The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReportTwitter 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. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: Is Grimes at all good in press coverage? It seems as all the other DBs thrive in press, not off, yet Smitty caters to one player’s skill set. We’ve seen the results with off and press coverage yet Smitty wants to keep using the scheme that doesn’t work.

Answer: To put it simply, no. Grimes, all 5-10, 185 pound of him (he’s not that big by the way) would get eaten alive going up against the likes of Julio Jones and some of the other big bodied receivers the Bucs would face. But there is really no shame in that honestly. Grimes is a cerebral player, willing to gamble, at times, but his superior athleticism allows him to recover when he guesses wrong many times. He also does a great job of baiting quarterbacks into mistakes.

And to defend Mike Smith somewhat, teams can’t play press every snap. Physically it is nearly impossible. The stamina it would take to do that 40 times a game would be difficult, even for the most conditioned athletes. But in this Tampa heat? Plus there are so many variables when playing press. One slip, one mistake and you’ve got a receiver running free for an 80-yard touchdown.

I do think we will see a mix of man and off coverage, sometimes on the same play. But it definitely isn’t as simple as just telling your corners to get the face of receivers on every play. Now, that doesn’t mean on third-and-5 you have your corners playing 10-12 yards off. But so many factors are in play, including the ability of your corners to be able to help in run support. On the flip side, it is much easier for a receiver to lock up a cornerback when the offense has an outside run called.

Question: What’s The chances Jordan Whitehead Get First Team Looks?

Answer: If you had asked me that two weeks ago I would have said, not very good. But, like Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, Whitehead has improved tremendously recently and will push for more playing time.

I do like the idea of a veteran presence at the safety position. As well as Justin Evans played last season, he did have some lapses that cost the defense. That doesn’t mean Chris Conte was fail-proof, but there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, and combining a rookie with a second-year player could be recipe for some blown coverages. But, at the same time, if he is clearly the best player, you have to get him on the field. Let’s see how he does over the next three games before anointing him a starter.

Question: Obviously a rookie but do you have any concerns with RoJo’s catching abilities right now?

Answer: Honestly, yes. Jones doesn’t appear to be a natural pass catcher. That isn’t to say he can’t improve, and I really believe he will, but for now he does need more work. He normally spends quite a bit of time after each practice working on it and that is something you love to see if you are Dirk Koetter. As disappointing as we may feel Jones has been as a receiver, I have been as equally as impressed with him as a pass protector. He doesn’t just identify a blitzer and does a good job, he also appears to be adept at diagnosing breakdowns on the offensive line and pick those defenders up s well. Koetter noted that recently. Stay tuned for a new edition of the RoJo training camp diary this week where he will discuss his progression as a receiver.

Question: Do you think Peyton Barber will be a 1000-yard rusher this year?

Answer: If I had to pick one of the running backs who I think will hit that mark, or at least get the closest, it would definitely be Barber. He is clearly RB1, at this point, and I don’t foresee him being supplanted any time soon. Barber appears to be on a mission this season, and the drafting of Ronald Jones was probably part of the fire under his rear. This is a great example of competition making the football team better. That isn’t to say Barber needed that to happen to push him, but it certainly didn’t hurt.

I admit I didn’t see anything special about Barber before late last year, and I am not calling him the next Le’Veon Bell, but he showed me a lot last season after taking over for a disappointing Doug Martin. Barber has the talent to rush for a 1,000 yards and if the Bucs offense can be balanced– and not playing from behind every game –Barber has the chance to hit that mark.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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, the beach and family time.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]
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Dman
Dman
3 years ago

Barber was a 1,000 yard rusher at Auburn in the SEC. Can catch and block. Had a 40+ yard run his rookie year on limited carries. Among NFL leaders in yards after contact last year. Why is no-one convinced this guy can be an every down back.

plopes808
plopes808
Reply to  Dman
3 years ago

This guy may be the most under the radar guy we have on the team and I look forward to seeing him work this year. He only had 4 carries but averaged 5 yds/carry with a lot coming after contact.

owlykat
owlykat
3 years ago

Good article, Mark. However, who would be the backup for Barber if he went down? What would you think of Ogunbowale in that role. He showed good speed in running back kicks and has enough weight to open his own holes like Barber does.

wnb0395
wnb0395
Reply to  owlykat
3 years ago

Jones is the back up if Barber goes down.

Buc 1976
Buc 1976
3 years ago

How can anyone NOT see the up side in Barber?

plopes808
plopes808
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

+1

Dman
Dman
Reply to  Buc 1976
3 years ago

+2

Horse
Horse
3 years ago

Mark, have to disagree with you about Mike Smith. Your explanation for defending the DC scheme is puzzling? It really hasn’t worked most times. What has our Defensive ranking been these past 3 years?

plopes808
plopes808
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

+1000

scubog
scubog
Reply to  Horse
3 years ago

After 2016, with the same scheme, folks were desperate for Mike Smith to return. Players win……not schemes.

fredster
fredster
3 years ago

Hargreaves couldn’t cover and was timid last year, plus D line sucked balls horse so can’t fault Smitty much, although I think he should at least tried to blitz since here was zero pressure otherwise.

makski
makski
Reply to  fredster
3 years ago

Hargraves can cover, but only in press, he is not very good in the off scheme that Smith deploys most of the time. Actually, ALL of our CB’s are better in press coverage except for Grimes. Difference is that the young CB’s, except for Hargraves, seem to be at least competent in off.

plopes808
plopes808
Reply to  makski
3 years ago

+1 This year’s rookie DBs are making VH3 feel the heat and the competition should help everyone. Factor in the improved Dline and it’s looking pretty promising