The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. Scott Reynolds joined this week’s edition as well, answering there final two questions. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.

Question: Mike Evans has been dominate in the red zone, (and acknowledging that wins will always be more important than personal records), is his streak of 1,000-yard seasons to start a career in jeopardy?

Answer: Based on the first three weeks, Mike Evans’ streak very well could be over – if you are strictly an analytics numbers person. However, based on the team’s result, a 28-10 win in Denver that propelled the Bucs to a 2-1 start, the streak of 12 straight seasons with no playoff appearances might also be broken. If you ask Evans which streak he would prefer to be broken, it would the 1,000-yard one if it meant Tampa Bay heads to the playoffs.

Bucs WR Mike Evans
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

But even if the Bucs make the playoffs it doesn’t necessarily mean that Evans couldn’t reach the 1,000-yard mark for a seventh straight season as well. So far in two of the three games, Evans had just one catch in the Saints game and two catches in the game against Denver on Sunday. I think those numbers are more a fluke than what we should expect. Right now Evans is on pace for just 576 yards receiving on 53 catches. There is no way he only has 576 yards on the season if Evans plays 16 games. He’s just too good.

If I were a betting man, I’d put a lot a money on Evans getting to the 1,000-yard mark and the Bucs reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With Chris Godwin out for a week or more with a hamstring injury, look for Evans get to targeted far more than the four times he was on Sunday in Denver.

Question: Is it my imagination or does playing not to lose in the second half more often than not blow up in a team’s face? What does Byron Leftwich have against running up the score?

Answer: I don’t believe offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich has anything against running up the score at all. In fact on Sunday in the third quarter, his play calling was somewhat aggressive. It was more of the Buccaneers holding themselves back with penalties and dropped passes than Leftwich’s doing. Look at the penalties and missed blocking assignments and you will likely see self-inflicted woulds as opposed to conservative play-calling.

Once the fourth quarter arrived with Tampa Bay up 28-10, the Bucs ran more to keep the clock moving, but I think you would see the same thing from 99 percent of the other offensive coordinators in the NFL. At that point, they knew the Broncos offense was incapable of mounting a comeback, especially due to the play of the Bucs defense.


This offense is still work in progress and will get better as the season goes on. Tom Brady is still learning what he does best in this system and what his teammates around him do best. Eventually that will all come together along with even better game plans and hopefully better execution. The schedule has worked out well early for the Bucs and is favorable over the next few games against the 1-2 Los Angeles Chargers and the Chicago Bears, who are 3-0 from beating three really bad football teams.

Question: Has Bucs G.M. Jason Licht turned a corner on his drafts and second-round picks in particular after two solid-looking drafts the past two years?

Answer: It’s clear that Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and the team’s scouts have rebounded from a bad 2016 draft that included misses on first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and second-rounders defensive end Noah Spence and kicker Roberto Aguayo. Licht drafted tight end O.J. Howard and wide receiver Chris Godwin in 2017, and both of those players are hits. Due to bad luck with injuries, second-round safety Justin Evans and third-round linebacker Kendell Beckwith are no longer contributors, but both showed promise before sustaining serious injuries.

Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, LB Devin White and GM Jason Licht
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, LB Devin White and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Nose tackle Vita Vea, running back Ronald Jones II and cornerback Carlton Davis III were drafted in the first two rounds in 2018, and all three are promising young starters. In 2019, middle linebacker Devin White was the team’s first-round pick, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting was selected in the second, and cornerback Jamel Dean and safety Mike Evans were drafted in the third round. That’s four more productive starters on defense – all with a high upside.

Despite not having any rookie mini-camp, OTAs or preseason games, Licht’s first two selections – right tackle Tristan Wirfs and safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. – have become immediate starters as rookies and been impactful players so far in Tampa Bay. That’s an impressive feat, and shows the quality scouting work that Licht, director of player personnel John Spytek, director of college scouting Mike Biehl and the team’s area scouts put in over the past years – as well as the previous years. There is no doubt that Licht’s improved drafting has made a significant impact on providing Tampa Bay with a playoff-caliber roster.

Question: Has the Bucs’ use of empty sets on offense increased since Tom Brady arrived? It looks like it has.

Answer: Yes and no. Former Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter and former offensive play-caller Todd Monken did use some empty sets with Jameis Winston at quarterback, so it’s not like Tampa Bay hasn’t run five-receiver sets before – even if those five targets may include a tight end or a running back flanked out rather than in the backfield.

Bruce Arians and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich ran it a few times with Winston last year, and we’ve seen it a few times thus far with Tom Brady at the helm. It’s certainly never going to be a staple formation, and I’m not a fan of running an empty formation on third-and-1 like we saw in Denver on Sunday.

That tips the defense off that a pass is coming without the threat of a run due to not having a running back in the backfield. Brady’s pass was tipped at the line on third-and-1 and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal as a result.

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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BigSombrero

Brady won’t force it to Evans. Scotty Miller though? Sure thing!

Preseason warmup game 3 vs the Broncos practice squad was pretty uneventful and fairly vanilla/predictable.

Preseason warmup game 4 vs the Chargers will be more of the same.

Eventually the Bucs will play against a team with a startling caliber NFL QB and defense. That’s when this team will forge its identity.

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Buc stops here

I am surprised you got a ton of thumbs down. Denver lacked: starting QB, starting #1 pass rusher, and is not that good. Panthers are not that good either. Saints are 1-2 – their only win against Tampa Bay, unable to beat the Raiders or the Packers. Bucs will need to beat at least one of those two (Raiders/Green Bay) to have a chance to take the division from the Saints as the one game lead is only temporary unless Tampa determines a way to beat a team with a winning record. Yes Brady is playing better but the second… Read more »

Spitfire

But see that’s where just being a neigh saying prick comes into play. Just because the last two teams were garbage doesn’t mean we will automatically fall apart when playing a better team. So we get to warm up against 3 bad teams so that we can hit our stride when we finally play another good team, so what? The difference is we are rooting for the Bucs to succeed and are enjoying the fact that they are improving while knowing their potential is high, then there are you two who just wanna wallow in your own misery and try… Read more »

geno711

Every time we have success, there are fans that suggest the success was not well earned. I am not saying that Denver is really good but Tennessee is 3-0 and played them. Tennessee won 16-14 on a field goal with 20 seconds left. Pittsburgh then played Denver at home. The Denver quarterback went out early in the 1st quarter so Pittsburgh had an easier game because they got Driskell with no game planning as well. That game was 17-14 at the end of the 3rd for Pittsburgh. But yeah, Tampa winning 28-10 is not good enough for our crack whip… Read more »

Buc stops here

I did not say that it was a bad win, I just said they are not a good team right now. The Bucs played well on defense all game – like they have for all three games now. The offense played better, no misunderstanding there either. Just think they need to play a full 60 minutes as of right now, the offense is not doing that.

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Buc stops here

Okay, fair enough. I was not trying to be negative. I just was looking at the reality of the situation. I hope I am wrong and the team “improvement” is not a mirage. We will find out in about four weeks (if COVID 19 does not shut down the league with Titans having 8 cases now) when they play the Packers. I suspect this team is good enough now to make the playoffs if they keep playing like they have – beyond that is anyone’s guess.

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plopes808

Oh how quickly the naysayers forget that we played a healthy Saints team with established chemistry and still played it tight, holding Thomas to a 2/17 stat line. Sure, they lost their next 2 games, but that was without their #1 receiver. I wouldn’t necessarily say that makes them a bad team at all. This team is only 3 games into the season and still learning about each other. The performances on offense will only get better and our defense is playing lights out right now. But sure, go ahead a predict the team to implode against better teams because… Read more »

BigSombrero

Played it tight? You must be joking!

It was a 17 point blowout until the Bucs scored with 2 minutes to go. Then the Saints marched it right back down and the game ended with the ball on the 1 inch line.

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Naplesfan

Yeah, but the Saints are still the defending NFC South champs, with record holder Brees at quarterback. And the principal reason they lost the next two games was because their star receiver was unavailable due to injury – an injury he sustained late in the game with the Bucs. The Saints are no garbage team. They are going to make the playoffs this year for certain.

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revfish

Although it should be noted that Brady went deep about four or five times and connected on three of them, including one to OJ Howard or Godwin where The defender was right there with him

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Rating: +5. From 5 votes.
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BigSombrero

Thank you . Ive been making this point for a while.

The last 2 years, Brady has averaged one throw of 30+ yards and 4 throws of 20-29 yards, per game. He’s completing 20% of them. His air yards per attempt is still around 6.

This has not changed with “elite weapons” in Tampa. It’s the exact same as it was in New England.

This is known as being a game manager who dinks and dunks.

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Rating: -16. From 16 votes.
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Naplesfan

You’re an idiot, dolt, and a troll. Just stop commenting.

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Naplesfan

TB-12 not only went deep, but he was extremely accurate on his ball placement on the TD catches in particular, throwing into very tight windows where only his receiver could come down with the ball.

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Buc stops here

I agree with you on this. I have seen sites state that Brady is playing more aggressively than he ever did with the Patriots. As a matter of fact, the two long passes he completed were with the defender within 0.8 yards of the receiver (0.5 yards on the other). Last year in game 2 he did that one time – that was it for the year. This year he has done it twice by the third game. He will throw longer than he has in the past, just don’t expect as many as when Winston was playing. He is… Read more »

Donkey_Hunter

Offense is slowly coming together. Brady with another great outing. At this same juncture last year; we’ve scored more points, turned the ball over less, and have played more efficient offensively. Defensively we’ve seen big strides. We’re forcing turnovers and playing better. The DVOA ranking will continue to show that. And, how about them rooks?! Winfield a stud out of the gate and Wirfs looking like a fairly seasoned lineman. Thank God we didn’t donk off our first 2 picks on RB or WR. First place NFC South! Boom! Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit Rating+30 Rating: +3. From 3 votes.… Read more »

eaustinyoung

Brady proved the offense is a powerhouse in the first half of a game. I think the lack of production in the second half is just trying to figure out how all the other pieces fit. We know what we have in Evans, Godwin, and Fournette. RoJo is still inconsistent as well as getting the TEs involved. If they have a big lead and trust in the defense, I have no problem with workshopping the offensive play against an easy road win. Also there’s something to be said about not wasting your whole playbook against a crappy team. Rate this… Read more »

bucballer

RoJo is just plain unlucky! It seems every time this kid manages to find a bit of a seem and picks up a 12-15 yard gain it is called back by penalty. He has lost a couple of hundred yards over last season and combined with this season. Here’s hoping the kid can catch a break and bust a substantial run that isn’t called back by a penalty! It’s amazing how this keeps happening to this young man. Soon, RoJo, a penalty free chunk run is going to be in ur future… hoping so anyway! Rate this item:Thumb UpThumb DownSubmit… Read more »

Billy

Block for the man and you will see.

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Billy

We don’t know what we have In Fournette AT ALL.

Did you watch the game?
Look at the stats if you didn’t.

Looked like Michael Pittman.

Come on man!!!!!!

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eaustinyoung

Yeah we do. We saw it in game 2.

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bucballer

Sure hope Godwin’s injury is minor. We need him to fulfill the potential of this offense. Just a note. This is Godwin’s second injury in 3 games. The NFL is so violent and physical. It just makes what Mike Evans has done that much more remarkable. His first 6 seasons in the NFL with 1000 yards in each season. It takes more than just talent. It takes playing with pain and through pain and being just plain lucky to avoid serious injuries. It’s one thing to anoint a player as the next great WR or the best WR period. It… Read more »

Dman

This offense is so much less dynamic than last year. There’s not that feeling that we can score at will, in bunches and in a pinch when we have to. It’s the Patriots offense with Tampa players. Except – No running game thanks to a still struggling O line [Cappa, Jensen, Smith] and WR’s that are not asked to and do not block. And no more, “No risk it, no biscuit.” The big difference is decision making by Brady and the significantly lower risk game plan is huge. But surprised by the sacks TB takes holding the ball too long.… Read more »

plopes808

I’ll take boring wins over the roller coaster that is Jameis Winston anyday

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Buc on the Move

I don’t remember this feeling of being able to “score at will.”

For me it was always, “things are rolling, so this is where the wheels come off and Jameis turns it over again”

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buddah

Godwin will likely miss 3-5 weeks as will Bunting. These hamstrings don’t heel fast. Evans is fine. We got used to Evans getting a lot of balls because Jamies forced it to him. Brady doesn’t force the ball to guys who are covered. When Evans is single-covered, he’ll get plenty of balls. If Scotty continues to improve and Godwin comes back, Evans will get his thousand yards.

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Spitfire

I think we all want Evans to get 1,000 so he can be the sole record holder but in the end, he holds the record already, even if it is shared. So even if it ends it shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The bigger deal should just be doin whatever needs to be done to win. Evans benefitted from Winston having 2 favorite targets in Evans and Brate and struggled finding chemistry with anyone else. Brady spreads it around which also helps with Defenses not being able to key in on those two players. So environment was right… Read more »

Naplesfan

The only record most fans care about is the W-L record, and championships.

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Rating: +11. From 13 votes.
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Naplesfan

Still very early in the Tom Brady era. He’s got a lot of skill players to use, and getting fully in sync with enough of them to sustain a ball control offense, to complement our skillful defense, is a work in progress that will take another 4 to 6 games to work the kinks out of.

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BigSombrero

This isn’t an era. This is a 2 year run.

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Naplesfan

Again, you are an idiot and a dolt and a troll. Just stop commenting.

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revfish

I enjoyed the question about the empty sit with Brady in comparison as before Brady. The question that has crossed my mind is did we have all these crossing routes last year with the receiver running open or is this new because we have brought in Tom Brady?

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drdneast

BigSombrero, I agree, that Drew Brees guy has always been overrated and the defense is manned by girl scouts.
The Bucs played a dangerous team yesterday because every NFL team knows going 0-3 is like falling into a campaign really of Trump supporters. Now there is no escape from being surrounded by losers.
Although their offense was anemic their defense played a solid game and didn’t give up the ship.

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scubog

What is a campaign “really”? Why do you insist on weaving your political views into an otherwise valid comment?

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Billy

Ummmmmm 13 -9 Is still NOT a
winning formula against good teams.

There needs to be WAY more men in motion to take over the run game.

And Godwin in motion doesn’t count.

Come on man!!!!

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surferdudes

Talk about going empty in the back field, how about Rojo, and Fourny in the back field at the same time! Come on Lefty, use your imagination.

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plopes808

The thing about Brady is when Evans is doubled, he will throw elsewhere. This is how he limits the risk of interceptions. For 5 years Evans was force-fed the ball regardless of coverage so of course his stats will decline. This is why I avoided Bucs offensive players this year in fantasy. The only record we will see increase will be the W-L record.

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SaskBucs

Big Sombrero needs to get that sombrero off his eyes or off Jameis’ dick. Brady is throwing down field early and often. He is connecting on most of them. I just saw some stat maybe you can look it up but he is most accurate QB over 20 yards in the league right now or something. Maybe not after the show Mahomes put on last night but Brady is helping this team win in ways Jameis never could. I defended and liked Jameis for most of his tenure with the Bucs, the guy has a good arm and can make… Read more »