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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds 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.

QUESTION: What the hell was Antonio Brown doing? I have been a defender, but I’m done. Can they place him in some sort of reserve list until after the season then cut him?

ANSWER: Here is what we know regarding former Bucs wide receiver Antonio Brown. The volatile Brown was dealing with a sprained ankle and was asked to go back in the game twice in the third quarter, but refused. At that point, head coach Bruce Arians benched Brown, who didn’t take the news well. Brown was consoled by wide receiver Mike Evans, but removed his shoulder pads and gloves, took off his shirt, flashed the peace sign to the Jets crowd, ran down the tunnel and left the stadium.

Former Bucs WR Antonio Brown

Former Bucs WR Antonio Brown – FOX

At that moment, Brown’s Bucs career was over. But Brown wasn’t cut after the game. At the time of this writing, the team is contemplating whether to cut Brown or suspend him. Suspending him would keep him away from other NFC playoff contenders. Tampa Bay did a similar thing with former Bucs receiver Keyshawn Johnson in 2003 when he had a heated blow-up with head coach Jon Gruden.

The reality is that Brown’s NFL career is likely over. While he can still play at age 33, Brown’s erratic behavior has run him out of Pittsburgh, Oakland, New England and now Tampa Bay. If Brown couldn’t stick around a players’ coach like Arians and play for quarterback Tom Brady – what team would want him? What situation exists where Brown would find success? And Brown has dealt with foot and ankle injuries this year. Is he healthy enough to be worth the trouble elsewhere? Probably not.

At the end of the day, Brown was a hired gun in Tampa Bay. He was signed to catch passes and win games. Not be a choir boy because that type of behavior is not a part of his character. It’s one thing to have his COVID vaccination card shenanigans surface and get suspended by the NFL for three games. It’s another thing to defy Arians, who has stood by Brown, and blow his last chance in the NFL.

QUESTION: Obviously the ticking time bomb went off and I think every agrees Antonio Brown needed to be cut. Do you think if Bruce Arians was out this week with COVID that the same results would have happened with Harold Goodwin as the fill-in coach?

ANSWER: Wow. That’s a great hypothetical question, and one we’ll never know the answer to. Bruce Arians cleared the COVID protocol and was able to re-join the team for Sunday’s game at New York. Would Harold Goodwin have benched Antonio Brown like Arians did when Brown refused to go back into the game? I’m not sure. Maybe that would have led to Byron Leftwich dealing with Brown instead and might have resulted in a different outcome.

But as you said in your question. Brown was a ticking time bomb – one that didn’t go off last year in the Bucs’ Super Bowl LV championship. But Brown went off on Sunday in the third quarter, and he obviously overreacted to being benched. That overreaction outburst cost him his roster spot in Tampa Bay and probably the continuation of his NFL career. The bigger question is will Brown’s departure cost the Bucs a chance at winning another Super Bowl?

QUESTION: How long would it take Larry Fitzgerald to be ready to play?

ANSWER: While it seems like a natural fit – signing former Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald to help replace Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown – it doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards for the Bucs. While Fitzgerald knows Bruce Arians’ offense and thrived in the slot receiver role that Godwin occupied before his injury, the future Hall of Famer is 38 and retired from the league this offseason.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Fitzgerald’s play significantly diminished last year, which was his 17th season in the NFL. He caught 54 passes for 409 yards and one touchdown in 2020. That’s a paltry 7.6 average, which is a sign that he can no longer run or separate. No surprise given the fact that he was 37.

To expect Fitzgerald to come to Tampa Bay and step in and make more of an impact than Cyril Grayson, Jr., Breshad Perriman and Tyler Johnson without any training camp would probably result in an immediate injury (see Richard Sherman). Fitzgerald would probably take a few weeks to get back in football shape if he didn’t hurt himself, and it’s doubtful his addition would help the Bucs.

Tampa Bay needs Mike Evans’ hamstring to get healthy. Evans and Rob Gronkowski must step up and play like stars. Then Tom Brady needs guys like Grayson, Perriman and Johnson to continue to make plays in Godwin and Brown’s absence.

QUESTION: Tom Brady won this game, but how much of this win was because the Bucs believed they’d win and the Jets believed they’d lose? It reminded me of Brady in the Super Bowl against Atlanta where you just knew Falcons, even with the lead, didn’t believe in themselves.

ANSWER: The Bucs’ belief in Tom Brady was forged last year when he led them to a pair of 17-point comeback wins over the Chargers at home and the Falcons on the road. Throw in the fact that Brady helped the Bucs win Super Bowl LV in his first season in Tampa Bay, and there is plenty of belief in the G.O.A.T.

Sunday’s 28-24 win over New York was just another instance where the Bucs’ belief in Brady kept them in the game until the very end. The Jets didn’t trail the Bucs for 59 minutes and 45 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to pull out the win. New York is 4-12 for a reason.

The Jets don’t know how to win yet. New York isn’t mature enough to close out a game like Sunday’s. The Bucs were like that for a decade under the likes of Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter before Bruce Arians and Brady arrived.

QUESTION: It seems that the lack of production from Devin White is hurting the team this year. With Lavonte David out and Kevin Minter being slower, White really needs to pick it up. Is there some reason why he has declined so much this year?

ANSWER: Devin White might have played his worst game of the season at New York. White struggled mightily to get off blocks and was a bystander for much of the game while the Jets rushed for 150 yards, two touchdowns and averaged 5.8 yards per carry. He finished with just two tackles, White’s lowest since Week 2 of his rookie season. And that was in Carolina after he injured his knee in the first quarter.

Bucs LBs Devin White and Lavonte David

Bucs LBs Devin White and Lavonte David – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The Bucs missed Lavonte David in the worst way against the Jets. While White only had a pair of tackles, Kevin Minter notched five tackles, but missed several others. And Minter was also a liability in coverage, as he struggled to keep up with the Jets backs that he was covering out of the backfield.

Not sure what has attributed to White’s step backward this year, and he has taken a step backward. Maybe it’s the hip injury he suffered at Indianapolis that is still impacting him. But White had four tackles at Carolina last week and just two at New York. His play is definitely heading in the wrong direction.

Tampa Bay desperately needs David to return from his foot injury for the first round of the playoffs. Getting David and outside linebacker Shaq Barrett back would prevent teams from running for 150 yards on the Bucs defense.

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About the Author: Scott Reynolds

Scott Reynolds is in his 27th 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 coordinator/defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
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76bucsfan46
76bucsfan46
4 months ago

AB has come out and said his ankle was hurt and they wanted him to go back in the game. That doesn’t sound like something BA would do.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
Reply to  76bucsfan46
4 months ago

You keep focusing on what AB is saying instead of looking at who AB is as a person. Remember his last game as a Steeler? Mike Tomlin benched him because he faked an injury and refused to practice! Ultimately it lead to the Steelers trading him to the Raiders where there again he was fined for not showing up for practice. He made matters worse by airing his grievance on Instagram & calling the GM “cracker”. Instead of releasing him Gruden begged him to come be a Raider, and play but how did AB decide to say Thank You Coach?… Read more »

drdneast
drdneast
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

Thanks for refresshing our memory.I always thought it was taking AB a long time to recover from a sprained ankle that morphed into a heel injury.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  drdneast
4 months ago

He had no problem bouncing all over the place saying good bye to his imaginary friends on National TV. NFL Commissioner should suspend him.

Spruce
Spruce
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

Say what? Maybe you missed the part where the Bucs viewed Brown as a hired gun aka dangerous and short term. Second chance huh lets count. First there was the dust up at Florida International that cost his full ride to be withdrawn. Then the Steelers, Raiders, Pats and lets not forget the vaccination fiasco. His career is about unlimited chances to this point and all the Bucs cared about was production which they got and now he’s gone.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
Reply to  76bucsfan46
4 months ago

Perhaps Antonio Brown is truthful when he says his ankle hurt and he did not want to go back on the field. After all, we KNOW that his ankle was hurt, we heard all week that his ankle was bothering him such that he was held out of practice. But at the same time, if a player tells a coach that he’s too hurt to go back out and play, with a known chronic injury, then I find it difficult to believe that Coach Arians would insist that he go back out no matter the pain. Usually it is the… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Naplesfan
Dude
Dude
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 months ago

I think you make a great point Naples. Another way to look at it, Brown needed to play to reach his incentives. It seems odd that he would not want to go back in the game knowing this. He didn’t really do much when he was in there, which before his tantrum, led me to believe he must have been hurting. This close to the playoffs, I find it hard to believe that BA would try to get a much needed player to go in the game if he’s hurt and risk a set back or further injury. Something doesn’t… Read more »

Eddie
Eddie
Reply to  Dude
4 months ago

There was another clip on you tube that said Brown basically complained to Brady that he was “going back to his boy Gronk”…. IF this is true, he could be throwing a tantrum because he was not getting enough attention from Brady and felt slighted. He was basically saying, I will not help you to win this game since you did not feature me, come beg me and maybe I will. And besides my ankle is not 100%

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
Reply to  Eddie
4 months ago

Nobody knows what was going on in his crazy-azz head. I think AB wasn’t interested in playing football anymore for whatever reason. Maybe because of his music video or his TV show, who knows. Better to get it out of the way now than have it happen in the playoffs. All in all, I still consider the AB signing worth it. He helped win a SB last year and helped this year’s team as well. Hopefully the other guys are ready to step up now.

Horse
Horse
Reply to  Naplesfan
4 months ago

He looked fine bouncing all around as he said his good by’s . Didn’t see any limp whatsoever.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly
4 months ago

Jets not knowing how to close out games might be the understatement of the Day. Just kicking the FG at worst forces Overtime because BA would never have gone for that 2 point conversion otherwise. This new Let’s GO For It Generation Brand of coaching I will never understand. They despise the Punt, the Field Goal and love the 2 point conversion.

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
Reply to  Captain Sly
4 months ago

I can see why they went for the fourth down. What do they have to lose, they’re a 4 win team. If they kick the FG they basically know Brady’s gonna take the ball right down the field and score a TD to tie the game. So they take a shot at getting the first down and winning the game. I’d have done the same. Now the play call is another story altogether. The play call was terrible. They were running the ball right down our throats, not sure why they didn’t just call another run. I guess because they’re… Read more »

Crack3rK
Crack3rK
4 months ago

Scott, It seems odd that a player who refuses to go into a game would react to a “benching” like that. Seems like he benched himself. Did BA tell him to get off the field? Not that it really matters. AB is unstable. I do wish it worked out differently, but it was always destined to blow up.

fredster
fredster
4 months ago

A.B. Wasn’t pissed because Arians tried to get him back in the game he was pissed because he was benched after refusing to go back in. That’s tells me he could play but only when he wanted to basically. Screw him he’s crazy and a total A hole of a person.

76Buc
76Buc
4 months ago

Has anyone mentioned that the Buc’s win total ties the 2001/2002 team for most wins in a season?
Also, forget the nut case who calls himself AB. He’s toast of the past; let’s talk about the future.

Dude
Dude
4 months ago

So, I wonder if the Bucs have been kicking the tires on Edelman? I actually think we’ll be fine with the guys we have, and Grayson might be a player. He was playing better than AB did when he was in there yesterday. In the 3 appearances where he’s got significant playing time, he’s impressed me, and it seems he has good hands.

FinkleisEinhorn
FinkleisEinhorn
4 months ago

Unfortunately, I think Devin White’s regression is a mental, not physical issue. Based on his immature celebrations after minor plays, his self-promoting speeches and the fact he was voted the #1 LB in the league – in his mind he believes he’s the best in the game and there is little to no room for improvement. I don’t think he’s working hard to become better or studying his tail off watching game film. I hope he proves me wrong, but I’m concerned the playoffs last year was a flash in the pan, and he’s not the all-pro superstar he thinks… Read more »

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
Reply to  FinkleisEinhorn
4 months ago

I highly doubt Licht would draft differently because the team didn’t have a need for starters. That would be foolish and short-sighted. Regardless of the talent a team has and how complete it looks in the off-season there will always be injuries and aging. The 2 ILB he drafted were the last regular pick in round 5 and the very last player selected in the draft. Late picks like those are like lottery tickets, they don’t usually work out. So it’s not really a big surprise that neither has supplanted Minter. But ya, Minter sux.

WVBuc
WVBuc
4 months ago

Two things. First, I have been wishing for Larry Fitzgerald since CG went down. Fitzgerald shot that down on the podcast platform he shares with Brady. A more likely possible former Cardinal appears to be available if an additional WR is desired. John Brown has had a couple brief appearances this season with two teams. He seems to have not drawn any interest in terms of a regular roster spot so it’s questionable what he has left to give on the field. It’s not that long ago that most all players began a strong fade at age 30 so he… Read more »

Dman
Dman
4 months ago

Lots of speculation about problems AB is dealing with. But sometimes we over complicate things. Sounds like the real issue is the guy is just an ass.

aredsoxfan1
aredsoxfan1
Reply to  Dman
4 months ago

Indeed, he came as advertised. But it was still worth it because he contributed to a title.