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.