the pocket feeling comfortable for to long.

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drdneast

43 is old in human years, I’m trying to remember how many virologists sit on the NFL’s governing board.
One thing is certain, if they are listening to that idiot in the White House, all of the players will be sick at home or in the hospital by the middle of the season.

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Is this supposed to be a dig at me? I am not sure that you need to remember how many virologists sit on the NFL’s governing board if any do. However, I can, with almost complete certainty, state that the NFL and the individual teams have virologists advising them. To think otherwise is foolishness. And BTW I don’t agree with you politics and if I wanted to read that garbage I would log on to CNN. I want to talk football so I came here. Trouble with all of you Trump haters is you have to ruin everything with your… Read more »

Naplesfan

Agreed. The defensive backfield is usually tagged as culprits when the front seven don’t get the job done. An effective defense requires effective play from all 11 members at all times.

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