The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our @PewterReportTwitter 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. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: Given success and mental toughness of teams such as the Steelers, Patriots and now the Jaguars that espouse lots of conditioning & contact during training camp, I’d be curious to hear Koetter’s updated view on the topic and what reason he has for light camp other than to minimize injury.
Answer: It will be interesting to see exactly how Koetter handles things this camp. Were the Bucs 5-11 last year because they had a softer camp than previous coaches? Obviously the answer is no, at least not entirely. There were plenty of other issues (injuries, lack of running game and pass rush) and having a more physical camp would not have changed any of those problems, in my opinion. However, I do believe that, at the very least, it can instill some mental toughness that down the road, say in a close fourth quarter game, that might be the difference in the outcome. And even if it changes just one game, maybe that one game is the difference between 9-7 and 10-6 and a playoff berth or not.
I’ve mentioned the Jaguars running sprints following the joint practices last year with Tampa Bay, and how quickly the Bucs wanted to get off the field following the sweltering heat last August. Heck, I couldn’t wait to get back in the air conditioning myself. But Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone wanted to make a statement to their players after spending the previous four seasons under “Mr. Nice Guy” Gus Bradley. The organization needed to change the mentality of the Jaguars and it obviously worked.
As far as a tougher camp, I most certainly would like to see more inside tough drills, more goal line and my past camp favorites, the 1-on1’s between the offensive line and defensive line. I don’t think we need to see tackling to the ground, but despite these guys knowing how to tackle, what is wrong with working on the the fundamentals a little more? To perfect your craft you have to practice your craft.
At the end of the day, it is Dirk Koetter’s team and his call. He has weighed out all the different options and worked out the “what-if’s”, and he will design camp around what he thinks is the best way for this team to succeed in 2018. We will see if it was the right approach in a few months.
Question: If Bucs went 0-3 without Winston and finished with a losing record, would it be Winston’s fault Koetter gets fired in your opinion?
Answer: I don’t know if you can pin that squarely on Winston, as not many, myself included, expected them to go 3-0 to open the season even with Winston under center. That is a tough three-game stretch and I am not sure if Tom Brady morphed with Joe Montana with a sprinkle of Johnny Unitas thrown in and quarterbacked this team, they would go 3-0. The NFL did this team no favors with the schedule this year.
And, even if the Bucs do start 0-3, that doesn’t mean that Koetter is on the chopping block. I think the last 13 games will determine his fate as head coach. Now, if they go 3-13, he most likely doesn’t survive, but if they get close to or exceed the .500 mark then he most likely is back again. There is this narrative that Koetter has to make the playoffs to keep his job, but that isn’t a fact. Any improvement over 5-11 will get the conversation started on him staying, and I think an 8-8 record almost guarantees Koetter at least one more year.
Question: With a badly divided fan base due to the actions of a single player who happens to be the face of the franchise, how the hell are we supposed to feel anything but flat in what should be an exciting time of anticipation?
Answer: It is okay to feel flat, uninspired and even apathetic. This team hasn’t done anything to change that view point over the last 10 or so seasons, and now throw in the Winston mess and it is beyond frustrating.
I get it.
But most fans were extremely excited for last season and that didn’t turn out too good. I know you, Garv. I know when this team comes out of the tunnel in the home opener against the Eagles you’ll be on your feet screaming like the crazy fan you are. The “flat” feeling you’ve had all offseason will disappear and you’ll forget all about it. It will be time for football, and the drug called the Buccaneers will get you higher than a Jimi Hendrix show at Curtis Hixon in 1969. “That is what I love about sports, man. The past is the past and hope springs eternal. Let’s play ball men. And I dig me some Purple Haze man!”(in my Jon Gruden voice).
Question: What’s the latest on Kendell Beckwith? Any chance he’s ready for training camp?
Answer: It is still up in the air and even a team source says it is still to soon to know for sure. His recovery is going well and the Bucs expect him to be ready to contribute this year, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him start camp on the PUP list. The good news is the linebacker depth is pretty good on this team and obviously the two main starters, Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander are back and ready to improve on solid seasons last year. Both of those guys should be considerably better with a better group plying in front of them this year.