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: Will Mike Smith’s defense ever not be predictable?

Answer: Does a bear….. in the woods? Kidding. Kind of. I mean lets be honest here, Monte Kiffin will probably end up in the Bucs’ Ring of Honor and the late 70’s and early 80’s Bucs defenses were never some crazy heavy blitzing, catch-you-by-surprise type of defenses. Those teams dominated, not with unpredictability and crazy formations, but with talent and a fairly simple scheme that the players could run in their sleep.

I am kind of a fan of just lining up and saying my guys are going to kick your guy’s (blanks) for the next three hours. If anything, it could be argued the Mike Smith’s defenses, since his time here in Tampa, were too complicated. Remember his first season when they started the season and they were awful until after the bye week? They simplified things, made a few adjustments and worked on better communication, and boom – you had one of the league’s best defenses over the last half of the season.

Talent is key. If you have the horses to stop the run then you are ahead of the game, and you can keep the opposing offense behind the chains. The more exotic you get the more chances you have of giving up a big play or you have communication issues leading to breakdowns. I think if this team stays healthy they can generate enough pass rush with just four, then throw in a few linebacker/corner blitzes to keep teams on their toes, they can win a lot of games.

Question:  Bucs offense looks good so far, is this a sign of things to come or fools gold?

Answer: It has looked great so far, and you do have to wonder if part of it is Todd Monken taking over play calling, and 0.if it continues into the regular season. The Bucs have as good of an offense – on paper at least – as any in the league, and certainly have the most talent in the history of the franchise. But, as a fan of these reality cooking shows, you can have all the ingredients in the world in the kitchen, but if the chef doesn’t have the vision, or the execution, you can ruin even the finest cut of meat.

Luck plays into it as well. The Bucs have to get their offensive line healthy and hope it can stay that way through the season. If they can do that I have confidence in Koetter and Monken in the kitchen this year and think it can be special season offensively.

Question: Will Rojo be a bust?

Answer: Yikes. Bust is a strong word. I think there is no question that through the first three weeks of the preseason Jones’ performance has been disappointing, averaging just a little over a yard per carry and not showing the flash we saw from his college tape at USC. But the good news is that the Bucs don’t need him to be the NFC rookie of the year to have success. I think it is still way too early to make any judgements on a player, and the team internally thinks he will be just fine. Maybe not as fast of a development as they hoped, but aren’t even thinking in terms of a bust.

Jones didn’t lost any speed, wiggle or burst since leaving college, he is just trying to figure out how to put it all together against NFL talent and in an NFL playbook.

Question: With all the depth we have, will a WR trade happen before or after the season starts?

Answer: We got a lot of questions earlier this year about it the Bucs might consider trading Adam Humphries or DeSean Jackson before the season started and I felt like they wanted to see this collection of guys together another year. I really think the only way we see the team move a receiver is if the season is lost early and they start purging the roster for future draft picks. Even then I don’t know if they move anyone, only because if the season starts awful, Koetter and general manager Jason Licht won’t be here next year most likely, and so what would it matter if they traded players for draft picks?

I think they live and die with the guys they have and see what the win tally is at the end of the year.

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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]

24 COMMENTS

  1. Please let Monken continue to call the plays in the regular season.

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  2. The funny thing is most other analysts would say it is unrealistic fans that would say the Bucs could be the best offense in the NFL. However, a reasonable look at the Bucs offense reveals a team that could be top three in the league, assuming the offensive line stays relatively healthy and Fitz plays well over the first three games.

    If the Bucs defense can be a middle of the road defense then I would expect this team will win a lot of games this year. If the defense is anywhere close to as bad as last year then I would expect the Bucs will have a loosing record and a new coaching staff next year.

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    • Bucs have best receiving corps in the league. Nobody else is even close.

      What’s holding us back from being the top offense is our running game and O line.
      But, we’re pretty dang close, y’all.

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      • Pete, we do have some good WR. It is probably our deepest position. I wouldn’t say there is nobody even close. Raiders have Cooper, Jordy Nelson, and Martavis Bryant. Chiefs have Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelcie. Eagles have Jeffries, Mike Wallace, Ertz, and Agholor. Even the Giants with OBJ, Brandon Marshal, and Sheppard is a nice trio. The Vikings with Diggs, Thielen, Treadwell, and wright have a good WR core. With the exception of the Raiders, all those teams have great RBs also. I really like Barber and think he will be a good back if our Oline can get healthy and stay that way.

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        • If I’m not mistaken B. Marshall is with Seattle this year.

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  3. Mark, Maybe you were too young to remember, we did a lot of blitzing with, Brooks, Lynch, Reynolds,Barber. Bucs defense wasn’t predictable with Tiffin.

    Good Article though.

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    • Sorry Horse. Maybe YOU’RE too young to remember. We did NOT blitz a lot under Kiffin (not Tiffin). Even today the Bucs defenders of that time say that they ran what they ran saying “here we are; you know what we are doing, beat us if you can;…and they couldn’t.” Brooks, with his speed could have been a great blitzed but he was also great in coverage and was used much more that way. They did blitz occasionally but not very much.

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      • With our D-line, we didn’t have to blitz a lot although we did blitz more than we have lately. I do remember Lynch constantly playing around the line of scrimmage and Barber blitzing a lot out of the slot. If I remember right I think Barber had 5.5 sacks one year which would have been 2nd on our team last season. We didn’t blitz out LBs hardly at all though.

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  4. I agree with Mark, you don’t have to be a tricksey defense in order to surprise an offense, you just need to execute the defense correctly. I am cautiously optimistic considering what I have seen overall with the team in the preseason. For a rare change, the team actually has executed pretty well the basic offense and defensive plays, looks confident and looks like a real NFL team. I have seen *so* many years where that has not happened and while I fully understand that doing well in the preseason doesn’t always translate to doing well in the regular season. Well, I am here to tell you that when the team has looked lousy in the preseason, they almost always looked lousy in the regular season, so I’m hopeful that what I am seeing this year IS a precursor to good play in the regular season.

    I’m not ready to say they are ready for the post season, but as I said above, I am starting to feel more optimistic than I thought I would be after the debacle that was last season.

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  5. If Koetter is prepared to jettison Smitty in favor of Buckner if Smitty’s system drags down our team again and is costing us wins, I think we have the talent to make the playoffs this year. Koetter also needs to let his Offensive Coordinator continue to call plays. Monken also needs to monitor Warhop closely and hold him accountable for his inept decision making!

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    • What? Talk about completely undeserved for Buckner. It’s not like the D-Line’s preseason performances have blown people away. Riding on too much hype here.

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      • Agreed! We’re supposed to have all this talent and Buckner was supposed to turn things around – NOT. The D line play has been very disappointing. JPP hasn’t sniffed a sack and none of those other free agent acquisitions have done anything!!! Why would we elevate a guys that has not produced!!!

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        • Half of our D-line have been out hurt so how can you judge already? I think they have performed accordingly with all the injuries that have occurred.

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      • We will see when regular season starts.

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    • I like Coach Buck as much as the next guy, but he’s not ready to be a defensive Coordinator. Smith takes a lot of abuse because of last season, but the truth is that he was extremely short on talent last year. I expect defensive play more along the lines of the 2016 season. About middle of the pack overall with some good performances sprinkled in (assuming that that the defensive line can get and stay somewhat healthy).

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  6. Perspective:
    If the Team look very poor in the preseason we would be very concerned about what we expect in the regular season. I am happy to see the offense clicking with all three QBs and even the defense holding their own. The alternative would be very poor and not give this Team optimism heading in to the season.

    Don’t minimize what this Team has done in the preseason as the alternative would be much worse….

    I am truly concerned about RoJo though. He has not shown ANYTHING outside of the nice catch. NOTHING…
    It really sucks cause I want to see him do well for all of our sakes.

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    • RoJo ran decently behind the starters before getting bottled up again Friday. He’s been hit at or behind the line almost every carry he’s had (seriously, someone did a film analysis on it). He’ll be fine. I was more concerned with the reports about his hands, but he squashed that almost entirely in my eyes with the nice catch he made on the go route. We need to use him differently than he have been, it’s really that simple. Scheme him into space, stop trying to run him up the gut out of I-formation. We do that, I have faith he’ll look far better and end all this nonsense bust talk once and for all.

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  7. I agree with nitey and Buc-N-Philly… cautiously optimistic with how we’ve looked in preseason. Doesn’t prove anything yet, but there have been preseason games in recent years where we’ve looked utterly confused from the get-go. Hopefully it’s at least a competent team this year. Griffin has been a nice surprise. Sure it’s against mostly 2s and 3s but against that same level a couple years ago he looked historically bad.

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  8. Monken calls 3 Pre – Season games with basic plays and now he needs to be calling plays??? He looked good because the players did there jobs. We are loaded on Offense. 3 good QB’s, 5 or 6 Good to Great Wr’s, Great TE’s. That’s why we looked great. Anybody that calls plays in the Pre – Season would probably have done just as well. Nothing against Monken who was just calling basic plays. Come on guys… Are you sure you want someone who’s called (3) Pre-Season Games compared to Koetter who has called like (180) NFL Games??
    We have a bad season in 2017 mostly thanks to No Running Game, No Defense and No Kicking Game, and Hard Knocks. Koetter wasn’t that big of a problem. I am sure he will do better with 2 years as a HC / Play Caller.
    Im OK if Monken’s calls the plays if Coach thinks its a good idea but I don’t think it’s a must. Especially it’s a prove it season for Coach Koetter. If it was my job on the line I wouldn’t hand the Play Calling over to a Rookie Play Caller. Maybe if we dominate the NFL this year and go to the Playoffs than Monken could possibly Call Plays next year. And if Monken can’t handle it (which He probably can) than you can just take the Play Calling back from him. GO BUCS!!!

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  9. If WR Justin Watson comes on this year the way Godwin did last year, trading a WR to a contender might make sense. Is there a contender with a good OL player to trade for a good WR?

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  10. IF the Bucs win 8 or 9 games and Koetter survives, Mike Smith must go.

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  11. No predictions here. Basically, I like what I saw during “practice” season. But no game plans and mediocre competition. I doubt very much if Winston will start Game 4. I’m a fan so I’m optimistic. The roster is above average and the coaching staff overall is too. They’ve played the same schemes for three years. That’s an advantage especially when there are a fairly higher number of veterans on the team. There is no team on the schedule that we can’t beat; we just have to make the plays at crunch time and there is no crunch time in the NFL. The running game will be improved and so will the defensive line. Everything will be decided by (a) quarterback play; (b) offensive line play and injuries; and (c.) improvement in the secondary. If all three improve, we will make the playoffs; two out of three will mean 8 or 9 wins; one or fewer 6 or seven wins.
    Saints are currently favored by 9.5 points in Game One. That sure fells like a good wager. Hard to image the Buccaneers not scoring at least 24 points. The Buccaneers showed very little of the running game in Preseason. I expect you’ll see a lot more balance. To compete with the Saints, they will need at least 100 yards on the ground.

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  12. If we don’t do some blitzing against Brees we will not win. He’s still mobile so we have to send somebody.

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  13. “Even then I don’t know if they move anyone, only because if the season starts awful, Koetter and general manager Jason Licht won’t be here next year most likely, and so what would it matter if they traded players for draft picks?”

    Wasn’t Jason Licht already extended for next year? Even with an awful year I don’t think he’s going anywhere, and I don’t think he should. This team is extremely talented. If they don’t win it’s because Mike Smith’s scheme is ancient, Koetter was too stubborn to let Monken call plays, and because he was calling plays Dirk wasn’t able to manage the game appropriately leading to close game losses that should have been wins.

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