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. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.

Question: Do the Bucs need to go at least 8-8 for Koetter not to be fired? Or what is the absolute worst the Bucs could go and Koetter still have a job?

Answer: I don’t believe there is a magic number. I think the Glazers want to see the needle pointing up. And despite an awful 5-11 2017 season, there were some things that helped save Koetter’s job. Yes, the team fell off by four games, but the team was also hampered by quarterback Jameis Winston playing injured for at least three games. There was also a clear deficiency in talent on the defense — that was also hampered by injuries at key positions. Yet despite the poor record and stretches of losing games, this team never gave up. I know what you are thinking, they are professionals, they get paid to play and should never quit. But, that isn’t how it works, in a lot of cases. I was in a locker room that quit on Raheem Morris in 2011. I have been in the locker room of a team that tuned out Greg Schiano. This team fought, and despite given every reason to just play out the season and go through the motions, they stuck together.

This is a football team that genuinely likes Dirk Koetter. In fact, I was recently at an event with players and that specific subject came up. I won’t reveal the conversation, but this prominent player smiled and said, “Man, but I like that guy,” referring to Koetter. Now liking and believing in a coach are two different things. But this team doesn’t just like Koetter; they believe in him.

There is no question the Bucs and Koetter need to win. But the Glazers genuinely believe it can happen — and will happen — with Koetter at the helm. Another 5-11 season most likely dooms him, but unless there is an inordinate rash of injuries or Winston gets hurt or is served a significant suspension, I expect improvement in 2018. Enough to save Koetter’s job.

Question: Do you think we hear any announcements on extensions for Ali Marpet or Kwon Alexander near training camp or will they wait till after the season?

Answer: It is hard to say for sure, but from what we have heard the team would like to get both of them extended prior to the season, if it can be worked out. They also would like to get Donovan Smith extended, as well, despite some fans who wonder why Smith is on their radar to re-sign. While Smith leaves some things to be desired, the team, and his position coach George Warhop, believes Smith has the potential to be a Top 5 tackle in the league — the only thing holding Smith back is Smith himself. But we have also heard from sources that Smith wants to be paid as the top tackle in the league. When we asked a team source about that, he responded, “Who doesn’t?” However, wanting and getting that kind of money are two different things.

I don’t think there is any way Smith gets close to the top money for his position, but he is worth more than many fans might think. Smith is currently on a deal that is paying him $1.9 million this year and deserves a raise, but his film doesn’t scream $13-15 million a year. Would the Bucs like to get him for $7-8 million a year? I think they would jump on that. However Smith could gamble on a good season and see what is out there on the free agent market.

I believe Alexander and Marpet will be easier deals for the team and would expect those to get done prior to the start of the season.

Question: Seems like former players often visit old teams to give advice. Ronde Barber was a tactician at CB and relied on smarts and instincts over pure athletic ability. Hargreaves’ issues seem more mental than physical and Barber could watch film and work with him. Are the Bucs considering this?

Answer: I don’t believe they would be opposed to it, but I also don’t think they are pushing it either. I am sure Barber would be open to some phone calls and meetings with Hargreaves, but as a full-time announcer for FOX Sports once the season gets going. Barber is pretty much covered up with work.

You are correct in it seems like Hargreaves could benefit from the tutoring of Barber, but Barber also isn’t going to step on any toes inside the building. Some staffs prefer to not have a lot of interference from the outside to make sure it looks like a player isn’t undermining his position coach. I really don’t know the Bucs staff’s stance in on this. As mentioned, however, anything that could push Hargreaves to reach his full potential seems like it would be welcomed.

We do know Barber still enjoys visiting One Buc from time to time and is welcomed with open arms, but a majority of his time spent there is more recon for his broadcasting job, as he also does the preseason games for WFLA Channel 8 before the regular season kicks off. But, if Hargreaves is smart, and I think he is, he should be, at the very least, watching as much Barber film as he can get his hands on.

Question: Are we going see more press with Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart in the secondary? This off coverage is KILLING this defense and we need to stop this off-coverage scheme when only one player thrives on it (Grimes).

Answer: That question has been tossed Mike Smith’s way a few times this offseason, and his answer is also the same: “we are going to put the players in the best position to succeed and let them do what they excel in.” I certainly hope that is the case, and we will find out more as camp rolls around in late July. We have seen some mixed in this offseason and we will continue to watch it during the mini-camp this week. And while it seems simple and the smart thing to do, a player like Julio Jones would eat up Davis and Stewart more times than not if they thought they are just going to walk up and and play press man. In fact, I am sure Jones is salivating at having a rookie try and press him.

But, there is an in between as well. You don’t have to play so far off that you are essentially conceding a 7-10 yard completion. Disguising things and mixing it up from time to time seems pretty obvious, and I think the Bucs feel they can get more creative with the personnel they have now. And if they have confidence in the pass rush, that should open things up more for Smith to call for tighter coverage off the line of scrimmage at times.

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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]

15 COMMENTS

  1. If they give Donovan Smith a sizeable extension at $7-8M a year I’m going to blow a gasket. Their inability to properly evaluate him is very disconcerting. He’s probably the worst pass protecting starting left tackle in the league now that Erik Flowers has flipped to the right side.

    I really hope this new emphasis on finishing takes with him. I can’t be the only one that is sick to death of seeing him get beat then turn around and watch a play get blown up in the backfield/Jamie get smacked.

    • Anyone who thinks Smith is the worst pass blocker in the league is either a complete idiot or doesn’t watch the games, or perhaps has no clue what they’re watching.

      Most of the pressure in pass pro game from the interior. Pamphile was garbage in pass pro and Sweezy wasn’t much better.

      Smith is solid in pass pro. When you’re constantly playing from behind and your QB has to drop back and pass, then DEs are able to forget about the run and tee off. Even the best LTs get beat in these situations. Smith was put in that situation most of his career and with bad guards playing next to him.

      Unreal how clueless folks are.

  2. Mark correct me if I am wrong but Mike Smith has said on multiple occasions that he leaves the depth the corners play up to them ie their comfortability. Its not “his scheme” and its a matter of guys like Hargreaves playing more aggressively like grimes does. Hargreaves’ confidence is shot and Ryan Smith was basically a rookie last year and that is why they looked so bad.

  3. I really don’t give a crap whether these players like Dirk or not, he needs to stop coaching this team like a fragile pussy. This team would go deep in the playoffs with the talent it has of we had physical training camps and a more physical playing style( play calling first) this ridiculous douche wants to build a finesse offense to compete in a physical game…we won’t improve until then. No matter who is playing QB or protecting him. BTW I really enjoy it when our coaching staff consistently acknowledges that Donovan Smith consistently has 2-3 plays a game where he’s a bonehead and gets beat on a play that significantly hurts the team. Just with Jameis and his turnovers, how long do we have to be patient with this loser to be consistent. Cause I agree anything more than say 8 million per year, would be laughable for this idiot to expect.

  4. You guys have to realize that there are not too many good LT’s out there available. Donovan just needs to up his game. He’s got the size and skill set, he just needs the mind set. I fear that he is only here to collect a paycheck and doesn’t really care how good he can be, or anything else but playing long enough to get paid to retire. The potential is there, but can a coach coach it out of him?

  5. Smith said the same thing when he was hired and before last year. Actions speak louder than words SittinBackSmitty. As far as Dirk being given leeway because Winston played hurt 3 games last year…that should be a knock on Dirk. Fitz went 2-1 as the starter. Why play a hurt qb when the backup can win ya more than he loses? Another gaffe in Dirks list of em. Unless of course Jameis kept how hurt he was from him, which i doubt. Man I hope Dirk learned a ton last year or all the self motivated players Licht brought in to help, wont get wins.

  6. That’s ultimately my worst fear Darin, that this coaching staff will have essentially wasted years of this team’s potential by acting like vaginas and then Jason Licht becomes collateral damage. We need to keep Jason even if we fire Dirk…

  7. A laughable running game, no reliable kicker, QB fumbles and no pass rush is what doomed the Bucs last season. Not defensive scheme, not Donovan Smith’s two lapses a game, not Hard Knocks and not a soft training camp.

    A reliable kicker, a mediocre running game and a semblance of a pass rush to close out games and we just might have notched victories over the Patriots, Packers, Bills and Panthers to finish 9 dash 7.

  8. Trust me, I had Donovan on the Most Disappointing list a number of games last year. He is NOT the top tackle in the league nor should be paid as such. But he isn’t necessarily the worst. The tools are there, it’s now, as Warhop said, up to him to put in the work. His lapses tend to come in bunches. A false start followed by a hold or giving up a sack. And I know this is petty, but his body language frustrates me sometimes. And I HATE the long-sleeved white t-shirt under his pads. It looks so sloppy to me! Okay, rant over. He is a good dude, a good football player and his teammates like him. And so does the organization.

  9. As far as the coverage goes, Smith does give some leeway, but I don’t think there was a whole lot of confidence from the staff or the CBs to be honest. Problem is, in the division in particular, with no pass rush it is just simple throw and catch. Smith won’t ever throw his guys under the bus or call them out to the media, but I think at times last year it was the staff just trying to keep things in front of them and hoping to get a third down stop along the way.

  10. Let’s not forget that we have a defensive line now that will definetly help our secondary! I love the direction we are moving in and we have drafted better than I have seen in a very long time! Go Bucs! I think we make some noise this year!!!