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: Does this team have an identity or are we just gonna continue to see greatness then crap every other week?
Answer: That is a great point and one that I have pondered a few times over Tampa Bay’s first five games. What is this team’s identity – particularly offensively? Are they a pound it on the ground, mauling team? A drop back and throw it all over the field team? Who are these guys? And the answer is still out there somewhere as the Bucs are still trying to figure it out themselves offensively.
I think last week’s win over the Rams in Los Angeles is who the Bucs want to be. It was a good balance of run and pass, with the running game setting some things up via play-action. But who an offense is will sometimes be dictated by what the defense does to stop it. The Saints had the perfect game plan – get pressure from their front four and cover extremely well, mixing in man and zone coverage and throwing some looks at Jameis Winston on third down that he wasn’t expecting. At the end of the day, it still comes down to blocking and protection, and the Bucs offensive line didn’t play nearly as well as it had the week before and the results were vastly different in Sunday’s 31-24 loss, in which Winston was sacked six times.
We all would like to see Tampa Bay succeed, but this isn’t a Super Bowl team talent-wise. There will be more games like this, and maybe even some more games like the win over the Rams. Growing pains will abound, and ups-and-downs are part of the process. The 4-1 Buffalo Bills are a perfect example of that. Or you can even look back to Tony Dungy’s first two seasons in Tampa Bay when he went 6-10 and then 10-6. It takes a while to establish an identity, and this team is still trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces all fit together on both offense and defense.
Question: Was Dirk Koetter and staff on to something with moving Vernon Hargreaves III inside to nickel? Think he may be better suited for the smaller wide receivers, and start Jamel Dean outside at cornerback?
Answer: After watching Sunday’s loss to the Saints, and even the previous couple of games, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Vernon Hargreaves III moving back inside. He has struggled in man overage, especially against taller more physical receivers. Of course he is just one of a number of secondary players who have disappointed, and the defensive issues can’t be just pinned on the former Gator.
Coverage goes hand-in-hand with pressure on the quarterback and there was little of that against Teddy Bridgewater. The Bucs could have two Pro Bowl cornerbacks on the field, but if they fail to generate any pressure, eventually someone will get open.
Once Jamel Dean is healthy – and he is getting close as he practiced last week but was inactive on Sunday – I think we will see the former Auburn Tiger get some looks opposite of Carton Davis. And if Dean proves capable then Hargreaves could shift back inside to take over for M.J. Stewart as the team’s nickel cornerback.
Question: Is it time to go after Jalen Ramsey or Patrick Peterson? This Bucs secondary is bad.
Answer: I don’t think there is any doubt that either of those two would make this team better. Tampa Bay has no one on the roster in the secondary that is even close to the ability of Pro Bowlers Jalen Ramsey or Patrick Peterson. But I don’t believe this is a Super Bowl team this year, and probably not even a playoff team as the Bucs are now 2-3. So giving up premium draft picks to add a few more wins that might get the team from 6-10 to 9-7 isn’t something the Buccaneers are itching to do. They do believe the secondary will get better with the players they have, as obviously they are extremely inexperienced.
Is there a future shutdown cornerback currently on this roster? I personally don’t see it, but it’s difficult to judge with such a small sample size of work. This team will have a much better idea of what they have after 16 games and then I think you will see them look to make moves in the offseason to upgrade the deficiencies on the roster.
There are a lot of talented cornerbacks slated to be free agents in 2020, and of course their current teams will look to re-sign them, but Miami’s Xavien Howard and Los Angeles’ Marcus Peters are just a couple players the Bucs could target next March.
Question: Did Kevin Minter take Devin White’s starting job?
Answer: The short answer is no. Devin White’s MCL injury has normally a 3-5 week recovery timetable, and had Sunday been a playoff game, then he mostly likely would have started against the Saints. But as Bruce Arians said following the game, it was too risky to run him out there and risk further injury with 11 games to go, plus Kevin Minter has been doing a good job filling in. This isn’t like when the Bucs were rolling out Dane Fletcher at middle linebacker in 2014 or Riley Bullough last season.
Minter is a veteran with experience in the Todd Bowles system and hasn’t been a liability by any means this year.
Arians spoke about White not playing following the game on Sunday.
“He just wasn’t ready and he’s too great of a young player to put out there if he’s not ready,” Arians said. “He’s got too good of a future.”