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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag  Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: Does it seem like Devin White has really regressed? He’s abysmal most times in coverage and doesn’t make as many splash plays as in the past to at least offset that.

ANSWER: There is no denying that Devin White’s play has taken a step back this year. The Bucs coaches won’t tell you that in order to either keep White’s confidence up or just to make excuses for their star inside linebacker and team captain. It’s not always fair to grade a player’s performance by the stat sheet, but the fact that he has made zero splash through the first eight games this year is alarming.

Bucs ILB Devin White

Bucs ILB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

If a team needs a tackling machine, it doesn’t spend a Top 5 pick on an off-ball linebacker. The Bucs used their fifth overall pick on White in 2019 because he’s a tackling machine and an incredible athlete with big-play capabilities. White had a career-high nine sacks, two interceptions, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 2020 in both the regular season and postseason combined.

Where is that guy? It’s been eight games and White has yet to record a takeaway or a sack. We’ve seen a lot of tackles, but a number of misses, too. Plus, he hasn’t grown as a leader, as I pointed out in my 2-Point Conversion column. White is capable of so much more. He has Pro Bowl talent, but it has to start showing up on Sundays on a consistent basis.

QUESTION: Saints went to same DB backfield as Game 1 last season for the last drive. Why did Bucs not see it and throw deeper routes when Saints were giving underneath easily. Could have had four plays to get into field range. Did they get greedy?

ANSWER: It seemed like Tampa Bay may have gotten a little greedy at the end of Sunday’s 36-27 loss at New Orleans. Quarterback Tom Brady and the Bucs trailed the Saints by two points, but had 1:41 left with a timeout. It’s not illogical to think that Brady was going to drive the Bucs down the field for another game-winning Ryan Succop field goal.

Saints defensive back P.J. Williams had other ideas, stepping in front of wide receiver Chris Godwin for a pick-six that proved to be the dagger on Halloween. Brady didn’t see Williams on the play.

“Bad throws,” Brady said after the game. “Just threw it to the wrong guy. I had Mike open. Cost us the game.”

The Bucs had travel about 45 yards to get into Succop’s range, and trailing by two, the team had all four downs at its disposal. In hindsight it’s easy to say that Brady should have thrown underneath instead. Way more often than not Brady avoids the turnovers that come with risky throws. And he usually drives the Bucs down the field for the game-winning points. Even the G.O.A.T. can have an off day.

QUESTION: Are players penalized for their penalties? Maybe fined or something?

ANSWER: The Collective Bargaining Agreement rules does not allow for NFL teams to fine players for getting penalties. That’s not to say that some teams don’t go rouge and violate this and impose certain levies, although that practice likely happened more back in the day than in today’s NFL. I remember there being a certain former Bucs secondary coach that used to fine his defensive backs if they dropped interceptions.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The most discipline an NFL coach can impose on today’s players is to bench them. But when it’s a starter like Jason Pierre-Paul or Shaquil Barrett jumping offsides, is replacing either with Anthony Nelson any better?  If Ross Cockrell gets flagged for defensive holding like he did on a critical third-and-5 in New Orleans in the fourth quarter, who is Todd Bowles going to replace him with? The Bucs are out of bodies in the secondary. Should Devin White get benched in favor of aging inside linebacker Kevin Minter, who is not nearly the play-maker that White is?

All the Bucs coaches can continue to do is talk with the players and show them how the team’s 11 penalties for 99 yards against the Saints cost them the game. It’s up to the players to hold themselves accountable and avoid mistakes. Losing a winnable game should be enough of an incentive. It was last year with a penalty-ridden, 20-19 loss at Chicago in Week 5.

QUESTION: Besides Mike Evans and Chris Godwin how do you think the other receivers looked?

ANSWER: Tyler Johnson has been outstanding for the Bucs in Antonio Brown’s absence. While he’s not the explosive playmaker than Brown is, Johnson has proven to be a reliable pass-catcher that can move the chains. He had a career-high six catches for 65 yards and only had one drop, but it came in garbage time. Johnson has a career-high 14 catches for 191 yards (13.6 avg.) this season after catching 12 passes for 169 yards (14.1 avg.) and two touchdowns last year as a rookie.

In addition to Johnson, Cyril Grayson made a huge, 50-yard touchdown catch in New Orleans on Sunday. The former LSU track star scored his first NFL TD on his second-ever catch. Grayson has been seldom used and was activated from the practice squad on Saturday. He’s got speed to burn and may have earned himself a few more Sunday activations and perhaps a few reps on offense after Sunday. He was certainly more impressive than rookie Jaelon Darden, who had three catches for 11 yards against the Saints.

QUESTION: Are we witnessing fools gold with this Bucs team? Even if they finish 14-3 with their only other loss to the Bills, what do we make of this team? Throw out Week 1 and and they still will have not beaten one quality team the whole season.

ANSWER: The Bucs didn’t make their schedule. They can’t control which teams they play and which ones they don’t play. If Tampa Bay plays a clean game in New Orleans and doesn’t commit 11 penalties for 99 yards and lose the turnover battle 3-0, the Bucs are 7-1 right now. But that didn’t happen. Turnovers can be great equalizers.

Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It’s worth noting that both losses to the Rams and the Saints came on the road where there is home-field advantage this year with stadiums back to full capacity following last year’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians has harped on the fact of how home-field advantage in the playoffs will be even more important this year. If Tampa Bay is 14-3 my guess is that the team is at least tied for the lead in the NFC.

I don’t think you can throw out the Bucs’ Week 1 win over the Cowboys, either. Dallas is 7-1 and a field goal away from being undefeated. The Patriots are now 4-4. Looking back, that victory might turn into a quality win. The Saints have won three straight and will likely come to Tampa Bay for the rematch against the Bucs with a winning record. I think the Bucs will have some quality wins on their resumé by the end of the year – even if they lose to the Bills.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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Buc76
Buc76
8 months ago

Just win the NFC South, hope you are at full strength in the playoffs, take one of the 4 seeds and win the 1st game at home then beat whoever is in front of you. Brady in the playoffs with a healthy team is all you can hope for then roll the dice and see what happens.

bucballer
bucballer
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Precisely Buc76! Keep it simple! Forget all the other distractions and just take care of ur own business by beating who lines up across u each week and win the division. Don’t self implode! More man press on the outsides and more play action on offense. Most of all get healthy. Is it time we start splitting JPP minutes with Tryon? I think so. Tryon is the future. JPP is getting long in the tooth and injuries r starting to pile up. Also, White just needs to stay focused and resist the urge to freelance. Stay within the system and… Read more »

pokerpat12
pokerpat12
8 months ago

I applaud your enthusiasm but at the moment I am so mad I just can’t completely concur. The Saints didn’t win yesterday, WE LOST!!!! Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes. Stupid, stupid, stupid. We were Outcoached once again. Payton outcoached Bowles, Allen outcoached Byron & BA and we played a sloppy, undisciplined – stupid game. It was as if we were trying to lose….I never thought this team would suffer from a Super Bowl hangover but if we don’t get it together soon, we can kiss a repeat adieu.

JSW
JSW
Reply to  pokerpat12
8 months ago

Concur.

Spitfire
Spitfire
Reply to  pokerpat12
8 months ago

We were not out coached. Take away the untypical turnovers and we win handily. The Saints simply match up perfectly against us, they have for a while, our injuries hurt us finally in the secondary and the turnovers out the nail in the coffin for us. Play that game again and we win, which we will next time we play them.

Kimba
Kimba
Reply to  pokerpat12
8 months ago

read my post above HAD IT WITH THE POOR PLAY FROM TEAM CAPTAIN DEVIN WHITE AND HIS FOOLISH GAME COSTING PENALTIES!. BENCH HIM TILL HE GROWS UP, trade his sorry arse asap today! set an example with that.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  pokerpat12
8 months ago

Eh. The Saints have a better coaching staff than we do, but I don’t think coaching was really the problem Sunday. Tor me, when you talk about getting outcoached, you’re talking about getting beaten schematically. That’s not what happened. Terrible penalties and even worse turnovers were the culprit. Brady had TyJo open for an easy completion on the sack fumble when he held the ball for almost 3 full seconds (I timed it). He threw right into the arms of a waiting zone defender on the first INT, and he did it again when he had Evans open on the… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie
8 months ago

I think if you’re BA you should absolutely consider benching Devin White for a game or two to send a strong message to him…SR’s argument that Minter can’t make the plays that White can, but he doesn’t cost em as much as White has so far this season. Let him stew on his crap play for a couple games.

Kimba
Kimba
Reply to  Charlie
8 months ago

read my post–many of us out here are fed up with devin white.
BENCH DEVIN WHITE OR TRADE HIM NEXT TIME HE COMMITS A TAUNTING OR A HORSE COLLAR TACKLE. HE COSTED US THE SAINTS GAME. HE IS NOT WORTH IT AND NEEDS HIS CAPTAIN PATCH REMOVED.

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Charlie
8 months ago

Minter is a better player than White is right now, full stop. It was honestly close even when Devin was making the splash plays, but a decent argument could be made that his fundamentally weaker play was more than made up for by his big impact moments. With those not happening (which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as turnovers and blitzes getting home are high variance results, not plays that can be counted on on game to game), he’s the worst defender on the field for us, and it’s not close. Minter has clear limitations, but he’s at least… Read more »

JSW
JSW
8 months ago

I put this loss on Todd Bowles (and Arians), as much as I do the players. As coaches, they talk about putting their players in the best position to be successful. If they they have been using Devin White a little differently this year (whether they feel it’s something Devin needs to be able to do to grow as a player, or otherwise), 8 games is more than enough to prove it’s NOT been successful! 27 points should have been enough to win this game – against a 3rd string quarterback who never expected to play and only one playmaker… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by JSW
Mike Pengelly
Mike Pengelly
8 months ago

To win the NFC South:
Bucs 6-2 play the following winning teams Bills & Saints
Saints 5-2 play Titans Bills Cowboys & Bucs
I think we can do it. Let’s see more play action though….a lot of empty backfields yesterday. Give TB 12 more time and he’ll get ‘er done !!

Joseph
Joseph
8 months ago

I keep hearing where are all the splash plays from Devin shush with all that I would just want him to stay on his assignments. The problem is he keeps trying to make these splash plays and that’s exactly what gets him in bad spots with all the injuries in the secondary bucs definitely don’t need a rogue lb falling off his assignments.

HomerSimpsonRocks
HomerSimpsonRocks
Reply to  Joseph
8 months ago

Totally agree. Just play smart, disciplined football and we win that game going away.

Spitfire
Spitfire
8 months ago

What idiot asked the fools gold question? We went 4-1 while missing a plethora of our most important players at one point or another or at the same time. This team can beat absolutely anybody when they don’t beat themselves, even missing those players. After the Bye we will be at 90-100% healthy and that loss right there will fuel this team (especially Brady) moving forward and I have a good feeling we will see a change in discipline as well. We have been winning despite the penalties but it contributed to the loss yesterday (even though we still almost… Read more »

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Spitfire
8 months ago

t wasn’t me, but if this team fails to beat a worthwhile opponent the rest of the way, it will prove to be a fair question about which to worry. We beat Dallas at home, needing a late drive and last second field goal to do so. We got handily beaten by LAR, and we lost by two scores to NO. We only have NO and BUF, both at home, as good teams left on our schedule. If we were to lose those, then yea, or even if we just lose to BUF and it’s not that close, I’d be… Read more »

Theydidwhat
Theydidwhat
8 months ago

Reminded me a lot of the Bears game last year. They could have won, even with the injuries, penalties and turnovers. It will have an effect. Listen how down Brady is in the post game interview. 45 needs to play like a captain!

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  Theydidwhat
8 months ago

Fair comparison, IMO. We were pretty clearly the better team Sunday, we just couldn’t stop beating ourselves with very avoidable mistakes.

GoldsonAges
GoldsonAges
8 months ago

White hasnt regressed. He has never been as good as the media has made him out to be. Media hyped White as the best LB in the entire NFL this offseason but he has never even been the best LB on this TEAM. It was a wasted draft pick. We would be better off with Kevin Minter in there White is a clueless out of position fool who cant cover a leaf with a blanket

toofamiliar17
toofamiliar17
Reply to  GoldsonAges
8 months ago

I detect no lies here. And here I thought I was the only one at PR not eagerly pouring the Devin White Kool-Aid down my throat every week. He’s got all the potential in the world. And he was excellent last playoffs, for which I am and will always be grateful. But for basically the rest of his career, he’s been consistently TERRIBLE as a pass defender, except occasionally when he’s blitzing. People get blinded by impressive box scores with defensive players, but his fundamental play behind those splash plays has always been bad. Like, REALLY bad.

HomerSimpsonRocks
HomerSimpsonRocks
8 months ago

Devin White yaps too much and doesn’t play well enough, consistently enough. His IG page today showed pics of him glaring with the caption “Misunderstood”. How about “Overrated”?

scubog
scubog
8 months ago

My take on Devin White is that, as a youngster, he has developed an inflated opinion of himself and simply doesn’t play smart because he thinks being physically superior to his opponent will be enough. Perhaps he has been humbled a bit and will now start listening more to the coaches and Lavonte.

JayBuc52
JayBuc52
8 months ago

I am a little concerned that Brady, despite the number of touchdowns he has thrown, has not been sharp late in games and has left quite a few touchdowns escape him in the second half of games over the past few weeks. Receivers have been open and he has missed them.

Kimba
Kimba
8 months ago

What do the Bucs do about penalties? They find out what the least penalized teams are doing to keep their penalties down and then they start doing that. Somebody needs to get fired and somebody needs to get benched and then another somebody needs to be fired and and another somebody needs benching. Take it seriously or get out of the league–goes for coaches and immature players like devin white with his taunting penalty and horse collar–how can he not realize he caused us to lose this game! There was no reason for gholston to get his penalty either–some of… Read more »

Benjamin
Benjamin
8 months ago

The Aint’s game was another one of those ugly games you wouldn’t expect this bucs team to have. I mean they won the Super Bowl last year but you wouldn’t have known watching this game. Tom was off in this game, he missed what would have been a TD pass to Mike Evans when Evans beat Lattimore, Tom had quite a few poor throws including the 2 INT’s, then you throw in a fumble where Tom just sat on the ground looking at the ball like he was amazed the ball didn’t just levitate right back to him and when… Read more »

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3
8 months ago

Wait a minute Scott. Is Joe Tryon still on the team? Why are you putting Nelson over him as the JPP sub? Such a weird brain fart.
And what is the point of playing Cockrell over Edwards or Winfield? You mean to tell me Russ is faster than either? What are we doing?