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.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Getty Images

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.

CB Vernon Hargreaves – Photo by: Getty Images

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.

Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson
Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson – Photo by: Getty Images

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.

Bucs ILB Kevin Minter
Bucs ILB Kevin Minter – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

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.”

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Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

28 COMMENTS

  1. I thought the bucs needed a talented vet in the secondary to help all the young players… look how well vea and gholston and nacho and Barrett and nasibb have played because of the presence of suh… line backers David and minter… while the secondary doesn’t have that leader in the position group… someone to lift their unit up collectively or rally the troops… I feel our youth in the secondary is going to keep the defense off balanced until corrected

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  2. Hargreaves isn’t going to get an extension. He’s just too slow and not tough enough. I don’t want to use any draft picks to pick up any players in this on going Season; we’ll have to pay more because it smells like we’re desperate. Keep rotating the younger players until someone fits in the positions. It’s on Licht’s back (I’m sorry Jason for your loss of your Father and I was going to wait until next week.) for where we are with a serious OL issue; at least he has recognized the DB issues and has been trying to make it better. Brate is trade bait and is expendable; this is where I would focus on if we have to make a trade.
    We’re in a situation now that we must beat the Panthers and they’re out for blood this time. Go Bucs!

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  3. I totally agree about not giving up a first round pick for Ramsey or Peterson. Hell, we wouldn’t even be able to afford their salary, Bucs are cash strapped. So it’s obvious how this year is going to turn out. There’s going to be some big needs next year. RT is going to be one Dotson is up there in age and getting injured more often. I see Winston staying, so he’s going to get a fair salary. Shaq Barrett, is he continues his pace how do we keep him? Then the BIG AREA CB’s what happens here? Chris Godwin, I think you try to lock him up like right now!!!!! We can’t lose him!! Just cap space wise Bucs are not in a good position. I guess we’ll just have to hang on once again and see what happens.

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    • juju1242:

      The Bucs were in a tight cap position for 2019, but their cap position in 2020 is very solid.

      The Bucs have the 6th most cap space for 2020 as of today at $81,080,000 and they have the least amount of dead money in the NFL at only $88,238.

      Of course the Bucs will most likely sign Barrett and Winston to contracts and there is a good chance they resign Suh and extend Godwin, but even with that they are going to cut VH3 and his salary with no cap consequence.

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      • Wausa, Thanks for the salary cap Info. Didnt realize they would be in that good of shape in 2020. Well, Unfortunately I think after this weekend we wont have to worry about resigning Winston now. Godwin should be locked up now if we can. And yes, bye to VH3, he’s just been terrible.

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  4. New Orleans is just flat out better than us across the board. In their place they are even tougher. When we play them here next month maybe we will have improved and it might be a better game. Its going to be tough to beat Carolina in London. They are winning and they don’t want to lose twice to us. They will be extremely motivated. If somehow we win 3-3 would be a good record going into the bye.

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  5. This team has been an Anomaly all year and it shouldn’t be with virtually the same roster as last year. We know what Winston can do with protection and Mike Evans, Godwin, OJ & Brate have been solid. I expected the defense to give me ups & down but not the offense. This offense has looked pedestrian too many times with a veteran group like we have. I want except the excuses of new offense, new scheme when there’re plenty of teams winning in similar situations. No more excuses, you have had the entire offseason to work on this and now it’s time to produce. Sorry want accept it!

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    • I don’t think they are an anomaly.

      Honesty time: In terms of talent overall this is a .500 ball club give or take. They are also the second youngest team in the NFL. By next year if the Bucs shed players like JPP, Jensen and Gholston they will be even younger.

      With the second youngest team in the NFL you are seeing up/down play week to week because they are young and inconsistent.

      I do agree though that the veteran on offense should be more consistent and they should be performing at a higher level. No excuses for the vets on offense not playing at a higher standard and for Lefty not holding them accountable or helping them out when they are clearly struggling.

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      • someone gets it!

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  6. If we’re still calling the secondary, and pass rush being bad after one man drafting for the last five years with three different coaches hasn’t figured how to improve it, he never will. How many DB’s has he been drafting the last two drafts compared to DE’s, and O linemen, yet no one can cover back there no matter who coaches them. Dotson’s replacement should’ve been drafted two years ago, not next year. Agree with Mark, we won’t know who we are till all 16 are in the book. VH.03 was a high 1st round pick who Licht picked up for his 5th year. He was destroyed by Thomas Sunday, and was destroyed against the Rams. Aside from his pick six, he’s been abused. The fact that we’re talking about trading for a vet corner, after two drafts of high secondary picks shows what a failure Licht has been.

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  7. Bucs need to develop Dean, Murphy-Bunting and Davis. There is no quick fix when the Bucs corners lack experience.

    IMO Bucs should definitely sign a vet CB in 2020 to compete but this season is a season to determine what the Bucs have and don’t have. Clearly the Bucs lack a true #1 CB so far.

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    • Sorry alldaway but Head Coaches in the NFL don’t get a free season to what they have. This is why Arizona quickly moved on from there coach and Redskins fired Gruden today. It’s a performance based job and you don’t have the luxury or excuses of getting the right players. BA had all offseason to do that. No excuses!

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      • Bucs do have the players but they need experience.

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  8. Mike Evans makes 20 mil a year after 5 games there are 42 receivers in NFL this year with more yards
    and Pewter boys ask why cap so tight!

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    • your act is so old, man. just go back to being a flacons fan already

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  9. You don’t spend a No. 1 draft pick to cover the slot receiver and that is what you are saying the Bucs should do by sliding Hargreaves inside.
    First Hargreaves said he didn’t like to play off coverage but I saw him doing just that yesterday against the Saints.
    You say he has trouble covering bigger more physical players.
    I say he has trouble just covering anyone.
    Yesterday it seemed like whenever the Saints needed a first down or a big play, they went right for whoever Hargreaves was covering.
    I was never in favor of drafting Hargreaves but your publication spent a lot of time and print lobbying for him to be drafted No. 1 just as you did for the No. 2 of that year, Noah Spence. For those of you who don’t remember the pain, Arroyo was taken with the second No. 2 pick that years.
    Great job Licht. Three of the top 60 players you chose in 2016 have all proven to be busts.
    Hopefully the Bucs will move on from the turnstile next year if his play doesn’t vastly improve and we can spend the money he was going to make on a CB who isn’t “soft” in coverage.

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  10. I agree that although it would be a quick fix to trade for a CB, it would hurt more in the coming year(s).
    If we don’t use our 1st and maybe 2nd round pick for OL/DE then I am going to absolutely lose my mind. The flashes like last week show what we could be , but like so many other have stated that right now this is a .500 club at best.

    I think if we string together a several wins at the end of the season I would feel better than the rollercoaster we are on right now. The NFC has too many good teams to think we are going to get a wild card spot, and I think our small chance at winning the division died yesterday.

    So everyone has to accept there is going to still be plenty of good and bad this season, but the priority still needs to be evaluating Winston. If we make the wrong decision with him, it could keep us at the bottom of the division for a long time to come.

    Hopefully we pull out a win in London and get back to 3-3. Being a decades long fan I would be happy with this season to not be mathematically eliminated before December,

    Go Bucs!!

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  11. We played a much better Saints team and only lost by one score. No shame in that and no reason to panic. A 14-2 superbowl bound team might have lost that game.
    Obviously our cornerbacks are a huge problem. I do not want to give up draft picks for a CB. The team needs to draft smart.
    I’m done with Hargreaves. I don’t care where we move him. He’s always a step behind and seems kinda lazy and uninspired. I hope he’s gone next year.

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  12. This is pretty tough. Davis shows promise in coverage and is a tackling machine, but he’s still showing growing pains. VH III is not an outside CB and needs to move inside to see whether he’s worth keeping. Dean is unproven, but needs to line up outside opposite Davis to see whether his physical skills translate into starter material. M-Bunting is still pretty raw and has a steeper learning curve, he’s a next season project and likely an inside guy.

    We also can’t either afford the $$$ or opportunity cost to trade draft picks for Ramsey or another veteran. This will be a hunt-for-the-next Shaq Barrett FA in the offseason to add veteran help. We need O line and D line help out of the draft.

    This puts the failures of Jason Licht out front for everyone to see. Savvy talent people and deal makers are going to be needed to dig us out of this.

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  13. The Bucs always split with the Saints. Sunday the Saints were better. Who would’ve thought the Saints would have such a good defense? The Bucs seem like an 8&8 team, at least until their secondary resembles an nfl team

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  14. Trading picks for a CB is a quick fix but that will leave the Bucs with few remaining picks to fortify the trenches for next year. For 2020 signing a vet CB and drafting the trenches is the logical choice.

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    • Indeed – it was also the logically choice for 2019, yet somehow didn’t happen…

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      • Agreed.

        To me the Bucs have ignored trenches far too long. Developing CB’s is tough if you don’t have vets on the roster to bridge that gap. When R. Barber was a rookie the Bucs starting CBs were Donnie Abraham and Anthony Parker.

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  15. As usual, I am in search of some supporting data please…

    Before someone else blames the poor secondary play on “being so young, the youngest in the league”, I’d like to see that person post the stats. I don’t think we’re especially younger than either the Saints or Browns, for example, just two teams I happen to look up off the top of my head.

    Second, yes it is a fact that we are the second youngest team overall in the league, but we’re only fractions of a year below the average…it’s not like our average player is 21 and the rest of the league is 28 or something. I simply don’t buy that any amount of poor play is easily blamed on “being young” and therefore doesn’t count.

    Third, our secondary has been torched by a 22 year old, and a 24 year old this year…so is it really age?

    But, if somebody could post some data to support that claim, I would be happy to eat crow.

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  16. Hargraves will never be a starting cornerback on a decent team. He doesn’t have the toughness or the temperament. BA saw this at the first practice–you may recall. That’s just a fact. But Davis is the only decent cornerback on the team and his game is still being developed largely due to the poor coaching last year. His loss in yesterday’s game was huge, but I felt early in the game that the Saints were better prepared emotionally to play yesterday. Let’s not forget that the NFL schedule is a grind and the Buccaneers have not really learned to win. Coming off such an emotional win, they weren’t ready. Is New Orleans more talented. Yes, they are–not so much in terms of playmakers but especially on the offensive line. This was the first week in which I thought the game-plan really was inadequate. Lattimore does give Evans fits, but not targeting our tight ends and limiting once again the plays for Jones–I just didn’t get that. Yesterday, the Bears lost Oakland; Indy beat the Chiefs; and Denver upset the Chargers. Other than the Saints, I don’t see a great team–maybe the Patriots, but who have they played–Washington, Miami, and the Jets. I refuse to give up on this season. The team that beat the Rams and Carolina on a short week, can beat most of the teams on our schedule. But the team that lost to the 49ers and the Saints could lose to just about any team on the schedule. Beat Carolina and they get their bye and a rest. Lose to Carolina doesn’t end the season, but it increases the difficulty. No, I don’t have playoff and Super Bowl illusions, but I do want to see wek-to-week improvements.

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  17. Unfortunately, trading for a cb at this point is too little, too late. This team had a prime opportunity to make a playoff run, but squandered it by losing to the Giants at home and now the Saints without Brees. If they had acquired even a slightly above average CB, those games were winnable. I also don’t buy the inexperience excuse. Every year we see young CB’s have success for other teams. Licht and the rest of the scouting dept have no clue what to look for in an nfl CB, and likely never will.
    On another note, this team cannot lock up Godwin, it would be a huge waste of money. How many perennial playoff teams pay top $ to two WR? It’s a completely dependent position and every year we see mid round draft picks outperform the top tier guys. Get a GM that can identify talent before paying big money to anyone.

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  18. Hold on. We know what Davis, Stewart, and VH3 are (in fact, could Stewart beat out Edwards for FS?). Dean cannot stay healthy and SMB barely seems like a player. So we’re gonna hope we draft another CB in round one or two, or sign a FA, which you said franchises won’t let them get away. Or how bout just trade the two for Peterson? This fanbase has had too much “let the young players develop and hope for the offseason”. Frankly, Cook, that was defeatist as hell.

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  19. VH3 is looking more and more like a slot CB. Yes, he was drafted high in the 1st and it may seem like a waste, but the fact is the pick is already gone so put him where he fits better and move on. As for trading for a vet CB, it doesn’t make any sense to give up a high pick unless we are 1 piece away and we aren’t that close.

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