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.
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.
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.
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.
How many drops in Bucs’ game today? Tom Brady went 23-for-35, and looking at his 12 incompletions, only three were uncatchable. Eight went off target’s hands, one off Grayson’s helmet. Seven different players, too. Didn’t do much to help their QB in Sunday’s win.
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) September 21, 2020
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.