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The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReport Twitter 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.

Question: If the Bucs offered Todd Bowles the same amount of money as a head coaching job to remain the DC you think he stays?

Answer: It is possible money might convince Todd Bowles to turn down a head coaching deal I suppose, but with the average NFL head coach salary at $8.5 million per year, the Bucs wouldn’t try and outbid a team to keep him if they are going up against a franchise that want him as their head coach.

Besides the fact the Bucs aren’t going to pay Bowles, say even on the low end for head coaches ($3.5-$4-5 million) salary just to stay on as a high-priced defensive coordinator, Bruce Arians wouldn’t stand in the way of Bowles – or anyone on his staff – from taking a promotion. Arians, who is a guy who at one point never thought he would get a chance to be an NFL head coach before taking over for a sick Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, is all about seeing his assistants better themselves and move on if it is for a promotion.

Bucs DC Todd Bowles

Bucs DC Todd Bowles – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

With that said, while I expect Bowles to generate some interest from NFL teams that have openings, we don’t even know if Bowles is looking to jump back into the head coaching ranks right now. Bowles had an opportunity to be the head coach with the Jets years ago, and for a number of reasons it didn’t work out. Maybe he has decided that he is more comfortable as a coordinator.

Bowles has been asked about returning to the head coaching ranks, but as best as I recall he deflected the question, instead saying he is happy in his current role. And if he did return to the life of being a head coach, taking over for Arians one day in Tampa Bay might be what he desires the most.

When a team has success, it is only natural that the assistants become attractive candidates for other teams hoping some of the magic rubs off on their franchise. The Patriots have lost a number of assistants during Bill Belichick’s time in New England and have always, for the most part, been able to absorb the blows. Even the Buccaneers in their heyday saw multiple coaches who were originally hired by Tony Dungy and later Jon Gruden move on to other positions, including Mike Tomlin, Joe Barry, Rod Marinelli, Herm Edwards and Lovie Smith among others. It is the price that good teams pay for success.

Besides Bowles, we could also see Byron Leftwich get some looks at a head coaching opportunity, and a source tells PewterReport.com that outside linebackers coach Larry Foote could get an interview with the Lions, who are looking to replace Matt Patrica. Foote would be an ideal candidate to be a defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay if Bowles leaves.

Question: I believe the offense will handle business this weekend at Washington, but I’m concerned with the defense. Just because we didn’t punt against Atlanta doesn’t mean you let your opponent do the same thing. Can the defense get back on track this weekend and stop the opponent? 

Answer: I haven’t spent a ton of time watching the Washington Football Team, but from a casual glance there isn’t a ton of offensive firepower – at least not when comparing that team to the like of the Falcons, Saints, Rams, Raiders and Chiefs. While the Bucs’ defense still gives me the most concern moving forward in the playoffs, Washington’s defense will be the difference between winning and losing.

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Rams DT Aaron Donald

Bucs QB Tom Brady and Rams DT Aaron Donald – Photo by: USA Today

Top to bottom, the Bucs are considerably more talented than Washington, but it’s not always about 53-man talent, instead it comes down to the match-ups, particularly in the trenches. The Bucs have struggled protecting quarterback Tom Brady with physical fronts (Saints, Bears, Rams, Chiefs), and I don’t always mean with just sacks. Brady loves – and thrives with – a clean pocket, and while the Rams didn’t sack Brady but one time, he was under duress for many of his drop backs and had to get rid of the ball sooner than the Bucs would have liked and that limited their explosive plays.

Washington’s Chase Young (7.5 sacks) and Montez Sweat (nine sacks) can get after the quarterback, and the entire front seven is a physical unit. Tampa Bay’s offensive line, especially offensive tackles Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs, will need to play one of its best games of the year if the Bucs plan on advancing.

Question: Have we jinxed ourselves with all the talk about wanting the NFC (L)east team? Everyone seems to think it’s an automatic win and I just see this as a huge opportunity for the Bucs to hurt us again.

Answer: Could the Bucs lose next Saturday night? You bet. But this isn’t the same Tampa Bay team of the last 12 years. Fans have to recondition their minds to stop assuming the worst will happen. This isn’t the same Bucs team that lost to the Giants in the playoffs in 2007 or even to the then-Redskins in 2005.

Washington QB Alex Smith

Washington QB Alex Smith – Photo by: USA Today

As far as an automatic win, there are really no such things. But there are teams that the Bucs are clearly are better than that they should beat, and this is one of them. The Washington Football Team was 7-9 for a reason. Washington also played in the worst division in the NFL and lost to the Lions and Panthers. Washington did have different guys under center in those games, and have played better with Alex Smith at the helm, but this is still a 7-9 football team for a reason.

As much as I respect Ron Rivera and all he has went through this season battling cancer, I still would rather have Bruce Arians on my sideline as the head coach with Tom Brady under center.

As I mentioned, the Buccaneers can’t chalk this up as a win and start looking ahead to the divisional round or their season will end on Saturday night. I don’t believe that happens. With this veteran coaching staff and the veteran players on this team, the players won’t be overlooking Washington. The key will be protecting Brady and giving him time. If the Bucs do that, then I don’t know that Washington has enough on offense to keep up with the Buccaneers no matter if Tampa Bay’s defense struggles.

Question: More important person to get back for Wild Card – Mike Evans or Devin White?

Bucs LB and S Jordan Whitehead

Bucs LB and S Jordan Whitehead – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Answer: Devin White will not be able to play on Saturday due to the COVID-19 protocols that require a positive player to quarantine for 10 days. That just doesn’t give White enough time between his testing positive last to game day to meet the standard set forth by the NFL. Like you I am sure, I have seen different things from folks on Twitter claiming that if he has two negative tests or things along those lines he could play, and even White himself tweeted he would be ready for the playoffs. But from all we have gathered and the sources we have spoken to, unless there were to be a rule change, then White can not play.

Evans on the other hand could be ready, but that will be determined as the week goes on. I am not sure the staff wants to risk Mike Evans for this game, as they hope to advance deeper in the playoffs if they win on Saturday night. Of course the playoffs are a string of one-game seasons so teams don’t want to hold anything back and if Evans can go, it will be difficult to keep him from taking the field.

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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 mark@pewterreport.com
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eaustinyoung
8 months ago

Washington has a good defense, and props to Alex Smith. But they are a 7-9 team. Of their 7 wins they beat Philadelphia twice (trash), Cowboys twice (trash), Bengals (trash), and the Steelers with a messed up schedule. Also got swept by the Giants, and lost to the Panthers and Lions. Yes the Bucs lost to the Rams, Chiefs, and Saints. But their only shameful loss was against a mediocre Bears because of penalties. (Yes the 2nd Saints game was a dumpster fire too but before the season everyone expected the Saints to beat the brakes off them) Good teams… Read more »

Buc76
8 months ago

This is type of game where Beast Mode started don’t forget. The 7-9 NFC West Champs Home team Seahawks beat the Saints in the playoffs. This is a dangerous matchup. 4 1st round picks on that line. They better get back to Brady getting rid of the ball quick to avoid the pass rush. This line will not hold up for deep shots down the field. Be smart Arians. Don’t waste this opportunity.

Pete Wood
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Before every single game the Bucs have had against teams with losing records, Bucs fans start quaking in their boots, because the opponent is “dangerous” or “underrated.” The Bucs won every one of those games. The Bucs shouldn’t look past Washington, but they shouldn’t be scared either. Washington, as others have pointed out, is 7-9 for a reason. Bucs will be ready and steamroll over this “dangerous” opponent.

eaustinyoung
Reply to  Pete Wood
8 months ago

“Don’t sleep on the Giants it’s Brady’s kryptonite”
“Don’t sleep on the Vikings, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson are on fire”
“Don’t sleep on the Falcons, Raheem Morris and Dirk Koetter are looking for revenge”
“Don’t sleep on the Panthers, divisional games are always hard”

rocky
8 months ago

I think the loss of Devin white and how it hurts this team will be extremely evident. If Mike evans can’t go I am confident in our pass catchers to get the job done without much of a hiccup. White on the other hand was just starting to really get going and Bowles was sending him consistently to go hunt the QB (four sacks in last two games). Alex smith would of been an easy target to bring down and white would of killed so many drives and plays just by getting pressure.

RW
RW
Reply to  rocky
8 months ago

Sorry to disagree but Washington has a “Superbowl” level defense and a “college” level offense. White missing won’t have anywhere near the effect if Mike Evans can’t play.

Buc76
8 months ago

Go watch Superbowl 3. Joe Namath kept getting rid of the ball dumping it off when the Colts would blitz or pressure him. The Colts were stupid because they didn’t adapt. If the Bucs don’t adjust the offense to a quicker release to handle that Washington defensive line they will lose.

Pete Wood
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

If the Bucs are going to win this game, they better hurry up and sign Broadway Joe.

Naplesfan
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Looking to Super Bowl 3 play as a guide for next month’s playoff games is not particularly useful. Virtually everything in the NFL game has completely changed since even two decades ago, let alone 5 plus decades ago. I am pretty sure that TB-12 as well as our coaches are well aware of what teams do to try to take away your best strength, whatever that best strength may be. The Bucs players and coaches have actually demonstrated a very good ability to make in game adjustments … that’s how you lose the first half of most of your games… Read more »

Redwave
Reply to  Naplesfan
8 months ago

Though we can agree the Bucs have been able to adjust better this year, the concept of being better prepared at the start of the game is just as valid now as it ever was. Playing only 30 min’s effectively does not usually work out too well in the playoffs. We’ve seen how out-of-sorts this team has been when they couldn’t get a handle on the pressure and dug a hole early. So why not ignore the 1969 reference, and acknowledge that knowing strengths & weaknesses of both teams allows opportunity for a better game plan & better execution.

Eddie
Reply to  Buc76
8 months ago

Agreed. Brady has one of the fastest release in the league. He had to do that in NE because the OL was suspect, but he had great pass catching running back and Edelman. That will fall to Antonio Brown and Rojo I think.

Spitfire
8 months ago

I have a good feeling Bowles will want to stay here as long as Arians is here and get back on track after New York. After Arians leaves he may have the option to be the Head Coach here or he may look at his other opportunities, but Arians is here as long as Brady is here and honestly, as long as the lower salary cap doesn’t screw us over next year, 2021 will actually be our best chance at success. Will a real preseason, Brady will be in top form along with his Offense from the get go and… Read more »

76Buc
8 months ago

.”this isn’t the same Tampa Bay team of the last 12 years. Fans have to recondition their minds to stop assuming the worst will happen…”
I have not been watching the Bucs for 12 years. I have been watching them for 46 years and I feel justified in having trouble reconditioning my mind.

danielob
8 months ago

Anyone taking Washington lightly because of their record is just fooling themselves. We could lost this game easily, Washington matches up to us well, the front four and defense against our average O line. Donovan Smith against Chase Young anyone? Who would you favor in that match up? Giving our mediocre left tackle help takes away another weapon for Brady, forget the deep shots, he won’t have time. Guess he could check it down to our running backs to get rid of the ball quick. Oh wait…., we con’t have any who can catch on a consistent basis. Hope our… Read more »

RW
RW
Reply to  danielob
8 months ago

The WFT’s “weakness” on defense is their linebacking unit and susceptibility to the run. So look for a bunch of WR screens , short throws to the tight ends and much more running. The good thing is that Brady has always been willing to change up his game and take what the defense gives him.

Eddie
Reply to  danielob
8 months ago

You are right on. Donovan Smith and Chase Young, oh my gosh. Conjures image of a human turnstile vs a teenager rushing into a free rock concert.

Dave
Reply to  Eddie
8 months ago

Kind of like how everyone said Aaron Donald would get multiple sacks against Brady with no Marpet….yeah Donald’s name was completely absent from the end game box score. If we all know the WFT’s DLine is good, so doesn’t Brady and BL.

mjmoody
8 months ago

Random thoughts, my bad if it’s hard to follow. Watching that SNF game knowing the Giants and Washington were the last two teams that knocked the Bucs’ out in Rnd1. Bizarre. Mentioning Philly would just betray my age even more. It’s a new time. The OL is gelling. Wirfs is one of the best 1st rounders we’ve got in a while. DS is still missing assignments even with Marpet beside him, but at least the penalties have subsided. Rojo, for all the abuse he’s taken from fans is showing his quality and then some, he’s finally dangerous.Godwin has the hands… Read more »

Eddie
Reply to  mjmoody
8 months ago

i hope we draft some speedier corners. what we have, ( with one exceptions) run and turned like safeties

Naplesfan
8 months ago

What is interesting is fan perceptions of our defense as compared to our offense, and that includes media writers too. Reading typical comment here at PR as well as a lot of news articles, one would think that the Bucs have a bottom tier defense. But that’s simply not so. The Bucs D ranks #6 in the league in total defense at 327.1 YPG, and #8 in points allowed at 22.2 PPG. If someone told you your team’s defense managed to rank well up in the top 10 in both yards and points would that be a good basis for… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Naplesfan
RW
RW
Reply to  Naplesfan
8 months ago

The defense is still good but if you look at their numbers since Vea went out they are nowhere near the dominating defense they were in at the start of the season. And unlike the offense which has been trending up in the last part of the year they have been trending down.
That being said the defense must hold the WFT to 17 points and under because the offense will be lucky to score more than 3 TDs against WFT’s defense.

BucHarbour
Reply to  Naplesfan
8 months ago

The problem everyone has is that the defense ranks near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed…in a passing league. The run defense, sacks, and turnovers are what has helped keep the scoring down some. Way too much bending in the passing game.

danielob
8 months ago

Final score: Washington 7, Bucs 9. Low scoring defensive battle.

Eddie
8 months ago

Coach, for protection ideas, please reference the last bowl game where Chase Young was completely shut out. And resist the temptation of biscuit, the risk is extremely high especially with a best case gimpy Evans.

PatrioticChief
8 months ago

“Protect Brady”
I really don’t think this game is anymore complicated than that. If they keep Brady clean this will be a lopsided domination. If they get bullied like they did against the Saints they could be in for an upset.

Neubi
8 months ago

We should respect them, but I don’t see a reason to fear them. 7.5 / 9 Sacks? Barrett and JPP have 8 / 9.5 in their books and no one is talking about them as “difference makers” for this game.

PewDerPie
8 months ago

We are finally back in the playoffs. If any NFC playoff team got to choose their opponent, I’m thinking Washington would be the go-to choice. Why? Because it is the most winnable game if you are going by win/loss records. Then Chicago. This statement is confusing for me….”Washington did have different guys under center in those games, and have played better with Alex Smith at the helm, but this is still a 7-9 football team for a reason.” All of us can take Washington lightly but I hope the Bucs are ready for a Panthers type game. Gritty and physical.… Read more »

Dude
8 months ago

My concerns are not if the Bucs can beat WFT, but rather, can they they put together a good 60 minute performance in a prime time game? It seems that the Bucs beat the Bucs in prime time games, excluding the Giants game, and they didn’t play too well that night either. I hope Arians changes their practice schedule to practicing at night to help them prepare. Especially if TB12’s usual bed time is around 9 p.m. If not, then I hope Brady and AB go out in the back yard around 9 p.m. every night and work together for… Read more »

scubog
8 months ago

I’m well aware that in the NFL any team can beat any other team under the right set of circumstances. I’m also cognizant of the history of our Buccaneers during which we long-time fans have suffered more than our share of disappointment. There’s good reason why some of us are reluctant to believe victory is likely or even all but assured when we have been let down so many times. I’m reminded of Jon Gruden’s reply when asked about the Raiders’ vaunted offense heading to San Diego 18 loooooong years ago; “How are they going to stop this defense?” So… Read more »

Dave
8 months ago

I think it’s funny reading the endless comments basically talking about the WFT like they’re the 85 Bears. They didn’t even rank in the top 5 in sacks. The DLine had 1 guy with a PFF grade of 87. Another with a grade of 80, and 2 with grades of around 65. They had only 2 players on the team with 6 sacks or higher, and none with double digit sacks. Yet our OLine finished with the following PFF grades: 87, 82, 72, 69, and 65. Last time I checked, our OLine has played every bit as good as their… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Dave
76bucsfan46
8 months ago

Bucs 27-17

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