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: With high expectations this year, when will it be brought up that chemistry between Tom Brady and others might never get there with no OTAs, practices, etc. How can they get on the same page?
Answer: There is still so much unknown at this point about the upcoming 2020 NFL season and when OTAs and workouts can begin. Chemistry is important and despite Tom Brady being a 20-year veteran, he can’t just walk onto the field and magically be in tune with Tampa Bay’s receivers.
To me, the best case scenario would be training camp beginning in August as normal. I just don’t know that we will be in a position where OTAs and mini-camp can take place in May and early June at this time. I would love to be wrong about this, but as we have seen from all other sports leagues, they are erring on the side of caution. And I don’t think an argument can be made that what the NCAA, MLB, NHL, and the NBA were wrong in putting a hold on things for the time being.
If things in this country do happen to settle down by August and teams are allowed to get together as an organization then it will require plenty of QB and WR reps. And if things are better by June or July, then I believe Brady and his receivers will hold some outside the facility practices at some local Tampa Bay fields or college campus practice fields. We saw that with Jameis Winston and his receivers in seasons past.
There is only so much players can do on a computer studying the playbook and watching film. There is no substitution for real interaction and developing chemistry between teammates. But at this point, I think just getting the football season underway in any capacity is the goal. And that means this country and the rest of world are in a much better place when the green light is given when it comes to sports leagues like the NFL starting up again.
Question: How do you think the NFL will respond to the coronavirus? Cancelling preseason seems pretty likely. After that, would they consider playing a shortened season or even pushing the season back and having the playoffs start in February or March?
Answer: As mentioned above, there is still too much uncertainty to even begin to have answers. All we can do is speculate. The NFL is working behind the scenes to plan on strategies and alternative plans if the season is delayed. There are a ton of factors to consider, with the biggest obviously being, how to have 60,000-90,000 fans in the stadium along with thousands of workers and media members, and to do so in a healthy environment.
I am guessing all of the options you have mentioned are on the table. But as someone recently pointed out, if we get to September and the NFL season is delayed then there will be considerable issues that the United States is facing that really would dwarf sports. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that we are past this by the time September rolls around. If the coronavirus blows over in the next month or two, it might not have any impact on training camp or the regular season at all.
Question: How are the Bucs scouts evaluating prospects behaviors and personalities without the ability to bring them in for a visit? With the ongoing pandemic many players returned home where their environment may not be ideal.
Answer: The Bucs, like all NFL teams, are using video conferencing and phone calls to get to know this year’s draft prospects amid the COVID-19 situation. The Bucs have already had a lot of face-to-face interviews dating back to January at the East-West Shrine Bowl and the Senior Bowl, and then late in February at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
As a coach or GM once told me, in today’s NFL world teams rarely miss on the physical part of a player. They all have film, data, etc. on players. Where teams generally mess up is from the neck up. Meaning, the mental part of the game. How quick of a learner is the draft prospect? Do they have a high football I.Q.? What type of work ethic do they have? Do they love practice or just showing up for three hours on Sunday afternoon? Those things rarely come across on film, so that is why the one-on-one meetings are crucial.
With all the down time I also suspect teams will do even more due diligence talking to former teammates, coaches, teachers and other folks that have a close relationship with the draft prospect they are scouting.
Question: What better way for the Bucs to prepare for the future, than by drafting a QB in Tom Brady’s mold and let him learn from the GOAT for the next two years?
Answer: While it isn’t completely out of the question, the Buccaneers most likely aren’t drafting a quarterback until Day 3 of the draft. Now if one of the top guys falls in their lap, or maybe someone they have a high grade on slips down to the second or third round, there would be a temptation to pull the trigger.
But from what we understand, this draft will be focused on finding players to step in an immediately help them get to the playoffs this season and next. They don’t appear to be looking too far down the road right now. I hate too use the words “all in” or “playoffs or bust,” but that is what it seems to be the case in Tampa Bay in 2020.
The Bucs could take a shot at a late-round guy, but the sixth-round Tom Bradys just don’t come around very often – like almost never. But a guy like Iowa’s Nate Stanley might be a decent gamble to take a shot on late. He’s a big, strong-armed pocket passer that PewterReport.com has had in our recent Bucs’ 7-Round Mock Drafts. As you mentioned, who better to sit behind and learn from than the greatest QB in NFL history?