The PR Bucs Monday Mailbag is where PewterReport.com’s Mark Cook answers your questions from our Twitter account. You can submit your question each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag. Read them over and offer up your thoughts in the comment section.
Question: What does Jameis Winston have to do to secure a new contract with the Bucs?
Answer: Two things, mainly: avoid another negative headline and play well. Pretty simple answer, but those are the facts. While I think Winston is on pace to develop into the franchise quarterback that the team expected after drafting him in 2015, he still has some flaws. Mostly the turnover issues.
All quarterbacks are going to make poor decisions, at times, especially those with a gunslinger mentality like Winston, but those drive killers have to be limited. We don’t know exactly how this defense will gel and play this year, especially early on, but even if the defense turns into a Top 10 unit, Winston can’t put his team behind the eight ball as he did in his final season at Florida State. The Saints are not Louisville, the Eagles aren’t Miami and the Steelers aren’t the Gators. Letting an opponent get up by double-digit points is sure way to lose a lot of football games in the NFL.
If Winton can correct the turnover problem and also avoid any transgressions that put the organization in a negative light, Winston will be the first drafted quarterback to earn that second contract.
Question: What areas of Kwon Alexander’s game does he need to improve to get some freaking recognition?
Answer: I think Alexander took some positive steps in 2017. First and foremost was his dedication to watching film. As the middle linebacker, he is essentially the quarterback of the defense and players like Hardy Nickerson and Ronde Barber will tell you you just can never watch too much film. I also liked him asserting himself in even more of a leadership role, something that I think will continue to grow. But, in order to be respected, and to have an impact as a leader, a player must elevate his play and do his job. If Warren Sapp had only averaged say three sacks a year, would he have been a leader? Or if Derrick Brooks never notched 100 tackles in a season, would players have followed his lead?
I don’t have any doubts at all that Alexander can be one of the top linebackers in all of the NFL. The talent a determination is there. But one of the best ways for Alexander and even Lavonte David to get the recognition they deserve is to help this team win football games. The fact is, I can’t name many defensive starters for the Cleveland Browns or even a team like the Bears. But I can almost name everyone on the Patriots defense. See my point. Win and the personal accolades will come.
Question: What are the expectations for Vernon Hargreaves and other the young defensive backs?
Answer: I think the play of Hargreaves and guys like Carlton Davis, Ryan Smith and M.J. Stewart will go a long way in determining the success of the Bucs in 2018. In fact, it may be the single biggest determining factor. There just aren’t a ton of question marks on this roster, at least on paper, but the cornerback play must be better this year. You can be studs against the run, have a Top 10 offense, but if you can’t cover in this league, especially in the NFC South, the quarterbacks will eat you up.
I will say that off the record the organization is cautiously optimistic that Hargreaves will put it all together this year. I think they believe he has the makings of a solid nickel corner, maybe even one of the better ones in the NFC. With rookies it is a little different because you just can’t make any sense of how they will play once the games start to count. Especially when they face adversity. And there will be some bumps along the road. But early indications are that both Davis and Stewart are very mentally tough — something you have to be in order to succeed.
Question: How has Justin Evans looked in camp? I really think he can be a stud.
Answer: Evans looked fine. His confidence has never really been a big issue, but as mentioned above with other young DBs, forgetting about the bad plays and moving forward is something he needs to continue to improve on. We all were concerned with his tackling coming out of Texas A&M as a rookie, but that never really surfaced as an issue in his first year. Having a year under his belt is huge and if you ask him today how much more comfortable he is starting camp this year versus last, he would say it is night and day. I really think he takes a big step forward this year, and besides having the comfort of another year in the system, the team appears to have improved the players in front of him. That should allow him to maybe even take a few more chances and have a better year, stat wise, in 2018.
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 [email protected]
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