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: Mike Evans finished with 110 yards putting him 221 yards away from a record season. What are his odds of finishing over 1,000 for the season?
Answer: It’s 50/50 really. Evans has quietly stacked up the yards and has been the most targeted receiver on the team, but still hasn’t quite got the chemistry down with Brady that he has had with previous quarterbacks. Part of that, of course, is the Bucs myriad of options and Evans doesn’t have to be the guy. And Tom Brady isn’t the type of quarterbacks to throw up a lot of 50/50 balls, especially when he knows he likely will have someone else open if Evans isn’t.
A big part of Evans reaching that goal may come down to how the Bucs do next week. If they win and clinch a Wild Card spot, and their seeding is set, you could see a lot of starting players taking the Week 17 game with the Falcons off. I don’t know if that is wise, as this offense still hasn’t found it’s first half footing yet, but Bruce Arians may decide risking injury ahead of the playoffs isn’t worth it. But what if the Saints lose next week to Minnesota? Then the NFC South title would be on the line, and if the Bucs beat the Falcons and the Saints were to lose to Carolina to finish out the regular season, then Tampa Bay would be division champs. If the Saints lose next week, you can bet the Bucs will be playing their starters every snap in the regular season finale.
For Evans’s sake I hope he is able to get the record. Evans does everything the right way – from off the field to the work ethic he brings to One Buc every day. As a reporter I am not allowed to play favorites, but if I were to slip the fan hat on, Evans would be in my top 3 all-time Bucs players.
Question: Michael Strahan really summed it up perfectly on the FOX halftime show when he said there was no sense of urgency with the Bucs in the first half. How can the team change that moving forward and not have to start these games behind?
Answer: Like Arians and all coaches say every week, if I knew the answer I would fix it. It really is perplexing however. Teams script their first 15 or so plays and run those all week in preparation for the game, so the fact that they struggle out of the gate as much as they have lately is really a head scratcher. If anything you would think they would bog down after they go off script, but for some reason this staff and team does things opposite of what makes sense. I do give Byron Leftwich credit, and even Todd Bowles, as they have adjusted well for the most part, and counter what teams are doing after their initial struggles.
The big problem with that is, that isn’t going to work in the playoffs. If you fall behind 17-0 at the half to the Saints or really any playoff-caliber team in the postseason, you are usually cooked. And being a Wild Card team, the Bucs will have to win three games just to reach the Super Bowl. Maybe they get away with an awful start at Washington or New York in the first round, but not against the Seahawks.
I am not sure if it is a mental thing with the players or poor coaching, but whatever it is, they have two games to get it corrected or they will be one and done in the playoffs.
Question: Why won’t this team bench Sean Murphy-Bunting? I’d assume they know what they already have in the player. Why not play more Cockrell at this point.? With the injury to Davis I doubt the make some move now but just seems like 23 is getting picked on a lot.
Answer: Murphy-Bunting was a deer in the headlights on Sunday in Atlanta, and has been for a number of games this season. He is just not playing with any confidence at all. And at this point in the season, I doubt it turns around. The thing that is frustrating is, from an athletic standpoint, he has all the tools and the ability to play much better. We’ve seen it first hand late last season and even early this year to a degree. I jokingly said on the podcast on Sunday night, he needs a “head” coach more than a head coach right now, meaning a sports phycologist.
As far as benching him, the coaching staff clearly still feels he is the best option and hopes he he can work through his issues. Maybe going back home to Detroit this weekend helps. Maybe another pick-6 like he had against the Lions last year would help. The Bucs will need him to play better down the stretch and hope the light bulb comes on before the playoffs start. If not, expect the front office to be in the cornerback market next spring.
Question: Brady and Arians may only be here one more year. Do you know if Tampa is looking to draft a QB, or are they happy with Josh Rosen? We have to address this issue.
Answer: As far as evaluating Rosen, there is little of that going on. He’s not getting reps with the active roster, instead running the scout team. So they do watch him throw and process things in meetings, but as far as how he would be running this offense, that won’t really happen until the spring if the NFL can get back to in-person, on-the-field offseason workouts.
The problem with drafting a quarterback is once you get out of the Top 15 or 20 it is more of a crapshoot. There are exceptions to that rule of course, with Brady being the poster child for late-round gems, and then there are guys like Dak Prescott (fourth rounder) and even more recently Jalen Hurts as a second rounder. The great news for Bucs fans is this team is most likely heading to the playoffs. The bad thing is that with success comes drafting toward the end of the first round.
And maybe the Bucs choose to go with the veteran formula. It seems to have worked well for Tampa Bay with Brady and the Colts with Philip Rivers. Remember, if Arians decides to stick around for a few more years, he signed Carson Palmer in Arizona. Wouldn’t Aaron Rodgers look pretty good in red and pewter in two years?