The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Pewter Report 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: If the Bucs win the Super Bowl is it a walk off for Bruce Arians back to retirement? And if so, is it Todd Bowles or Byron Leftwich that replaces him (or someone else)?
Answer: If the Bucs beat the Chiefs and win Super Bowl LV could there ever be a better storybook ending and time for Bruce Arians to to walk away? A coach who comes out of retirement, assembles a staff, spends the first season trying to change the culture of the organization then a world-wide pandemic hits. He signs a new quarterback but can’t have any offseason to get Tom Brady acclimated to his new teammates and the new scheme. There is no preseason. The team faces a mid-season slide, losing three of four games and in doubt of even making the playoffs. They the Bucs go on a late-season surge, winning its last four regular season games. The playoffs begin and the Bucs must go on the road and knock off three division winners and then goes to – and wins – the Super Bowl in the team’s home stadium. Hollywood would reject that movie script 10 out of 10 times. Too unbelievable and impossible to make audiences accept.
Yet, here we are.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: USA Today
While it might seem like the perfect time for Arians to walk away – if the Bucs win on February 7 – why not try and repeat? By all accounts Arians is healthier now than he was when he walked away in 2017, and with him delegating more, that likely has helped his overall health situation.
And don’t forget Arians is a Bear Bryant disciple having coached at Alabama with the legendary coach, and Bryant’s fate is probably in the back of Arians’ mind. Bryant retired from coaching the Crimson Tide following the 1982 season, and four weeks later died. At the same time we know Arians loves spending time with his family and also loves his peaceful days he gets to spend at his lake home in Georgia, so if the Buccaneers do in fact end up with their second Lombardi Trophy in two weeks, that thought might pop up in Arians’ mind, too.
If by chance Arians would step down I think defensive coordinator Todd Bowles would be given the first chance to take over. Bowles, despite a lackluster head coaching record with the Jets, is well respected in the halls of One Buc and we now know Bowles does have an interest in becoming a head coach again, following his interview with the Falcons earlier this month and reports of interest from Detroit and Philadelphia. Leftwich will eventually become a serious head coaching candidate most likely, but I would bet the Glazers would take a chance on Bowles over Leftwich, based on Bowles’ age and experience.
Question: How do the Bucs slow down Chiefs weapons Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce? They had their way early in the first match-up against Tampa Bay.
Answer: Who built the pyramids? Where did Stonehenge come from? How do you slow down the Kansas City Chiefs? Those might be three of the world’s biggest mysteries. None have really been answered completely, and I am not sure the Bucs have any answers at this point – especially for the last question.
Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill and Bucs CB Carlton Davis III – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
When the two teams met earlier this season, speedy Pro Bowl wideout Tyreek Hill was a one-man wrecking crew, catching 13 passes for 269 yards and scoring three times. Clearly the answer to stopping Hill is not playing man coverage with little-to-no safety help. Hill is too fast and too shifty to try and just put a cornerback on them and think that is enough. Of course even if you manage to slow Hill down, as the Bucs did after a monster first quarter, the Chiefs have other play-makers that can hurt a defense as well, including Pro Bowl tight end Travis Kelce as you mentioned.
The best way to slow Hill, Kelce and others down starts with slowing down quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He is the straw that stirs the drink in Kansas City, and is a challenge by himself with his ability to run, escape pressure and improvise on the fly. Getting pressure on Mahomes – and not just pressure – but getting him on the turf with sacks is about he only way you can expect to slow the Chiefs offense down. Having second-year cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting come up with yet another postseason interception – he has three in the last three playoff games – would also help. Over the next two weeks we will dig much deeper into the match-ups and schemes we feel will give the Buccaneers the best chance for success.
Question: Is Vita Vea that vital for Shaq Barrett to be dominant again?
Bucs OLB Shaq Barrett – Photo by: USA Today
Answer: Apparently he is a good luck charm for Shaquil Barrett, who had three sacks at Green Bay, at the very least. On Sunday Barrett looked like the 2019 version of himself where multi-sack games were fairly common. Vea’s presence in the middle can’t be understated after watching the Bucs beat the Packers on Sunday. His ability to get pressure up the middle caused Aaron Rodgers to flush to his left and right on a number of drop backs and there was Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul waiting for the sack.
Not all of the sacks came because of Vea however, as Barrett feasted on Green Bay’s backup right tackle and probably had his best game of the season in timing the snap and using his excellent get-off to create trouble for Rick Wagner. Barrett’s best game of the year came at the perfect time as the Buccaneers needed every one of those pressures and sacks to do just enough to slow down the Packers offense and limit them to just 26 points.
Question: Has Donovan Smith earned his $14 million for next year?
Answer: It is kind of funny to think back to around mid-season and remember how many in the media – myself included – had already run Donovan Smith out of town for 2021. And there were some games where the criticism was warranted and certainly some games over the previous last few years that led us to believe Smith could be released this offseason and replaced with possibly Tristan Wirfs or by a free agent or a draft pick. But since the Saints crushed the Bucs, 38-3, on Sunday Night Football, Smith has played his best stretch of football of his career and barring anything crazy happening, is locked into the starter’s role for next season.
And it isn’t even out of the questions that the Buccaneers could look to extend Smith’s deal, which will be in it’s final year in 2021. Smith has proven to be a key piece to the success of the offense over the last seven games, all of which have been wins. I wrote about Smith being the most important player for Tampa Bay’s success not named Brady last spring, writing the team will go as far as Smith’s play dictates. And in the last seven games – all of them wins – Smith has played outstanding.
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, the beach and family time.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@example.com
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