The Pewter Report staff answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Monday Mailbag Submit your question to the Bucs Monday Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.
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Table of Contents
If you’re a long-time reader of the Bucs Monday Mailbag you likely know that Mark Cook started this column years ago. It’s been a staple feature here on Mondays ever since and will continue in his honor.
QUESTION: Should this be the end for Ryan Griffin? Kyle Trask should be taking his reps in my opinion. Trask’s receivers didn’t help him at all in the first preseason game.
ANSWER: A quick look at the box score shows that neither quarterback did very well in Tampa Bay’s first preseason game. Ryan Griffin was the third-string QB, completing 6-of-11 passes for 47 yards and throwing two costly interceptions in Bucs territory. Those turnovers led to 10 third quarter points in Cincinnati’s 19-14 win. Griffin was also sacked once.
What was disappointing about Griffin’s showing is that he’s a veteran entering his seventh season in Tampa Bay and his third year in Bruce Arians’ offense. He knows better than to throw into a crowd in the middle of the field, and he did that on both interceptions.
Bucs QB Kyle Trask – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Kyle Trask didn’t have the benefit of playing with the team’s second-stringers on Saturday night. He played exclusively with the third team and didn’t have a great supporting cast around him to offer much help. Trask finished the night completing just 4-of-15 passes for 35 yards and was sacked twice. I counted five drops, including a beautiful deep ball to Josh Pearson, by Trask’s receivers and tight ends.
Going 9-of-15 for probably close to 100 yards would be a much better statistical night for the rookie. And it could have led to a scoring drive or two that may have resulted in a Buccaneers victory. Griffin isn’t the future of this team. That will either be Trask or Blaine Gabbert, who is the current backup and an Arians favorite. The writing was on the wall when Trask was drafted. He was destined to be the third-string quarterback this year due to his second round draft status, with Griffin likely ending up on the practice squad.
With that in mind, it makes sense to give Trask some game reps with the weapons Griffin had to throw to – tight end Tanner Hudson instead of Codey McElroy, and receivers like Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson rather than Pearson (who was cut on Sunday) and Travis Jonsen. I’d like to see more of Trask and less of Griffin as the preseason rolls on. The rookie showed good poise in the pocket and didn’t get rattled by the pressure. And I like the fact that Trask let it rip down the field with some deep shots. I’m sure Arians liked that, too.
QUESTION: Does Devin White’s speed negate what Jordan Whitehead does best – setting the far outside edge against the run – thus lessening his on-field value? Hence, does this open the door for Mike Edwards to start, given his ball-hawking ability is now more valuable?
ANSWER: Very intriguing question. Having studied defensive football for over 25 years, the job of setting the edge is predicated more on defensive alignment rather than speed. It starts up front with the edge defenders – usually the outside linebackers in Tampa Bay’s scheme.
However, if there is a two-tight end set the Bucs defense is encountering, it may fall upon the strong safety or a cornerback to align himself as the edge defender responsible for contain. With Devin White being an inside linebacker typically in the middle of the defense, he would rarely be in position to set the edge unless defensive coordinator Todd Bowles deployed him at the line of scrimmage as an edge rusher as a new wrinkle.
Bucs LB Devin White and S Jordan Whitehead – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
I get what you are saying in regards to White’s sideline-to-sideline speed being very valuable to Tampa Bay’s defense. But that doesn’t negate Jordan Whitehead’s role as a strong safety at all. Each Bucs defender is responsible for a gap in run defense, and Whitehead does a good job in run support near the line of scrimmage. He also has value covering tight ends underneath.
Mike Edwards is a different type of safety. He’s got free safety instincts and ball skills, but enough size and tackling ability to play in the box as a strong safety. Until we see more tape from Edwards, I think Whitehead is more effective as a box safety at this stage. That’s not to say that Edwards isn’t capable of replacing Whitehead.
We’ll see how injured Whitehead is, as he missed the end of last week’s practices and the first preseason game. But Edwards has had a strong camp and would be an able replacement in the starting lineup if called upon.
QUESTION: Do you think the Bucs need to look at other teams’ cuts to get some better tackle depth on the O-line?
ANSWER: Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht and vice president of player personnel John Spytek are always on the lookout for upgrades at every position of their roster. Both men and director of pro scouting Rob McCartney will be pouring over preseason game film trying to find anyone on the waiver wire that can help the Bucs.
Having said that, it looks like the two reserve tackles behind starters Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs will be veteran Josh Wells and Nick Leverett. Wells didn’t play in the preseason opener after missing most of last week due to personal reasons, but is expected back at the AdventHealth Training Center this week. He’s been in Arians’ offense for three years now and started for Smith at Atlanta last year. The team trusts him as the first tackle off the bench, as he can play either side of the line.
Bucs LT Nick Leverett – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Leverett is a former college guard that is getting a look at left tackle due to his athleticism. At 6-foot-4, 310 pounds, Leverett doesn’t have the ideal measurements to play tackle, but has held his own at the position in camp. He survived his first preseason outing against Cincinnati and it will be interesting to see how he improves in Saturday’s game versus Tennessee. The fact that he can provide depth at both guard and tackle makes him more valuable.
Yet if there is a player available that Licht and Co. like better when roster cuts come down, the Bucs won’t hesitate to make a move. The best thing Leverett can do is to continue to stand out in camp and show improvement in the preseason, where he’ll get a long look in the next two games.
QUESTION: So, you dropped a hint in the 2-Point Conversion related to Jamel Dean. Come on, Scott. Don’t make a scene, tell us the deal with Dean.
ANSWER: I did find it odd that starting cornerback Jamel Dean was seeing some game action in the third quarter with the third-team defense, and wrote this in my post-game 2-Point Conversion column: “It was interesting to note that Dean was also playing with the third-team defense. File that away for later.” There is a reason why Dean was playing, and although we didn’t get to ask Arians about it in the post-game or during Sunday’s press conference, we plan on asking him to address it after Monday’s practice.
Bucs CB Jamel Dean and Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase – Photo by: USA Today
The Bucs have plenty of reserve cornerbacks in Antonio Hamilton, Herb Miller, Dee Delaney, Nate Brooks and Chris Wilcox, the team’s seventh-round pick. We can only speculate that the coaching staff felt Dean needed to see more preseason action. Dean hasn’t had a bad training camp, but he hasn’t been as consistent as fellow starters Carlton Davis III and Sean Murphy-Bunting.
The reason I said file that away for later is to just see how he progresses in the preseason. If this becomes a trend where Dean is still left on the field after the starters depart it could be a troubling sign for the third-year cornerback. Pro Football Focus gave Dean a 37.3 overall grade for the Bucs vs. Bengals game, including a 33.8 grade in coverage. Dean finished the game with one tackle and was flagged for pass interference.
Dean logged 18 snaps on defense against Cincinnati, which was two more than Delaney and a few less than Hamilton, Brooks and Miller, who all played 23 snaps. Wilcox and Kinley played the most with 40 and 34 snaps apiece. Kinley was waived on Sunday. Davis and Murphy-Bunting played only six snaps against the Bengals.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: email@example.com
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