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: Can the Bucs running game be fixed just simply from going away from zone blocking as Bruce Arians has hinted at?

Answer: Well if Jameis Winston is going to have the success that Bruce Arians expects, along with a shot at the playoffs, it has to get fixed. A team just can’t be one-dimensional in the NFL and have sustained success. We all know Winston is best off of play-action and if the defense doesn’t respect the run game then it is truly a wasted movement within a play.

That was something that frustrated me at times with Dirk Koetter’s play-calling. The Bucs would be down two or more scores in the second half and the play call would often include play-action. No one on the field – or even in the stands for that matter – thought for the minute that the call was a running play. The defense pinned its ears back and was coming for the quarterback and literally all play-action did was allow the defensive pass rushers more time to get to the quarterback. And even if Tampa Bay did run, who cares? Opposing defense would gladly give up a 10-yard run that burns precious clock with the Bucs down 14 points late in the game.

I asked Arians specifically about if the team would be more power oriented or zone-based and he said the Bucs would do some of both, but it depends on what the offensive linemen do the best once they get them on the field. He also mentioned it depends on what the running backs do best.

Some backs are better with one or the other type of running schemes, and part of what plays the coaches call will be dictated by what Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones – or whoever the particular back happens to be – does the best. Tampa Bay struggled running zone plays last year with the current personnel, so unless the coaches can get the offensive linemen to perform better on those plays, I would suspect the Bucs will run more of a power scheme.

Question: Which player currently on the roster do you believe will have the best chance of making the Pro Bowl next season?

Answer: The obvious choice would be wide receiver Mike Evans. He had a Pro Bowl season last year, but when a team is 5-11 those postseason accolades are even harder to earn. Add in the fact the Tampa Bay was only featured in one nationally-televised games last season, and it was nearly impossible.

My wild card choice, however, is tight end O.J. Howard. He is poised for a breakout season and I think Bruce Arians’ offense will really showcase and feature him. Add in the fact Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson are no longer with the team, and Howard moves up the pass-catching pecking order.

With a career 16.6-yard average, the only thing holding Howard back is staying healthy, as he’s ended up on injured reserve in both of his NFL seasons. If he plays 16 games in 2019, I am not sure how he isn’t close to, or ends up exceeding 1,000 yards, which would put him in the Pro Bowl. Especially, if this team can finish north of .500.

Question: I have not seen this addressed and I am sure I am not the only Bucs fan to wonder. Have the Bucs approached Gerald McCoy about a salary reduction or some sort of a restructure to keep him in Tampa Bay and help with the salary cap? Or have they internally made the decision that he will be traded or released?

Answer: We can’t say for sure, but it would make sense that if the Bucs wanted to keep Gerald McCoy on the team this year that the team would have approached him and asked him to take a pay cut. That was one of the first things the Bucs would have done early this offseason. And perhaps that is part of everyone being so non-committal when asked about McCoy’s future.

Maybe they did and McCoy is considering it. Maybe he turned the team down as I am sure he and his agent want him to earn his full $13 million. Or maybe the Bucs have not asked McCoy to take a pay cut, which would be telling, and perhaps Tampa Bay is just ready to move on from the 31-year old defensive tackle, who is entering his 10th season in the NFL.

Asking a player to take a pay cut is a little risky. Think about it. If an employer came to the office and said, “We like you, and want you to stay with the company, but we need to cut your salary in half. If not we have to let you go.” It’s better than being fired outright, but how motivated are you going to be to continue to have the same responsibilities, but for half the pay?

Question: LSU inside linebacker Devin White and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver are on the board. Denver is on the phone, wants to give you next year’s first-round pick and this year’s second-round pick. What do you do?

Answer: I couldn’t make the trade fast enough. That’s assuming the Bronocs are including a swap of this year’s No. 1’s as well. To move down to the No. 10 overall pick, get a first-round pick in 2020 and a 2019 extra second-rounder, let’s do it, John Elway – before you come to your senses. If I am Jason Licht and I’m the one calling the shots, the only players I am standing pat at No. 5 for would be Ohio’s State pass rusher Nick Bosa or maybe Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, who is visiting One Buccaneer Place on Monday.

Alabama DT Quinnen Williams
Alabama DT Quinnen Williams – Photo by: Alabama

Even then I would think still long and hard about it. There will still be Pro Bowl talent still on the board with the No. 10 pick and a quarterback or two would be picked between No. 5 and No. 10, which would only help the Bucs’ cause.

This year’s first round might be as exciting of a first round as we have seen in a while. There are so many unknowns and possibilities that the 2019 NFL Draft is going to be really fun to watch and cover. PewterReport.com will be doing its annual Draft Videocast live from One Buccaneer Place again over the three days of the draft, beginning on Thursday, April 25 at 7:00 p.m. Be sure to tune in on the front page of PewterReport.com.

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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]

15 COMMENTS

  1. Who on the team is a real power runner? Wouldn’t that be a logical pick in the later rounds?

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  2. Only way this running game gets fixed is if we get some real runners with vision and balance. I don’t like the running backs we have on this roster at all. I think they should pick up a couple of backs toward the end of the draft because there will be some good ones avail between 3-6th rounds. I’m talking about Myles Gaskins, Darrell Henderson, Justice Hill, Miles Sanders…just to name a few.

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  3. I think I would stay pat at No.5 for Josh Allen as well as Bosa and Williams.

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  4. myles gaskins seems like a guy not talked about much who could be a steal at RB in this years maybe even getting him in the 4th or 5th which would be an absolute gem of a steal i really like his toughness and tackle-breaking ability reminds me of a quicker version of legarette blount bruising brawler but with some speed and elusiveness really like henderson and sanders too also look out for temple’s ryquell armstead would be a great 3rd down back whos great at catching passes would excel in a committee style backfield and bruce loves his temple guys!

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  5. I think Barber is a power running back and can run fine with zone or power blocking.

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  6. Fixing run game has way more to do with fixing the O line than the RB we have. Although I get nervous about depth if Barber went down.

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  7. I still say put Vita Vea in on short yardage to knock some people down. Check out is high school RB highlights!
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=vita+vea+high+school+running+back&&view=detail&mid=1573DC2EF0DABAA628D71573DC2EF0DABAA628D7&&FORM=VRDGAR

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  8. I like Peyton Barber, I just don’t think he’s a starter. I think he’s a very good, off the bench option. Starting 16+ games and carrying the load? Eh…I don’t see it.

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  9. If my employer came to me and asked me to take a pay cut or be let go, I would have to consider the pay cut knowing I was about as half productive as I used to be. If I were to be let go knowing that I would not get anywhere close to the money I was looking for, I would seriously have to consider staying put. Why uproot the family and leave comfortable surroundings, take the pay cut stay and show them you can still pay. Even with a pay cut I would realize that I would still be making plenty at the end of my career.

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    Rating: +10. From 12 votes.
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  10. McCoy fans are failing to understand why he’s not showing up to OTA’s and why the Bucs can’t cut his pay to keep him. Have you ever considered McCoy does NOT want to be in Tampa?

    Some truth about McCoy through all the coaching changes.

    McCoy does not like being coached hard. He doesn’t respond well to it. Think about it…He is a multi-millionaire who earns a lot more than the coach screaming at him. Now someone with the brass is going to ask him to GIVE BACK $6.5 MILLION dollars in order to STAY and get yelled at by a coach that is highly critical while he cusses players out…ALOT?

    Former Cardinal WR John Brown didn’t want to come to Tampa, because of Bruce Arians and the hard coaching. Yelling, calling shitty effort out, criticizing “their football, not the person”, cutting players who can’t do what they are told, etc, etc, etc is BA’s hallmark.

    Yeah, that’s an easy decision for ole softy…no thanks. So this is DEFINITELY on the road to divorce. I will add that if somehow the Bucs decide to keep McCoy, which I think is about a 1% chance, I can’t wait to hear Arians light his lazy ass up for his mediocre, ineffective soft play.

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  11. Payton Barber gained 871 yards behind one of the most abysmal OLines in football and you think HE’S the problem? The defense last year couldn’t stop a high school varsity team, so our offense had to air it out constantly. Give Barber a halfway decent OLine and a defense that can prevent points and he’ll break 1000 yards easily.

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  12. Just a couple of comments; It is so difficult to imagine how several players on the roster will react to BA and his new coaching staff. No one can be absolutely sure ROJO is a bust because he got so few touches last year. Same goes for Spence and Cappa. Honestly until we see what Schemes, coaching techniques, and how they utilize players my guess is Best available unless one of the big defensive stars falls to 5. I also agree it will be 90% BA call when the pick goes in.
    Another side note that has bothered me is Bosa. Don’t get me wrong I am an OSU Alum and over the past few years have enjoyed a steady stream of the Bosa Brothers, but with his injury and the fact that Nicks best year has yeilded 8 sacks on a typical Big Ten powerhouse loaded with talent at this point I am more impressed with Allen. White, Williams and would not at all be surprised if Nick falls to 5.
    Finally I would caution trading back unless the Best are gone. Hopefully this is the last year we have to pick at 5 and we need to walk away with a winner.

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  13. The Bucs’ fifth pick in the first round has a nominal value of 1,700.

    Denver’s tenth pick in the first round has a nominal value of 1,300. Their ninth pick in the second round has a nominal value of 490. The combined value of those two Denver picks is greater than the value of the Bucs pick. To get anything at all in next year’s draft would be gravy.

    With an early first round pick and two early second round picks, the Bucs should go all in on either defense of offense. I normally value defense more. But, in this case, I would chose offense. I would take an OG, an OT and a RB. Then, you should really know whether this team has any chance to win with Winston at QB. With this draft, the Bucs should be able to run the ball and run the clock. That should help Winston and the defense.

    There are some great players on defense that I would hate to pass on. But, if you take them now and leave Winston with what he has around him and it is another mediocre year, all of the same old excuses are still there. So, hope Denver will trade, load up the run game and pass blocking, and try to win with whatever you can put together on defense.

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  14. Unfortunately 4 of the 5 OL we have are better in a power scheme. Marpet is the only guy we have who’s athletic enough to run stretch and toss plays…but it doesn’t matter if we can’t block the backside to prevent the defense from chasing down the play from behind. Barber is the only power back we currently have…and even that is questionable. Truth is, he’d probably be even better in a zone scheme if we could block it effectively. RoJo is very obviously a zone RB…and we did try to run it occasionally with him…if you want an explanation why he was consistently hit 2+ yards behind the line…there you have it.

    So here we are, with an OL that doesn’t match the RB’s strengths, and vice versa. Arians thrived in Arizona running a zone scheme with David Johnson. If we were smart, we’ll fix the OL so we can finally run it effectively. No doubt in my mind it would make our RB’s look better. Instead, what we will probably do is draft another one-cut RB and watch him fail just as miserably as our current group of backs.

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  15. We need an OT and a OG and a third down power back who can also backup Barber or develop Ogunbowale to be that player just to fix our OL and make play action work.
    On Defense we need a premier DE for a 3-4 or a premier DT like Oliver to make that work and a large fast CB who can jam at the line of scrimmage and play man for man such as Lonnie Johnson Jr. KY in the third round. We could play GMC at DE or the premier DL or De draft pick at LDE and Vea as nose tackle and PFF at the other end. At OLB play Barret and Nassib with Spence to back them up and David and Bucannan as ILB and Minter, Cichy, and Bullogh to back them up; starting CBs will be Davis and Hargreaves and on passing downs Hargreaves will cover the slot and the new big CB will play Hargraves spot. The backups will be Ryan Smith and Devante Harris; at Safety after Justin Evans gets tackling development he will start as the Free Safety and Whitehead as the Strong Safety with Isaha Johnson and the Greenbay Free Agent as backups. We will be fine under BA’s guidance. Just pickup some AAF players cheap for competition and we are done.

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