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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: If Byron Leftwich becomes the head coach for another team next season, who would take over as offensive coordinator for Bucs?
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ANSWER: The Bucs have a couple ways they could go if offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich leaves Tampa Bay for a head coaching job next year. Harold Goodwin, Tampa Bay’s run game coordinator, could take over as the team’s play-caller. He’s been a longtime Bruce Arians assistant and has the head coach’s trust. The fact that Goodwin – not Leftwich or Todd Bowles – is the assistant head coach also speaks volumes.
Arians has always believed in meritocracy, but within that he has looked to promote diversity as much as possible. Goodwin is a heck of an offensive line coach and a great leader of men. He’s more than deserving of the role of play-caller, and elevating another minority coach may be what Arians has in mind.
Bucs OC Byron Leftwich, HC Bruce Arians, WRs coach Kevin Garver, OL coach Harold Goodwin – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
At the same time, wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, is also deserving of consideration. He hasn’t been with Arians as long, but he has been with him since his Arizona days in 2013. Garver is an excellent communicator and he’s highly involved with the passing game, which is Arians’ passion.
While quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, who is 65, has plenty of experience as a play-caller in the NFL with stops in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, Garver is a young, up-and-coming star in the coaching ranks. At the age of 34, Garver might be the guy that Arians wants to fast track into the role of play-caller like he did with the 41-year old Leftwich.
Leftwich has done a remarkable job with Tampa Bay’s offense over the last three years. The Bucs have increased their point production in each of the last three seasons to 28.6 points in 2019 to 30.8 points in the regular season last year. This year, Tampa Bay’s offense is averaging 33.3 points per game, which ranks third. With Leftwich calling plays, the Bucs have been in the Top 5 in scoring offense in each of the past three seasons.
QUESTION: Is there any player you think the Bucs will target in trade deadline?
ANSWER: No. I don’t think Tampa Bay will be targeting a specific player next week at the trading deadline, nor do I believe the Bucs will be trading anyone away. That goes for running back Ronald Jones II and tight end O.J. Howard.
Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: USA Today
Remember, if a player like Jones or Howard isn’t re-signed in free agency next year and signs a fairly sizable contract elsewhere, the Bucs will be rewarded with a compensatory pick the following year in 2023. So Bucs general manager Jason Licht can still come away with some draft picks for a few Tampa Bay players who may not be long term fits. And what would Jones or Howard fetch in a trade right now? Likely a Day 3 draft pick at best.
That’s not worth it to Licht and the Bucs, who saw depth play a key role in Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl LV run last year. Key contributors like tight end Cam Brate, guard Aaron Stinnie, cornerback Ross Cockrell and running back Leonard Fournette were instrumental in helping the Bucs win the Super Bowl. Players like Jones and Howard already know the offense and have a track record of success in it.
There’s real value in that, especially right now for a 6-1 Bucs team that has a legitimate chance of making it back to the Super Bowl. Much more value than a Day 3 pick that may or may not work out in the future.
QUESTION: This Bucs team has a lot of star power that the national sports media focuses on, but who is the “no-namer” that is most important to this team?
ANSWER: Offensively, it has to be the entire offensive line. There has been little national recognition for Tampa Bay’s offensive line so far, and that’s disappointing. Tristan Wirfs has given up one sack in 27 games and is playing at a Pro Bowl level. He’s the best right tackle in football, as far as I’m concerned. Left tackle Donovan Smith is enjoying the best start to any season he’s played. He’s been so much more consistent. Smith is toying with most edge rushers. He deserves some Pro Bowl consideration too.
Bucs C Ryan Jensen – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Left guard Ali Marpet has been playing at a Pro Bowl level for years now. His consistency and dominance in the run game is rarely talked about outside of the Tampa Bay media. Ryan Jensen may be having his best year at center, and he is constantly delivering some highlight reel hits, smashes and pancakes at the line of scrimmage and down the field on screens. Yet, no mention of him nationally, outside of offensive line guru Brandon Thorn. It’s a shame.
Right guard Alex Cappa is playing quite well in his contract year and he’ll likely get a sizable new deal in free agency. Yet he’s probably fifth on the offensive line when ranking each starter, and he’s only the weak link by default because of the talent around him. There’s no question that the “no-namers” along the offensive line have been the key to Tampa Bay averaging 33.3 points per game this year.
Defensively, there have been several “no-namers” in the unit’s depth that have kept the level of play adequate enough to win with, while the starters have been out with injuries. This includes reserve linebacker Kevin Minter, backup cornerbacks Richard Sherman, Dee Delaney and Pierre Desir, and No. 3 safety Mike Edwards.
The Bucs have plenty of star power on both sides of the ball. But they also have plenty of really solid – and even some spectacular – “no-namers” that have contributed greatly to the team’s hot 6-1 start. Quality depth is not an underrated attribute in the NFL.
QUESTION: Why is Tampa Bay so amazing?
ANSWER: This one’s easy. It’s talent on the roster and top-notch coaching. It starts with general manager Jason Licht and the personnel department stocking this roster full of all-star talent over the years through the draft, free agency and trades. This is the most talented Bucs team I’ve ever seen, and that includes the 2002 Super Bowl champion team, too.
The reason why this year’s Tampa Bay team is more talented is because of the depth, as I’ve previously alluded to. That’s also a tribute to Licht, vice president of player personnel John Spytek and director of pro personnel Rob McCartney for finding players like Richard Sherman, Dee Delaney, Pierre Desir and Rashard Robinson off the street this year to step in and make an immediate impact when called upon. The 2020 and 2021 Bucs are deeper than the 2002 and 2003 teams were.
Bucs HC Bruce Arians and LB Devin White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
There is plenty of star power in Tampa Bay, but there are also plenty of outstanding coaches, too. Bruce Arians has assembled a loyal staff that has been together for years. The continuity on the coaching staff has allowed each unit to know what is expected of it in terms of play and the position coaches know how to get the job done because of the familiarity with the systems in place.
I’ve covered some Tampa Bay coaching staffs in previous years under Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter that might have a handful of really talented assistants, but also a handful of assistants that simply shouldn’t be in the NFL. This coaching staff from start to finish doesn’t have any weak links and reminds me of the ultra-talented coaching staffs that both Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden put together in the 1990s and 2000s.
Well-coached teams stocked with talent should win at any level of football. That’s exactly what is happening in Tampa Bay with the 6-1 Buccaneers. The coaches are bringing out the best in the game’s best players each week. It’s definitely been a fun ride these last two years for everyone around Tampa Bay. Enjoy it while it lasts, because it won’t last forever.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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