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.

Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: How did Byron Leftwich’s play-calling look? How did he look on the sidelines?

Answer: I thought Byron Leftwich’s first shot at play-calling in Bruce Arians’ offense in Tampa Bay went very well. Especially on that first drive where he showed great balance with six passes and six runs. There weren’t any issues getting plays in that I could tell and he looked confident on the sidelines. He didn’t look like a first-year offensive coordinator to me.

Of course that was a preseason game, and the Steelers didn’t doing anything too exotic defensively. The real test comes in the regular season when he will have to win some chess matches and make some in-game adjustments that coordinators have to make to be successful.

Bucs OC Byron Leftwich
Bucs OC Byron Leftwich – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

It was a solid first test, and while we all sometimes wish the preseason was shorter, for someone like Leftwich, these four games are invaluable in terms of gaining experience calling plays and learning the Bucs’ personnel.

Question: With the first season preseason game wrapped up, what had you most concerned going into this week’s game against Miami

Answer: Probably the offensive line once we get past the five starters. If you think the Bucs’ starting group isn’t great, you saw just how much better they are than the back-ups. It got really ugly at times once the starters left, and Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin were under duress for a good deal of time under center. It was so bad the Buccaneers essentially cut Evan Smith before the plane landed back in Pittsburgh. I am guessing the Bucs will be scouring the waiver wire heavily between now and the first game hoping to add some depth when teams begin their cut downs.

Aside from the offensive line it is injuries. The Bucs went into the game fairly banged up and left with safety Mike Edwards straining his hamstring, wide receiver Bryant Mitchell rupturing his Achilles and safety Kentrell Brice now dealing with an ankle injury that puts a strain on an already thin safety position.

Question: True or False: If the season started tomorrow, Matt Gay would be the starting kicker for the Buccaneers.

Answer: True, nd I don’t think it is really even close. The fact that Matt Gay has the range he does might mean that the Bucs are almost willing to give up a little accuracy that Cairo Santos might have over him. So many games are won in the last two minutes of the both halves and having a guy you can run out there to win a game or steal some points before halftime from long range is a big advantage. Of course we saw this team fall in love with the big leg of Kyle Brindza a few seasons ago, only to find out once the regular season started, and the games mattered, he wasn’t ready for the pressure and the spotlight and wasn’t accurate.

K Matt Gay – Photo by: Cliff Welch/P

But Gay appears to be different. The only way anyone will know for sure however, is allowing him to do it. I don’t think we’re going to see Bruce Arians going for it on fourth-and-short, or forgoing kicking extra points the rest of the preseason. This team needs to see both Gay and Santos kick, and kick often.

Question: Which player has impressed you most so far in preseason?

Answer: The easy pick would be outside linebacker Noah Spence. And he has impressed me, but I think the transformation of running back Ronald Jones from last year to the year is even more impressive.

I’ll admit I was ready to give up on Jones, a second-round pick, completely after last season because he was so bad. With a less than two yards per carry average, going down too easily and playing with no confidence, I was ready to tag the bust label on him. We featured him in PewterReport.com’s Bucs Camp Diary series last season and each week I interviewed him, the more he seemed completely lost and overwhelmed.

But this year everything thing from his personality, to his body language, to his size – he’s up to 221 pounds – to his on-field performance has completely done a 180-degree turn. It’s not even like he is the same player. Hopefully Jones continues to grow and develop and stay injury-free. If so, he will push Peyton Barber for touches and maybe even the starting job this year.

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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]

17 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t get why he kept going for 2. We need to see the rookie kick with the game pressure on. Kicking inside the facility does no good. This guy needs to kick in Raymond James Stadium with the ridiculous heat and humidity he is going to deal with until probably at least late November. Let’s see what happens Friday night. He better not miss!

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  2. That battle at backend of the WR depth chart is going to be intense. Especially if many of those WR are healthy again. So far I likee what I have seen from Anthony Johnson and Schnell. Looking forward to seeing Miller out there as well as the others. Would like to see Watson put together a more consistent performance as well as Bobo.

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  3. If they are smart they will end up with one on temporary IR, and one starting. Matt Gay has a booming leg, at least by recent camp examples. I think he wins it. Actually, I think he ends up the best pick in this last draft for Bucs.

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  4. I’m far from convinced Gay is going to work out or he’s “best draft pick” lol.

    Talk to me next year and see if he’s still here and his Fg% and I’ll say if he was worth a 5th rd pick or even good. All we know is he has leg strength like Kyle Brindza.

    Not being negative but 1 FG made in 1 pre season game doesn’t seal it in my mind.

    I been saying even before camp even started they have to get more depth on O line. That’s assuming Cappa can even be good starter.

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  5. Why is it that every fan, commentator, pundit, newspaper, TV show, coffee shop patron, food vendor, and parking lot attendant, with any exposure to the Bucs for the past several years could tell you that the team’s Oline is a problem….and yet the GM of this team, every year, refuses to do anything about it…leaving us entering the season (yet again) with articles espousing “If you think the Bucs’ starting group isn’t great [YES WE ALL THINK THAT], you saw just how much better they are than the back-ups [YUCK!!!!!]”

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  6. As a life long fan, I am NOT..Impressed with the team overall. When a starter goes down? That’s it for us. Really..thats it! Why haven’t we tried to address the DE problem nobody is talking about? Its glaring and will hurt us if a solution is not found. I had us 8-8 before camp. But now, I even question that. Our secondary wil earn its money. You can..bank on that. AZ just let a halfway decent DE go. Sign him up Arians.

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  7. Mark, if you think Spence what is your most impressive, then we are in a lot more trouble than what I thought.

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    • BIGTIME TROUBLE BUDDY!

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  8. Is it not interesting most on this site was getting ready for playoffs a couple months ago, and now they saw how steelers put on a passing clinic Friday night, the predictable problems with D line are back, the middle was wide open all night, Winston comes out throwing the simple conservative passes shows they know they have a deep ball problem and now I am sure the dieharders on this site are already getting that deep in the stomach feeling they know the year will be the same but will never admit it.
    I knew this year was in the dumpster when they did not run Licht out of town.

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  9. Gotta love all these experts in the comments who know without a doubt that this team will suck based off the first PRESEASON game. I don’t expect anything from this team because it’s WAY too early to make a prediction…but as a fan i stay optimistic.

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    • pomer1eau
      This is about relying on players who have played for 2 previous coaches to all of a sudden ready to perform; I doubt i will happen, but I hope I’m incorrect.
      did you all miss Arians press Conferences? He wasn’t happy about Spence play because of his key penalty mistakes.

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  10. DaMarkus Lodge is back practicing again and he is also pushing for a roster spot due to his length.

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  11. I agree in regard to your answers on the kicking competition. What I want to see from Gay is consistency kicking the short field goals and extra points for the rest of this offseason. If he can develop sufficient technique there, he will be our guy and our kicking woes will be fixed. … Finally! BA will have one more star aligning at the right time.
    _____________

    P.S. I still think Koetter lacked some other things needed to make it as an NFL head coach. I do think he had too much to overcome in some games because of our lack of a kicking game. Otherwise, the Offense might have been able to overcome the poor outdated Defensive schemes.
    ___________
    Go Bucs!!!

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  12. In a one gap 3-4 defense pass rushing is not primarily from DE’s, but from OLB’s. Playing Man Press coverage with the DB’s gives the pass rush a step more to get to the QB. While sacks are a great stat pressuring the QB to rush his throw or making him hold the ball one step longer than he wanted is the goal.

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  13. The question on the kicker is moot. The answer is “It is too early to determine who the kicker is.” One kick (as impressive as it was tying the stadium record) does not make him the automatic choice. Yes, he has a stronger leg – almost everyone does over Santos as his problem never was his accuracy, his problem was leg strength because after his injury, he cannot make kicks over 42 yards. Under that distance, he is about perfect (as he was for Chicago, then Tampa last year).

    The team knows Santos can play under pressure within his limited range. The question that has to be answered by four preseason games worth of kicks is how much accuracy (if any) are you giving up with the fifth round draft pick of Gay? Over the next three weeks I hope they are able to find out.

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  14. Totally agree with you, Mark! Sorry for you having to put up with all the Negative Nellies.

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  15. Man, it’s almost like there were people who have been describing all the reasons Spence and RoJo (and Hargreaves) weren’t playing as well as expected all this time? Hmmm…

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