The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our PewterReport Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.
Question: What are the odds Jameis Winston starts for the Saints this season, and does he have the weapons and skill set to put a dent in, or even possibly dismantle the Bucs defense?
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Answer: I think the odds are really good he ends up as the starter coming out of the preseason. Take away the turnover issue and there is very little to dislike about Winston. Now of course the turnover problem can’t be ignored, but what I am saying is, Winston checks every box teams are looking for in an NFL leader and quarterback – minus giving the ball away.
Saints QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: USA Today
Winston is charismatic, intelligent in terms of football IQ, has a strong arm, works as hard – or harder – than anyone on whatever team he is on and does tremendous work off of the field. There was a reason he was a Heisman Trophy winner, a college football national champion and the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick in 2015.
However, his inability to rein himself in and not try and make every single play on the field killed him in Tampa Bay. Winston just couldn’t let a play die and live to fight another down. And while that led to a tremendous amount of turnovers, it also made him great at times.
A perfect example is the play against the Bears at Raymond James in Week 10 back in 2016. On the play Winston avoids sack after sack, scrambles, retreats, steps up, breaks tackles and heaves a prayer down the field that Mike Evans hauled in for a 43-yard reception.
Winston had no business whatsoever completing that pass. But his never-say-die attitude led to that huge play. However, it could have easily cost the Bucs a safety, fumble or interception. Now take that same play, and put Brady under center. Brady takes the sack, the Bucs punt and the defense goes back onto the field. Who is right or wrong? On that particular play, Winston was right because it worked, But if it didn’t, then he is wrong. You don’t ever want to coach the aggressiveness out of Winston and make him a game manager, but can Sean Payton find that happy medium?
Can Winston put a dent or even dismantle the Bucs defense as you asked? Of course he can, but will he? Winston won’t single-handily beat the Buccaneers. They are just too good on both sides of the ball. But even if Winston has an outstanding day, my bet is on the Bucs offense having an even better day.
I think Winston’s 2021 season – if he ends up starting – will be one of the most interesting things to follow in all of the NFL this year. And when the Bucs face the Saints, it is definitely must-watch TV in my mind.
Question: How’s it looking on the kick returner front? Is Mickens still the guy?
Answer: The Buccaneers absolutely want to improve their kickoff/punt return game and the drafting of Jaelon Darden proves that. Tampa Bay’s special teams in 2020 were mediocre at best, at least in terms of the return game and coverage units. And at times they were downright awful. Jaydon Mickens did a decent job in 2020 in kickoff returns, averaging 24.3 yards per return, but only averaged 6.4 returning punts.
WRs Jaydon Mickens and Jaelon Darden – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers
From what we saw during mini-camps and OTAs, the battle will be between Mickens and Darden. However, Darden didn’t do a lot of returning in college, so it will be a transition. He was the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, so he wasn’t asked to return many kicks in his college career. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be good at it in the NFL. With the Bucs wide receiver room loaded with talent, making the roster will be dependent upon being a good special teams contributor.
Question: What are your Top NFL stadiums to visit and why?
Answer: Lambeau Field in Green Bay would have to be my absolute favorite, in terms of football history. Just driving into town and up to the stadium gives you a sense of history and nostalgia, although they have updated the outside of it since the last time I was there. Still, when you think about the games played on that field, the Hall of Fame players, the legendary coaches and so on, there really is nothing like it in the NFL. Plus the Packers fans are tremendous with their support of their team all of these years through some insanely cold weather conditions, earning my respect.
Photo by: USA Today
While not a full-time NFL stadium, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London would have to be the most impressive as far as looks and press box technology. Each press box seat had their own video monitor to watch the television broadcast. The fans are unique, as you will see jerseys from every NFL team in the stands on game day.
Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Los Angeles in 2019 when the Bucs faced the Rams at the L.A. Coliseum. Like Lambeau Field, the history of the stadium is impressive. From two Summer Olympics being held there, to the home of the Dodgers from 1958 to 1961, to hosting Super Bowls, the Rams and home to the USC Trojans, it was a great stadium filled with tradition.
Question: Outside of Steve Young and Bo Jackson, who are the Top 3 players drafted by the Bucs that became the player they did on a different team?
Answer: While Doug Williams had success in Tampa Bay, his biggest accomplishments took place after leaving the Buccaneers following the 1982 season. Williams went on to to lead Washington to a Super Bowl win and was named the game’s MVP after completing 18-of-29 passes for 340 yards and four touchdowns in 1987.
Former Bucs CB Aqib Talib – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Cornerback Aqib Talib was another player that was good for the Buccaneers during his time in Tampa Bay, but it was after leaving that he really saw his career blossom. Talib went on to five Pro Bowls after leaving the Bucs. He was also named first-team All-Pro following the 2016 season and won a Super Bowl.
A player I considered was Warrick Dunn. This might come as a surprise, but as good and as popular as Dunn was with the Buccaneers, he had better statistical years with the Falcons. Dunn rushed for over 1,000 yards three times and had a monster 2005 season where he amassed 1,416 yards and averaged 5.1 yards a carry.
But my No. 3 player is actually cornerback Al Harris, who after one season with the Buccaneers, played 13 more years in the NFL, including the Eagles, Packers, Dolphins and Rams. Harris was never a superstar, but did make two Pro Bowls and a second team All-Pro. The lanky corner collected 468 tackles and 21 career interceptions in his career. Not bad for a player who was a sixth-round draft pick in 1997 and never got off the Bucs practice squad.
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 email@example.com
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