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: Why did the Bucs pick ILB Devin White over DE/OLB Josh Allen in the draft? Did Allen bomb the interview as was rumored?
Answer: I wouldn’t say that Josh Allen bombed the interviews as much as Devin White nailed his. Another factor was the fact the Bucs were in desperate need of an inside linebacker. With the loss of Kwon Alexander in free agency, and the lack of depth at that position, the Buccaneers needed a linebacker badly. And it just so happened that White was viewed by the front office as a generational talent at that position.
Tampa Bay also felt like the addition of outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, outside linebacker Carl Nassib’s presence, the development of nose tackle Vita Vea and the expected return of outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul from injury at some point would boost the pass rush. And rookie pass rushers are notoriously slow staters. That obviously isn’t the case for Allen however, has nine sacks, including one versus Tampa Bay on Sunday.
It will take years most likely to determine who made the best decision, and it could pan out that both teams end up pleased with their selections. After Sunday’s game, Tampa Bay is ecstatic with their selection of White who is getting better and better every week it seems. A week after notching two sacks in Atlanta, White recorded his first career interception and scoop-and-score along with seven tackles in the Bucs’ 28-11 win over the Jaguars
Question: Who gets the franchise tag – QB Jameis Winston or OLB Shaq Barrett? We need to do whatever we can to keep Barrett.
Answer: The Buccaneers are very aware that they need to find a way to keep Shaquil Barrett in red and pewter for years to come, and plan on making him a priority to re-sign before free agency begins in 2020. They will do what it takes to make a fair market offer to Barrett, even possibly before the season ends.
The big issue is, if Barrett signs prior to the end of the season, he could be leaving money on the table. A 20-sack season would pay considerably more than a 14.5-sack season. Of course the other side of that equation is, what if Barrett gambles on an offer – if one were to come prior to the conclusion of 2019 – from Tampa Bay and suffers a major injury? Then he will miss out on a ton of money.
As far as Jameis Winston goes, there are still some questions marks. At least more than there is with Barrett. In an ideal world, Tampa Bay signs Barrett to a long-term deal, and that leaves the franchise tag option on the table for Winston if the Bucs decide they aren’t ready to offer him a long-term deal.
Question: If Peyton Barber’s 17 attempts for 44 yards (2.6 avg.) average is considered the “hot hand,” can we expect to see a more legit RB being signed in the off-season? Other than Ronald Jones II, I don’t see a quality RB for this backfield.
Answer: With this running back unit’s recent lack of success, the age old question is, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” Meaning, is it a lack of star power at running back, or would even Walter Payton struggle to get 100 yards in a game behind this offensive line?
Peyton Barber received all the touches after starting running back Ronald Jones II was benched early in the game after missing a blitz pick-up. Some may not have liked Bruce Arians’ decision, but it will pay off in the end as the message to Jones is that picking up blitzes is just as important as toting the rock. Ideally, the Bucs want RoJo to be a three-down back for Tampa Bay – not just a first- or second-down runner. For that to happen, he has to become better at correctly identifying the blitzer and adequately picking him up.
To your point about next year, Barber will be an unrestricted free agent and if he returns to the Bucs it will likely be as a backup role player – not a real threat to Jones’ capacity as the starter. But that’s if Jones can continue his development in the passing game.
Week after week, Arians continues to say the offensive line is playing well, and at times that is absolutely the case, but if we are going to continually question the consistency of the quarterback and the secondary, isn’t it fair to ask about the consistency – or lack thereof – from this offensive line? Last week, Tampa Bay’s offensive line allowed zero sacks and just one quarterback hit. On Sunday in Jacksonville, Winston was taken down four times, hit seven times, and was under duress a good number of plays when he dropped back to pass.
And take away Winston’s 20 rushing yards and the Buccaneers managed to rush for just 54 yards on the ground in Jacksonville. It worked on Sunday, but averaging less than three yards per carry isn’t conducive for winning football. There are just too many carries for no yards or for negative yards.
I am guessing the offensive line will be a priority this coming offseason, particularly in the draft next April. It should be at least.
Question: The Bucs played their most balanced game against the Jags. The offense and the defense both clicked, but what happened to the offense in the second half?
Answer: Up 25 points, I think it was a case of the Buccaneers going conservative and trying to milk the clock without taking any unnecessary risks. The way the Bucs defense was playing, the coaching staff felt if the offense didn’t turn the ball over and allow some quick scores, then Tampa Bay would win the game – even after Nick Foles was benched for Gardner Minshew. And the Bucs coaches proved to be right.
Jacksonville’s coaching staff and its defense also deserves credit. The Jaguars made some adjustments at halftime, but with a 25-point lead, the Bucs were going to have to help Jacksonville get back in the game, and that didn’t happen. Tampa Bay had just one turnover – fumble by quarterback Jameis Winston on a sack from behind, but the Bucs defense was able to hold the Jaguars to just three points off of that turnover.