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.
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.