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The Pewter Report Bucs Monday Mailbag is where Mark Cook answers your questions from our Pewter Report Twitter account. You can submit your question to the Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Here are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the Pewter Report’s Bucs Monday Mailbag.

Question: According to people more knowledgeable than I, this year’s DL class was rotten and next year’s isn’t supposed to be much better. Can the Bucs develop enough young guys like Davis to step in? Are there free agents we should look at? Trade?

Answer: While it wasn’t particularly deep on the surface, it is premature to say it was rotten. Thin, lackluster or maybe underwhelming might be better descriptions, however let’s revisit it in three years. Sometimes players turn out much better than the initial prognosis, and some years the class turns out to be worse than anticipated. With that said, the Buccaneers didn’t add any defensive tackles in the draft, believing this class was lacking good value at the position. That was a big reason why the team chose to bring back Ndamukong Suh, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and and Steve McLendon in free agency.

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh

Bucs DT Ndamukong Suh – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The staff and front office have hopes for some of the younger players like Khalil Davis, Jeremiah Ledbetter, Benning Potoa’e and Pat O’Connor. The best teams who sustain long-term success are usually the ones who can draft and develop later round picks or even undrafted free agents. That is where really good coaching staffs separate themselves from average ones.

As far as free agents, the top ones of course have been snapped up already, but as always there will be cuts, perhaps even a couple of surprising ones once camps get started. I believe the Bucs are okay with the current roster they have and trust they will be fine at the position. They need to get younger in the future, but the team is geared up to try and make another run at a title this season. Tampa Bay will look to the 2022 draft to replenish defensive tackle, although Scott Reynolds recently agreed with your assessment that the 2022 class might not be much better than this season’s, calling it “iffy” at this point.

Question: Does Tom Brady get into the Ring of Honor? Even if he only plays 2-3 seasons?

Answer: That will depend on how things go over the next two seasons. And if he in fact decides to play that long. We’ve never gotten the exact criteria for who and how Ring of Honor players are selected. The Glazer family, with consultation, have been the ones who determine who is bestowed that honor every year.

But what if Brady only manages one championship in Tampa Bay, say in three seasons? That would be the same result as Brad Johnson who has yet to be selected as a Ring of Honor member. I don’t foresee Johnson ever having his name hung on the wall of Raymond James Stadium.

There are some differences between Johnson and Brady however. Johnson was more of a game manager type quarterback, and the defense in 2002 was really the catalyst behind that Super Bowl win. Tampa’s 2020 defense was important this past season, but Brady’s arrival in Tampa Bay signaled a shift in everything. The coaches coached better, the front office scouted better. The janitors vacuumed the hallways better. We can’t underestimate what Brady’s arrival meant to the organization.

Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Former Bucs head coach Tony Dungy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

When we look at the players who are in the current Ring of Honor, all but Jimmie Giles (drafted by the Houston Oilers) were drafted and developed by the team. That seems to be a big part of the criteria for being selected as a member. Although I do expect to see a couple others acquired as free agents like Simeon Rice and Hardy Nickerson as serious candidates for future consideration.

But to finally answer your question, with another Super Bowl title, I think Brady ends up as a Ring of Honor member even though his time as a Buccaneer might only be for three seasons.

Question: The Bucs had relatively few injuries last year and it played a large part in their success. Is that just lucky coincidence or are the players doing something different? Maybe the TB12 method?

Answer: There is no question that luck does play into a lack of injuries over the course of a season. With 22 players on the field at one time, banging heads and looking to physically dominate their opponent, injuries are always going to occur. But the healthiest teams tend to be the ones standing in the end.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Kansas City is a perfect example of how bad luck with injuries can derail a season. The Chiefs were 14-2 in the regular season, but playing a Super Bowl without their two starting tackles was a huge advantage for the Buccaneers and a big reason Kansas City wasn’t able to repeat.

Staying healthy in warm weather NFL cities is a little more challenging according to some sports scientists and physicians as the humidity and heat tend to take more of a toll on soft tissue injuries like hamstrings. These issues can be partially mitigated by not overworking players during the unbearable heat of the late summer during training camp.

It is a fine line and no one has figured out the exact science to say how much is too little or too much. But whatever the Buccaneers did in 2020 they need to repeat again. From the food and nutrition, to supplements, to their lift schedule and yes even the TB12 method, it worked well and the team hopes a repeat of that can continue this season. But even all of that won’t prohibit Bruce Arians and Jason Licht from carrying their lucky rabbit’s foot and four leaf clovers in their pockets every week.

Question: Rank the top four players that the Bucs could least afford to lose during the season taking depth, leadership presence and role on the field into account.

Answer:  It’s kind of cheating to say quarterback Tom Brady, as it is pretty clear the chances of repeating as Super Bowl champs without Brady under center is nearly zero.

QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today

Secondly, I would have to say losing Donovan Smith would be a huge blow to this team if he were to be lost for the season with a major injury. Smith is the most important player on the offensive line and there really isn’t a lot to get excited about behind him if he suffered a bad injury.

While Devin White is the outspoken leader of the defense, losing Lavonte David would be an even more devastating blow to the team. David is the heart and soul of the defense and the things he does – many unnoticed – aren’t things that just anyone off the street can do. We have seen the Buccaneers get by without White, but in the case of David, there is a big unknown.

Lastly, losing their best cover cornerback Carlton Davis would create major issues in the defensive backfield for Todd Bowles and his defense. Davis is the Bucs best version of a shutdown cornerback, and also the most experienced member of the secondary. Losing their top corner would create a domino effect in the secondary that would put less proven corners like Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean in unenviable positions.

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About the Author: Mark Cook

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 mark@pewterreport.com
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5 months ago

I think it would be a sharp poke in the eye to the Pats if the Bucs put Brady in the ROH.. To my knowledge John Lynch is the only other player who has that honor being in the Broncos and Bucs ROH’s.

Reply to  drdneast
5 months ago

There’s a few, but yea, it is rare. The Broncos actually have another one, with Manning being in both theirs and the Colts rings. Reggie White made it with both the Eagles (he actually played 8 seasons in PHI vs 6 in GB, racking up 124 sacks in his first stop vs only 68.5 in GB) and Packers rings. Doug Williams is in with both WFT and us. Interestingly, two RBs, Eric Dickerson and Marshall Faulk, both made it into both Indy’s and the Rams’ rings (the Rams don’t currently have a ring in their new stadium but did in… Read more »

5 months ago

I always read every year how tons of players have a stellar final season in college and turn into star players for the Draft. I can understand thinking now that next years Draft Class will be “iffy” at certain positions but there’s absolutely no way to know until the season is played. Whoever will be Drafted next year had their 2nd to last season interrupted by Covid and opt outs and all that. Let’s see what these kids can do next season and deal with who to pick then…

5 months ago

Also, losing Smith would be a big deal for sure, we need our best 5 out there at all times, we saw how much it hurts to lose even 1, BUT I do feel like Wirfs stands a decent chance at swapping to the left side and still dominating while finding someone like Stinnie or Cappa to slide into RT. Having Wirfs to me is a huge deal in terms of having security at either Tackle position. Still want Smith to keep playing hard and stay healthy though of course…

Reply to  Spitfire
5 months ago

Agreed. On MC’s list of 4 players we could least afford to lose I would replace Donovan Smith with Succop and replace Carlton Davis with JPP.

Reply to  Spitfire
5 months ago

It’s tough to know for sure about Tristan’s ability to switch to the left side. He played plenty there in college, but I’ve heard multiple tackles talk about the immense difficulty of switching sides. Doing it midseason could be very difficult, but I think it’s really a case by case thing for players and what they’re capable of doing in that specific skill. Either way though, Smith definitely makes my list, because if he goes down, even if Tristan can hold down LT, that creates a significant hole at RT, one I’m not remotely confident any of the IOL guys… Read more »

Captain Sly
5 months ago

4 Players Bucs can least afford to lose? In this order Donavan Smith, Tom Brady, Tristan Wirfs, Ryan Jensen. Might surprise most but I think the GOAT is replaceable!

Reply to  Captain Sly
5 months ago

by whom ???? really ?? I don’t think so !

Captain Sly
Reply to  inspecto
5 months ago

“Don’t make me say it” Mr Inspecto!

5 months ago

These are some of the best questions I’ve seen on the Monday Mailbag.

When most folks have no idea who would replace Ryan Jensen (Donell Stanley) at center; he has to be on the list. Likewise, although Nacho and McClendon filled in for him, there’s a big drop-off from Vita Vea. Totally agree with Donovan Smith being far more important than people think. I sure don’t want Josh Wells or Brad Seaton at LT for very long. Like my friend Pinkstob, losing JPP would present a challenge.

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