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: Does Shaq Barrett break the Bucs’ single season sack record? If so, who would you rather use the franchise tag on – him or Jameis Winston (assuming Winston doesn’t do quite enough for a long-term extension)?
Answer: There is still a long way to go this season, but Barrett is certainly on pace to do so. Warren Sapp holds there Bucs single season mark with 16.5 set in 2000. Sapp had 2.5 sacks through the first two games that year, while Barrett has four so far this season. The key to breaking Tampa Bay’s record will be multi-sack games here and there. In 2000, Sapp had five games where he registered more than one QB capture. But as good as he was, there were four games where Sapp was stonewalled and failed to notch a sack.
If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t put my money on Barrett breaking Sapp’s record, however. And it isn’t that I don’t believe he is talented. It is just there isn’t another big time threat opposite Barrett to get to the quarterback showing up right now. Opposing teams aren’t stupid. When they put on the Carolina tape, they will see a left tackle getting abused and know they need to give him some help. Plus, the season has 14 games left and injury and attrition will play a part as well.
To get in that 15-plus sack range, a lot has to go right, including staying healthy, and Barrett has never been a full-time starter in the NFL. How will be hold up to the rigors of playing as many snaps per game that he has through the first two games, all season long?
Maybe if Jason Pierre-Paul gets back mid-season and that helps Barrett. With an additional edge rushing threat, it could free Barrett up for more one-on-one opportunities.
As far as who you give the franchise tag or big extension to – to Jameis Winston or Barrett – if both have outstanding seasons? I think the long-term deal would go to Winston. If the Bucs are convinced he is their guy for the long haul, then they get that wrapped up and out of the way. That doesn’t mean Tampa Bay can’t extend both of them, but it would be a little cheaper to tag Barrett.
Question: What would it take from Jameis Winston to get a new contract instead of being tagged?
Answer: A trip to the playoffs would most likely guarantee a new contract for Winston. Ultimately, it comes down to wins and losses for a quarterback to be viewed as successful. Stats are great, but if Winston can lead the Bucs from a 5-11 team to a 10-6 team and a playoff berth, I think Bruce Arians and Jason Licht will feel very comfortable moving forward with a long-term contract.
And if this team wins 10 games, then Winston will have performed well enough statically as well. Teams typically don’t win 10 games in the NFL by accident or with bad quarterback play.
Question: How would you grade the play calling of Byron Leftwhich through the first two games? What, in your opinion, can he do to improve upon his first two games as a full-time play caller?
Answer: Right now, I would probably give Byron Leftwich a “C” grade. That’s based more on results than anything – one win and one loss averages to a “C” in my opinion. I believe Leftwich is still getting his footing in the play-calling role. Yes, I know he had some experience last season with the Cardinals, but being the full-time play-caller from the first day of the offseason, with a brand new group of offensive players is different than taking over mid-season and running someone else’s offense.
The pressure of the situation isn’t easy, knowing Leftwich has been entrusted by Bruce Arians to lead an offense with a room full of potential Pro Bowlers is a lot different than taking over an extremely young, Cardinals team in turmoil last season. I do believe Leftwich finds his rhythm soon and he figures out what each guy does best. And he has an excellent mentor in Arians who can help guide him.
Question: A position we are in need of who would we trade for? I’m hearing rumors Tampa Bay might be looking into trading for Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Answer: From what we have heard, the Bucs are not in the Minkah Fitzpatrick sweepstakes at all, and have no desire to jump in the mix. The Bucs seem content with what they have now in the secondary – even without Justin Evans – and the results from the first two games speak for themselves. And this young secondary group should only get better with more experience in the Todd Bowles’ scheme.
The Bucs front office is always looking to upgrade the roster, and are always looking for players that fit in their system and can make the team better. Tampa Bay doesn’t view the overrated Fitzpatrick as one or those players, and isn’t interested in making a trade. The Bucs passed over him in the 2018 draft and weren’t interested in him then. Not much has changed since.
There is a reason why the Dolphins don’t want Fitzpatrick anymore and are letting him pursue a trade. He’s not really a safety and he’s not really a cornerback in their system. Not to mention he’s not a sure tackler.