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.

Question: Who is RB1 now – RoJo or Leonard Fournette?

Answer: That is to be determined, but I don’t believe anything changes after just one week. There is no question Leonard Fournette came in and sealed the Bucs’ 31-17 win over the Panthers with his 46-yard touchdown jaunt to the end zone late in the fourth, but maybe that is exactly how Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich want it to play out this season. Start Ronald Jones II as the feature back then bring Fournette in as the closer.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II- Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Scott Reynolds believes it is only a matter of time before Fournette, who had 104 yards rushing and two touchdowns while averaging 8.6 yards per carry, supplants Jones as the featured back, and maybe that is how it plays out. But I don’t think it happens anytime soon. We saw Peyton Barber hold on to the starting job for a good part of the season last year and part of that was the trust factor the staff had in Barber. I think that is the same thing at this point in 2020. Jones has had a season and two training camps in Arians’s scheme and knows the playbook and his responsibilities much better than Fournette, who is a recent addition.

And who starts could also be situational – based on film study of their upcoming opponents. Jones and Fournette are fairly similar backs, but also have a few things that are unique to themselves. I am not sure if Fournette has the burst to get around the edge like Jones did on his 7-yard touchdown run on Sunday, and I don’t know if Jones breaks the long game-sealing run like Fournette did.

Question: What happened to Shaq Barrett? For the first two games he has not been all that disruptive. Is it the offenses just game planning around him or is he just not as good as we thought he would be?

Answer: Tampa Bay outside linebacker Shaq Barrett didn’t notch 19.5 sacks last year by accident. But just as we are now very aware of Barrett and that sack total, so are opponents. He isn’t going to surprise anyone this year, and that means getting more attention from opponents.

I think the Bucs’ five sacks on Sunday will help open things up for Barrett to get more one-on-one opportunities. Opponents can’t double-team everyone, and if others start getting sacks in bunches it will force offensives to put more resources in stopping others as opposed to concentrating on Barrett. The fact that Barrett is also playing on the left side this year with Jason Pierre-Paul playing on the right side may be a factor, too.

Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett
Bucs OLB Shaquil Barrett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Another factor is the first two quarterbacks he has faced this season are QBs who don’t hold on to the ball very long, particularly New Orleans’ Drew Brees. That makes a difference as well. And while Barrett doesn’t have the glamour sacks that fans love, he is still playing his tail off and I have seen him doing some dirty work on the edge and even with backside pursuit on running plays. That is something I like about Barrett’s game. He is a well-rounded player – not a pass rushing diva that if he doesn’t get to the quarterback, gives up on the play.

I think his numbers will improve, and maybe it starts on Sunday against his former team the Denver Broncos, who will be starting Jeff Driskel at quarterback as opposed to Drew Lock, who suffered a shoulder injury on Sunday. Add in the fact that the Broncos offensive line isn’t very good through two weeks and I see Barrett having a big game.

Question: How would evaluate Donovan Smith’s play vs. the Panthers after his abysmal performance last week?

Answer: Measurably better. Even the penalty that Donovan Smith got for holding wasn’t a typical, drag-a-guy-down penalty. Smith manhandled and mauled a Panthers player and planted his into the turf at Raymond James. I am guessing during film review with his coaches on Tuesday, that play will be applauded and not criticized. The Bucs want to see that physically dominating side of Smith come out more. He has it in him without a doubt.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I think Smith took the criticism personally last week when preparing for the Panthers, as he should have. His game last week was really bad. But as bad as it was against the Saints, it was equally as good against the Panthers. And that is the frustrating thing about Smith. When he wants to be, he can be a Top 10 tackle in the NFL. Here’s to hoping he finally finds that consistency that will give his harshest critics, myself included, no more ammunition.

Question: What’s the deal with all the dropped passes Sunday? Two dropped touchdowns ain’t good.

Answer: It really was three touchdowns dropped. Scotty Miller started it off, Cyril Grayson let one bounce off of his helmet, and LeSean McCoy had the best pass Tom Brady has thrown as a Buccaneers slip through his hands.

The blustery conditions had to have factored in somewhat, although I don’t recall many passed dropped by the Panthers. And it wasn’t just the touchdown passes that were dropped. The Athletic’s Greg Auman tweeted out a great stat last night.


By Auman’s account, Brady could have been 31-of-35 on the afternoon. And that would have pushed him over 300 yards easily if eight more balls had been caught – especially those three touchdowns. I am sure that will be a point of emphasis in practice this week. Tampa Bay can afford to drop eight balls against a lowly team like the 0-2 Panthers, but against better teams, that type of performance more likely ends up as a loss for Tampa Bay instead of a win.

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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DannyC

Man that stiff arm that Rojo gave was brutal, but he has yet to break one in 3 years and Fournette broke one in his 2nd game. He should be the main carry guy going forward.

The drop by Scotty Miller and Shady were brutal as it went right through their hands.

I loved the improvement on the offense on just one week. Can’t wait to see what happens next week. Von Miller is out and I think their 1 corner is out as well.

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liquidmuse3

Yeah, the answer to the drops is all three guys just aren’t that good.

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fredster

The Rojo stiff arm was great! If they stay healthy we have 3 very good backs now. Starting Jones and letting Fournette finish out games like Alstott might work great. Mccoy in as change pace and receiving mainly.

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fredster

Light isn’t perfect but I’m so glad Licht flooded RB position its position gets hurt a lot and I really didn’t want to go into the season with Ogunbwale or one those nobody clowns as back up! All proven guys now.

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DT25

I don’t really understand the obsession with a “starting” RB some of our fans and media guys like Reynolds seem to have. Is it because of the like 5 teams in the league who still use one primary back for like 90% of their team’s carries? We have a great system in place to keep all of our RBs fresh. This is the exact split I’m sure this coaching staff envisioned when they added Fournette…having a fresh RB to close against a gassed defense is going to be important for this team, especially down the final stretch of the season.… Read more »

Buc stops here

I am with you. I don’t particularly think the Bucs really care who is starting, but whoever gets the most done will get the most carries. It happened this week with Jones starting and being effective with Fournette getting more carries overall and being even more effective. Not to mention LeSean McCoy who got in the game as well with a few carries, a few catches, and the big drop in the end zone (he caught the other passes). Arians/Leftwich like the three headed monster in the backfield and I assume it will stay this season. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb… Read more »

cobraboy

The NFL has evolved into situational football.

For that reason, beyond the OL, the term “starter” is pretty much inop…

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Greg Abdul

they have to be a secondary threat with Brady and our receivers causing D’s to backpedal on every snap.

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bucballer

U just can’t have the dropped passes. Period! It changed the entire dynamics of the game. Got to put games away when u have the chance. Shady’s drop was really ugly. Great ball. U have to make that catch especially when u r a primarily the receiving RB.

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Buc stops here

Note: LeSean McCoy had 5 catches for 26 yards. Yes, he missed the biggest catch of his game but he was 5 of 7. The guy is a rookie. Of more concern are the tight ends, starting with Gronkowski. What is he doing? No catches, little blocking – he is quickly becoming the forgotten tight end. Only one pass in his direction all day. Howard had three thrown his way, caught one. That is it for the TE position.

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Buc stops here

Sorry, McCoy is no rookie. That was a typo. The point was out of the backfield he was the most reliable pass catcher they had all day.

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buddah

Maybe fans should now believe that utilizing tight ends is not usually part of this coach’s game plan.

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bucballer

U don’t drop TDs! Period!

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bucballer

Perhaps Fournette should be the primary RB and RoJo could be the change of pace back?

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Buc stops here

The Bucs use a three headed beast backfield, using Fournette, RoJo, and McCoy. it is what they did last year with RoJo, Peyton Barber, and Dare Ogunbowale. You should not care who starts – it is more important who get the carries. In game 2, the most carries were with Fournette. It what they did last year and Barber started all year – and RoJo had more carries overall. I suspect the same will happen this year. They go with the person who knows the playbook best first and that is RoJo, not Fournette who has literally been with the… Read more »

bucballer

Yes, it is what they did last year. And 2 of the 3 backs that shared touches last year were cut! Fournette is the best RB on the roster. It’s just a matter of time.

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DT25

Arians just confirmed he prefers this rotation to keep Fournette fresh for later in games. He likes him as the “closer.” I don’t expect much to change anytime soon. RoJo will have his days, too. Do think Fournette eventually takes over as the “1A”…but he’ll never be a 75%+ touch guy. That’s not what this coaching staff wants and honestly, shouldn’t. Fresh Fournette against gassed defense = profit.

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bucballer

I agree with that DT25. It is just a matter of time before Fournette’s play will demand more touches. Also, I don’t like how they keep using RoJo. Get the man outside of the tackles as well. I really think that’s the key to RoJo finding his groove.

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DT25

Agree with that. Would like to see more screens and swing passes sent his way to make that happen, too. Let Fournette be the interior punisher…find some more creative ways to get RoJo in space outside the tackle box.

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Buc stops here

I am hopeful for this Bucs team to break the monkey’s back in Denver. They have played there only five times in the history of the franchise, winning once in 1993. So neither Dungy nor Gruden have won there. Sam Wyche, who was a Bucs coach for three years going 23-41, managed a win in Denver. Von Miller being out may help. Their #1 QB possibly being out could help too. It is going to be very tough in Denver despite the fact they are 0-2, and it will be whoever plays with fewer errors will win this next one.… Read more »

buddah

I agree. The Broncos lost by 2 points and 5 points to playoff caliber teams. This is not an easy out.

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surferdudes

They won’t be a easy out, and neither will the Chargers who almost beat the champs be. This is the NFL, most games are dog fights till the end. Why was Grayson, who ever the hell that is, even in the game? What happened to our 6th round pick? Watson quietly had a good game. If that flea flicker isn’t under thrown he would’ve walked in for the TD. Grayson was a track guy at LSU, he wasn’t on their football team, and shouldn’t be on ours. He’s a track guy, not a football player. Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

awwdembucs

Denver will be hungry for a win. Trape game. GO BUCS

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bucballer

Buc r beginning to put it all together. We need the TEs to get involved. We need Shaq to continue to press and get to the QB. Brady is starting to get comfortable back there. I think the best is yet to come. If we could just put all three aspects of the game: offense, defense, special teams together in the same game then we will see the potential this team has. Keep grinding! One game at a time. Go Bucs!

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Dave

For the Brady sucks camp, read that dropped pass stat from yesterday. It’s cute when people read boxscores, instead of watching the game. Anybody that WATCHED the game, should have seen that Brady was damn near perfect for most the game. And in my opinion, was perfect in the 1st half. His stats line should have been roughly 30-35 for 375, 4 TD’s 1 int, 10.7 YPA, 86%, and probably very close to a perfect 158.3 QB Rating. Brady looked like Brady yesterday. Plain and simple

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buclover1988

I completely agree.

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scubog

You’re right about that Dave. I often wonder if some folks watched the same game that I did and if they did watch, was it with some predetermined agenda? Watched the Saints-Raiders game last night and witnessed a pancake block just like the one made by our favorite whipping boy #76 and no flag. Hmmmmm.

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Greg Abdul

Love the Bucs…and have to give it to management. I complained I wanted Jonathan Taylor and they may have gotten a better back for a steal in signing Fournette. Biggest thing I saw wrong Sunday was dropped balls…Al Bundy talking about high school football here, but one of the big letdowns a team can have is receivers dropping balls. Evans and Godwin won’t be there every week dominating. Scotty and Justin MUST make plays every week. And to be fair, the biggest drop Sunday was McCoy’s. If Fournette ends up being our best player on offense, we won’t go far… Read more »

liquidmuse3

Conspiracy theory, since it’s the only thing that makes sense: the Bucs are having Barrett play to LOLB to drive down his stats and make him more affordable 🤷🏻‍♂️

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