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: I always hear the narrative that if Jameis Winston played with a good defense we would win more games. Is that even possible with him turning the ball over all the time, putting the defense on a short field?
Answer: I don’t have a breakdown of every turnover, but I would guess a majority of Jameis’ Winston’s turnovers occurred inside the opponents’ end of the field. Certainly not all of them, like the pick-6 against the Bengals, however the other three in that game were were in Bengals territory. Same with his two against the Falcons in Atlanta. He has also had a handful on last throws in games with the Bucs behind, making desperation passes that were picked off. I believe he had one against the Panthers in Charlotte where DeSean Jackson made no effort to get to the ball or break it up.
The bottom line is, he has to get better in avoiding turnovers, and actually demonstrated that when he returned from his benching with only four interceptions down the stretch. Teams don’t win many games while constantly losing the turnover margin.
Yet Tampa Bay’s defense hasn’t done Winston many favors in his four years of starting. The Bucs defense has been bad since Winston’s first year when teams completed over 70 percent of their passes against Lovie Smith’s defense. Can Winston improve? You bet. Has the defense hurt the Bucs’ win-loss record – and Winston’s record as a starting quarterback? Absolutely. Both will need to be better moving forward.
Question: With Bruce Arians stating that he wants a quick turnaround/no rebuilds, what would be a realistic expectation for this new coaching staff?
Answer: I think anything less that 9-7 would be a disappointment given the talent on the team. Of course circumstances could dictate a sub-.500 record – key injuries for instance – but overall I think 9-7 is the goal, at least in my mind. After two straight 5-11 seasons, anything over five wins would be technically an improvement. But Bruce Arians isn’t here to overhaul and completely rebuild this team from top to bottom. Arians isn’t here for a five-year plan. Patience is running out with the Bucs fan base, the Glazers and the players themselves, so Arians and his staff need to generate some excitement in this area. Winning is the only way to do that. Bucs fans are fed up with potential and the old, “wait until next year” adage.
Question: Is there any player that had a down year that you think will have a “comeback,” such as Ronald Jones II improving from a bad rookie season or Vernon Hargreaves III continuing to develop?
Answer: I have zero faith that Ronald Jones will have a rebound or comeback year. I saw absolutely nothing to make me feel he will all of a sudden turn it around. Can he be better? Sure, because it would be hard for him to be worse. But honestly he is in Roberto Aguayo territory here. He is on the bubble to start the season, and if he doesn’t show marked improvement in training camp and the preseason he might not even be on this roster once the season starts.
Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was poised to have that rebound year before the injury according to everyone we spoke with. We will see if that continues. The team certainly needs him to.
My pick for comeback player is safety Justin Evans. There were times this season I had to double check to see if he was even on the field. Other than his scoop-and-score against New Orleans in Week 1 and his interception against the Steelers in Week 3, I can’t think of another impact play he made. The coaching staff had him playing exactly as his position is called – safety. Meaning way too safe. It is hard to make a play when you are literally 25 yards off the ball. The kid a is a talented, athletic player who needs to be able to play on instinct and not scared to death to make a mistake.
Question: Yes or no – are the Bucs interested in running back Kareem Hunt?
Answer: Yes. All of the NFL teams are interested in Kareem Hunt – as a player. Heck, the Chiefs would probably sign him back in a second if not for the negative fallout. And that is the big issue here. Exactly what type of negative P.R. will the team who signs him receive, and do they feel it would be worth it?
The Bucs would love to have Hunt on this team, but it isn’t even necessarily up to Arians or general manager Jason Licht. That decision would most likely have to be made by ownership, and no one really knows exactly what the threshold is for this ownership group, as Tampa Bay Times beat writer Rick Stroud pointed out on Twitter recently.
How much negative press and public relations are they willing to deal with? With a franchise trying their best to turn their image around, signing Hunt would be a big gamble, and keep in mind he could be suspended by the league for up to 10 games in 2019.