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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.
QUESTION: Will the Bucs regret letting Jameis Winston go?
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ANSWER: I assume you’re referencing Jameis Winston’s five-touchdown debut as the New Orleans starter in the Saints’ 38-3 win over the Packers? The short answer is that time will tell if letting Winston go will cause the Bucs to regret their decision. If Winston is the quarterback in New Orleans for a decade or more and wins Super Bowls and beats the Bucs regularly from now on, then yes, there could be some regret – in the future.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
But the longer, more complicated answer is that there is certainly no one in their right mind questioning the Bucs’ decision to let Winston go after the 2019 season and sign Tom Brady as his replacement. While 44-year old Brady will only play a few more years in Tampa Bay due to his age, he won a Super Bowl in his first season in Tampa Bay. And was the MVP of Super Bowl LV, too. And Brady out-dueled Patrick Mahomes in the process. And because of Brady all 22 starters are back with the Bucs this season to try to defend their championship and win it all again.
A quick look around the NFC South shows the Bucs leading with two Super Bowl titles in two tries. The Saints have one in their lone try. The Falcons and Panthers are each 0-2 in their quest for a world championship. The fact that Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl trophy last season is complete validation for parting ways with Winston.
We’ll see how Winston fares the rest of the season before anointing him the NFL MVP. Maybe Sean Payton has finally gotten the INTs out of Winston’s system. I personally like Winston and hope he lives up to his potential in the NFL. But the reality is that Winston came to the Bucs in 2015 knowing that he had to eliminate turnovers and stop forcing the ball into coverage.
He had five years – five years! – to stop throwing interceptions. That’s on him for trying to do too much and not taking care of the ball despite that being preached to him for five years under three different coaching staffs.
What happened to Winston in his fifth-year option season in Tampa Bay? He threw a career-high 30 interceptions and became the first NFL player to throw for 30 TDs and 30 INTs in the same season. Bruce Arians, the guy named “the Quarterback Whisperer,” didn’t think he could salvage Winston and sought an upgrade in Brady. I wholeheartedly trust Arians’ opinion on QBs. That was undoubtedly the right call last year.
Super Bowls are incredibly hard to win, and who knows what the future holds? The future is always uncertain. What is certain is that Brady helped the Bucs win a Super Bowl last year in Tampa Bay and Winston failed to help the Bucs even get to the playoffs.
QUESTION: Will we see more of Giovani Bernard moving forward?
ANSWER: According to head coach Bruce Arians, Giovani Bernard is the team’s third-down back and the two-minute back. Yet Leonard Fournette received four third down reps on Thursday night against Dallas. That was as many as Bernard received on third downs that were not in two-minute situations, according to Pro Football Focus’ Nathan Jahnke.
Buccaneers RB snap count by situation last night
1st/2nd down outside of 2 minute drills Leonard Fournette 38 Ronald Jones 6 Giovani Bernard 0
3rd down outside of 2 minute drills Leonard Fournette 4 Giovani Bernard 4
When asked how the running backs performed in the passing game, which is where Bernard has thrived in his career in Cincinnati, Arians had this to say: “Very average, and we dropped a screen pass for an interception. We don’t like to throw to backs if we don’t have to. They’re check-down people. We don’t bring backs in here to throw them 100 passes. We’ve got enough guys outside to throw 100 passes to.”
Bernard received 17 reps and caught two passes for 12 yards. He was targeted three times in the passing game. Meanwhile, Fournette played 42 snaps and he is clearly the preferred back on first and second downs. But it was interesting to see him play the same amount of snaps as Bernard on third downs in non-two-minute situations. We’ll continue to monitor the snap counts on third down for both Bernard and Fournette moving forward.
QUESTION: Will the Bucs pick up another cornerback with Sean Murphy-Bunting’s injury?
ANSWER: It really depends on how long Sean Murphy-Bunting will be out with his dislocated elbow. If it’s a couple of weeks and the Bucs want to keep him on the roster. Then the team won’t be adding another cornerback. However, if Tampa Bay places Murphy-Bunting on the short-term injured reserve list, then the team will have a vacant roster spot that could be filled by another cornerback. But it may not be a new cornerback.
Bucs CB Dee Delaney – Photo by: USA Today
The Bucs already have five cornerbacks on the roster. Murphy-Bunting, Carlton Davis III, Jamel Dean, Ross Cockrell and Dee Delaney, the preseason sensation. Cockrell will step in for Murphy-Bunting in the slot, while Dean will start outside for SMB in base defense opposite Davis. Cockrell gave up a touchdown to Amari Cooper on Thursday night when filling in for Murphy-Bunting, so he’ll have to play better moving forward.
Keep in mind that Tampa Bay has cornerback Herb Miller on the practice squad. This is Miller’s second season in Todd Bowles’ defense. So if the team were to add another cornerback to the 53-man roster it would be Miller. Not a cornerback off the street like Richard Sherman. Last year in limited playing time on defense, Miller recorded his first career interception against Detroit in Tampa Bay’s 47-7 victory. His familiarity with the scheme makes him valuable.
QUESTION: How does the Pewter Report staff cover the team without being fans at some level, including when they were losing? For example, were you a fan last year? What about 2014? Would seem to be a tough balance. And do you all have other pro teams you follow just for fun?
ANSWER: Fun question to answer. Are we fans of the Buccaneers? Well, Tampa area native Mark Cook naturally grew up a Bucs fan and couldn’t hide his affection for the team while working for Pewter Report for more than a decade. That’s part of what made Cook’s coverage for us special.
I grew up a Washington fan as a kid living in Virginia, and later became a Chiefs fan while growing up in Kansas City. Yet I don’t follow either team now, nor would I consider myself a fan of either team. I started following the Bucs while I was in college at K-State when I first subscribed to Buccaneer Magazine (the predecessor of Pewter Report) in 1993. When I began covering Tampa Bay two years later I had to adopt a professional, objective approach to reporting on the Bucs. As a result, it’s tough for me to consider myself a fan. I’m a reporter.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians and GM Jason Licht – Photo by: USA Today
At the same time, I know that I write for you – the die-hard Bucs fans. I want your team to do well and win so you can relish in the victories. I want the players, coaches and front office members that I cover to do well and win because I see how much hard work they put in year-round to do so. After covering 13 years of losing seasons in Tampa Bay I’m glad that the narrative has changed for the better. These Bucs are fun to cover.
I’m a football fan and I like watching really good football. I was definitely not a fan of Bucs football in 2014 (and several other years) for that reason. There was some seriously bad football in Tampa Bay for the better part of a decade. There’s a reason why I was the first to call for Lovie Smith’s firing in 2015. Bucs fans deserve better and I’m glad they’re getting it now.
To finish answering your question, I really love college football. I prefer it over the NFL because I don’t like the direction the league is going with its rule changes and the way the game is now officiated. I know Jon Ledyard, who hails from Pennsylvania, is a fan of the Steelers in addition to enjoying covering the Bucs for Pewter Report. Matt Matera is from New York and grew up a Jets fan. Needless to say he’s happy to be covering a winner in Tampa Bay. JC Allen is new to Tampa Bay from Boston, so naturally he grew up a Patriots fan. Safe to say he’s happy to covering Tom Brady with the Bucs now.
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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