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: Will the Bucs sign Philip Rivers and draft a rookie QB, ending the Jameis Winston era in Tampa?
Answer: When the Buccaneers start looking at options to replace Jameis Winston, the pickings are kind of slim. Andy Dalton? Eli Manning? Marcus Mariota? A rookie not named Joe Burrow or Tua Tagovailoa? I don’t see any of those being a better option than Winston at this point. Philip Rivers is somewhat interesting, but guess who was second behind Winston in interceptions (20) this season? You guessed it, Rivers.
And Rivers has nine children and still lives in San Diego. Rivers actually commutes 80 miles one way to get to Los Angeles where the Chargers now play. I don’t foresee him packing up and moving his wife and children from the West Coast to Tampa if he isn’t even willing to move them to Los Angeles.
As far as drafting a rookie, that isn’t out of the realm of possibility at all. In fact, regardless of what decision is made on Winston, I think the Buccaneers do bring in a rookie quarterback although I doubt it will be a first-round pick. The problem is, finding one outside of the first round hasn’t proven to be good odds for most teams. There are hundreds of mediocre quarterbacks drafted for every sixth-round steal like Tom Brady.
Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts or Washington’s Jacob Eason could be a Day 2 player the Bucs target who could sit a year, or if Winston is re-signed and earns a new contract, then Tampa Bay has a developing backup or even potential trade capital down the road. PewterReport.com will have plenty of draft coverage and previews coming up over the next four months, and of course, plenty of quarterback profiles.
Question: How much of Jameis Winston’s turnovers would you suspect come from a feeling of having to do it all or too much, especially with no consistent running game or kicking game?
Answer: I think there could be some truth to that, although I think Jameis Winston’s biggest issue is just poor decision-making. There is no question that he has the utmost confidence in his arm and his DNA is programmed to be a gunslinger. And this offense requires throws that most offenses don’t ask their quarterback to attempt. At least not the frequency that Bruce Arians’ scheme does.
Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich could design an offense where Winston wouldn’t throw but just a handful of interceptions in a season. They could design a safe, easy offense without any problem. But how successful would the Bucs be just dinking and dunking the ball and not taking advantage of the downfield skill sets of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin? That isn’t a realistic option given Tampa Bay’s weaponry.
Looking at Winston’s career prior to this season, the highest number of interceptions he’s thrown in a single season was 18, which averages to just over one per game. Even if he got back to that standard, this football team can win a lot of games. The Bucs would have won a lot of games this year had Winston not thrown 30 interceptions. And in Carson Palmer’s first season under Arians in Arizona he threw 22 picks, but never had more than 14 after that. So the hope is if Winston is re-signed, that some of the issue is partly the system and he will revert back to his 14-18 average of interceptions and the 30 picks this year was just an anomaly.
Question: Is there any hope this team will learn how to win before Bruce Arians gives up and re-retires or get fired?
Answer: I believe there is plenty of hope. I think when there dust settles and fans take a look at 2019 after their emotions have simmered down, they will see a football team with a lot of potential to be very good in 2020. Of course it all starts with the quarterback, but even if it is Jameis Winston that returns under center, there are plenty of positives to build on.
The Bucs were two bad kicking games from winning nine games this year. Maybe even 10 wins if Matt Gay connects right before halftime at Seattle. So they could have potentially won 10 games – even with 30 interceptions, a historically bad defense to start the season and little support from the running game.
I think the glass is half full not half empty. Bruce Arians knows how to coach, and his staff does as well. Imagine that interception number cut in half next year. Imagine a defense that starts the season the way it ended it and imagine a schedule that doesn’t require a team to travel across the country twice – and the Atlantic Ocean once – and not being at home for seven straight weeks. There is plenty of hope in Tampa Bay.
Question: The franchise tag is the most reasonable option for Jameis Winston, right?
Answer: I think it is the only option. The organization can’t commit to Jameis Winston for more than one year at this point. There are just too many unknowns that this team doesn’t have answers to with Winston as of yet. Anything more than the franchise tag could hurt the team down the road if the Buccaneers guarantee a large contract and he doesn’t pan out and substantially cut down his turnovers.
Bruce Arians said following the game the evaluation will being soon, and that no decision has been made with regards to Winston’s return. And a team source told me before the game that a contract extension or the use of the franchise tag hasn’t even been discussed as of yet, and that the Ian Rapoport report that the team had decided to being Winston back was completely untrue. We still believe Winston returns in 2020, but no official decision has been made as of now.