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.

Question: There is always debates over Jameis Winston’s INTs. Some say picks come from poor route running, others say it’s his decision-making. I think it’s a little bit of both. My question is do you think Bruce Arians and the coaching staff really know what the problem is and just aren’t saying?

Answer: I am guessing Bruce Arians and the coaches are just as perplexed as everyone else is with the high amount of turnovers from Jameis Winston, but they watch the film and the film doesn’t lie – whether it was a poorly run route or a bad decision. Winston is always going to throw more interceptions than most quarterbacks with his daring playing style and playing in Arians’ vertical passing game. I just don’t see how that changes, especially in this offense that requires a lot of difficult downfield throws, and a lot of times throws in tight windows. As far as your suggested reasons, I do believe it is a little of both.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Bruce Arians
Bucs QB Jameis Winston and head coach Bruce Arians – Photo by: Getty Images

The question now is, can Arians and his staff help to reduce that number and to what? Then can the Bucs live with the number, whatever it may be – say it’s 18 INTs – and still win consistently?

If we take the Giants and Falcons games, those should have been wins if Matt Gay makes his kicks. Then Tampa Bay has nine wins. Take the Seattle game where Winston played nearly flawless football, but the defense was awful, and now there are 10 wins. Throw in the Tennessee game where the defense wasn’t great and lost a fourth quarter lead, and the officials missed a big call and now the Bucs are sitting at 11 wins. Eleven wins is enough to get them into the playoffs. However, how far Tampa Bay could go even if it gets in the postseason tournament with a quarterback prone to turnovers is another debate. Chances are the team isn’t going too far.

In the four playoff games this past weekend, the four winning quarterbacks threw a total of one interception. That really answers your question. NFL teams can possibly get into the NFL playoffs throwing some interceptions, but aren’t winning many playoff games turning the ball over.

Arians and his staff will analyze Winston’s entire season, and every single pass he threw and see if they can identify some things that Winston can do to correct those issues. That will be a big part of his evaluation and will go into their decision on Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.

Question: With the lack of utilization of our tight ends, wouldn’t it be prudent for us to shop both O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate on or before draft day? Especially, if it could net us an extra second- and third-rounder?

Answer: Had you submitted this question this time last year, I would have said you were crazy for even suggesting it. Why wouldn’t an offensive-minded coach and staff not want two productive and talented tight ends on the roster – especially a former No. 1 pick in O.J. Howard that looked like he had plenty of untapped potential? But tight ends aren’t a focal point in this offensive system, and with two 1,000-yard Pro Bowl receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The tight ends that tend to be Pro Bowlers are often on teams that don’t have great receivers, especially two like the Bucs’ duo.

Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images

With that said, if we combine their numbers – Cameron Brate had 36 catches for 311 yards with five TDs, and Howard had 34 receptions for 459 yards with one score – the combination of those stats is pretty solid. But does Tampa Bay need two receiving tight ends on the roster in an offense that looks to the wide receivers first on nearly every passing play in the playbook?

I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Buccaneers look to deal one of the two this offseason. There would most likely be a higher value in Howard due to his age and athleticism. Brate’s cap hit in 2020 is set to be $6 million, while Howard’s is around $4 million, which makes Howard more attractive to keep due to the lesser cap number. And with Howard being a better blocker it would make more sense to deal Brate if the Bucs look to do that.

Another option of course is to keep both, although Brate might need to re-do his deal to save some cap space, particularly with the the number of unrestricted free agents the team wants to re-sign this offseason. Another note on Brate – $4 million of his salary is guaranteed if he is still on the roster by March 22, so if the team does look to move on from Brate it most likely would happen prior to the deadline and well before the NFL Draft in April.

Question: Do you think our RBs are just not good zone scheme backs? 

Answer: No, I don’t think either Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones II are particularly great zone scheme backs, but I also don’t think the offensive line is built for a lot of success zone blocking either. Those Denver Broncos teams of the 1990s that were zone blocking masters had lighter and more athletic offensive linemen. Teams also need very cerebral linemen in a zone blocking scheme as well.

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II
Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

I’m not trying to compare myself to an NFL coach, but I will say from my high school coaching days, teaching zone blocking was much more difficult than a power-man scheme. The kids I was teaching understood me saying to the backside guard to pull around the center and look for the middle linebacker, and the play-side guard and tackle to double team the defensive tackle.

That isn’t to say the Bucs’ current group aren’t intelligent enough to do it, but it is simpler for everyone involved to know which man to put a hat on. In zone blocking it is more of a full five-man unit working in unison to be successful. Linemen also have to adapt on the run and trust the guy on either side of him. I’m not a huge fan of zone blocking schemes, and I don’t think Tampa Bay has the right personnel – linemen or backs – to run it successfully enough for it to be a staple in this offense.

Question: Fans keep talking about uniform changes are coming yet I don’t see any articles about it. Any information that you might have on this?

Answer: There has been no official word on any uniform changes coming, but like you, I have heard the rumors, and would like to see some thing changed with the current ones the Bucs are wearing. The Tampa Bay Times has been running a series featuring fan-proposed uniform changes, but that’s just for fun.

Last March in Arizona for the NFL meetings, I had a sit down interview with Bucs co-chariman/owner Joel Glazer and asked him specifically about new uniforms and even throwback uniforms. Glazer was somewhat evasive, but didn’t rule out changes coming in the near future. You can read Glazer’s responses and the full story here. 

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, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. 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]

36 COMMENTS

  1. The more I think about Winston the more I think we are all just panicking. As Mark Cook pointed out a couple of days ago Winston has hovered around the mid teens every single year except for 2019 when the ints went through the roof.
    So what happened.
    First, his attempts per game stayed about 34 for the first four years. 39 in 2019.
    The sacks went through the roof. 47 in 2019 with a high of 35 and an average of 30 for the previous four seasons.
    His interception percentage jumped from a previous high of 3.7 % to 4.7 %. Most years it was about 2.5%.
    Some thoughts.
    One, he’s throwing more ints, because he’s throwing more.
    Two, the sack numbers suggest his o-line isn’t there for him and that he might be forced to make hasty decisions. In the last pick six of the season I noticed the defense was about to clobber him and he barely got the ball off in time.
    Three, his TD numbers and passing yards have sky rocketed. So, clearly Arians and BL are tinkering with Winston and getting results. Some of the ints may just be due to learning a new system.
    I think he’ll be just fine next year especially if we get a better o-line.
    I looked up Brady’s career stats last night. His interception percentage for most of his career stayed about 1%. BUT in the first five years he had 2-3% which isn’t that far off from Winston (except for 2019)
    There is hope y’all.

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    • Very true Pros for him. Here’s the Cons or arguments to your Opinion
      Most Int in NFL on the year
      2015 R 16gp 16gs T-6th
      2016 2nd 16gp 16gs 3rd
      2017 3rd 13gp 13gs 16th
      *2018 4th 11gp 9gs T-5th
      2019 5th 16gp 16gs 1st
      60.7% cmp%(2nd lowest lowest of his career)
      Career PassInt % 3.5% (29th among active Qbs)
      Career Cmp % 61% (22nd among active Qbs)
      Drop% 2019 3.8% *2018. 4.8%
      Bad% 2019 20.6% *2018 16.1%
      (Percentage of poor throws
      per pass attempt,
      excluding spike and throwaways)
      2.5sec from ball snapped to throw or pressure collapses the poccet( up 0.5sec from 2018 2019 bltz 241x, *2018 bltz 84x)

      Excluding his first two seasons. His third looked very promising
      13gp 13gs 63.8%cp 3504yrd 19tds 11int
      92.2 PR. ( best in career)
      Last two with the suspension and new coach down hill in a major way.
      He was blitzed more this year but the line held up the best this year. Every 5th pass is going to be a poor throw. Drop percentage is way down and shows that majority of his Ints are his fault. Just because his Int total is usually in the teans doesn’t mean it good. Only one time was he outside of the top 10 in int thrown. He’s been top 6 or most. He’s still losing if the rest of the league is doing better. This isnt the 90s 2000s. New rules for the QB and Receivers allow for bigger and easier passing windows. This isnt when Brett Favre was throwing the ball. Handy Cb or Ss or LBs going full speed no pulling up blowing up the receiver. Everyone remembers K. Johnson(19) getting rocced by Detriot and coming up with a bloody nose. He’s done had situation when he’s had good time. He’s done some great stuff and also has done wtf stuff.
      But it’s not just the Int. It’s the fumbles. And low key a point that’s been overlooked is the fumbles that are recovered the offense that knoccs the team out of the red zone and have to settle for a field goal att. Or knoccs them out of field goal range and have to punt. Or put them into long yrds in downs.

      No panic.
      Pushing the panic button was what half of our peers were doing the whole season.
      Calling for Bryan Leftwich and Todd Bowles pink slips. Yelling Vita Vea a bust. Calling JPP all them names after the crash and coming bacc to play. Wanting to release Breshard earlier this season.
      Mr. Winston is who he is.
      Would be very happy for him if he can translate his good talent to the field but at the end of the day it’s about championships. Good will get Rivers, Ryan, McNabb, T. Green and ect

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  2. Yes this team Very easily could have or should have had 11 wins. Winston wasn’t the reason they didn’t. The bulk of int’s first half season seemed more route running to me. Second half Jameis seemed to get worse as far as the decision making. I say seemed because it’s hard to gage.

    I see Winston wearing glasses and wonder does he have contacts in the game. Sometimes he just seems to have poor vision lol. I don’t say that being smart ass I mean he really doesn’t see things at times for some reason and it’s typically fairly easy to see stuff underneath and intermediate not way dow field….just an observation.

    I think Bucs would be wise to let one TE’s go if the move helps them a lot with cap or getting another O linemen etc.

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    • I’ve too wondered about his vision. I’ve noticed him squinting on occasion.

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    • They say he’s near sighted like it’s inferring that he has no problem seeing things that are short distances. But what is a short distance….10-50ft? That’s only a little over 3yd to less than 17yds. Even a 5yd out route requires the ball to travel more than that. If he can’t see past that clearly, then he probably can’t see the defenders lying in wait. Defenders are like sharks lurking beneath the murky water ready to ambush their prey at the surface. When does put the ball into tight windows, is it from seeing the receiver and defenders then making a great throw by anticipation or is it just a perfect timing route?

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  3. Mark, what round pick could the Bucs get for Howard?

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    • A thumbs down for a question? Really?

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      • LOL, don’t even look for logic to some of your questions. Made a comment about a person one time and was chided (4 comments) about lack of support for the bucs which wasn’t even part of the equation. As an fyi, a couple of times this question has come up, the “experts” have always mentioned a mid-to-low round 2 or even a mid-to-low down 3. If you are trading a former number one, especially one that you are in essence giving up on, than may even be high. Which begs the question, why would you trade a 2 year player like OJ who has been injured both years and keep Brate who makes more. It will certainly be interesting, especially since New England (if they keep Bellecheat and Brady) as it was very obvious they missed their TE this year dramatically and were supposedly interested in Brate or OJ at the deadline – “rumor again” was they offered a low round 3.

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      • Hunh? Someone is clicking negative just for the helluvit I guess.

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      • I think the thumbs down was for considering trading OJ at any value, but I agree with you – what is that guy worth? We know he’s not worth much in this offense.

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        • Just to be clear, I want to keep Howard.

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    • I would think at least a third. NE would be prime candidate.

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  4. Bucs do not give up on OJ!

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  5. I would like to bring up the New Orleans loss since they won the south. The way Minnesota won seems obvious to me.

    They didn’t win by running trick plays. It wasn’t from having a first ballot hall of fame QB. It wasn’t from having the best defense(although they played very disciplined). They ran the ball and they did it with a pedestrian offensive line.

    Minnesota ran the ball 40 times for 136 yards(3.4yds/carry). They passed it 31 times, giving up only 2 sacks. They have $67 million invested in primary passing attack between Cousins($31m), Diggs($14.5m), Thielen($12.8m), and Rudolph($8.8m). They have less than $25m invested in the OL. Dalvin Cook is still on his rookie deal and has a cap value of $2.5 million this season.

    The Bucs will have very similar contract values if they keep Winston(they will) and extend Godwin(they should). The solution to dethroning New Orleans will not be found in passing the ball more often with ANY QB, including Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Phil Rivers, Dak Prescott, etc. The solution is balance. Less INT’s, sacks, fumbles, and risk when there is balance. Point blank.

    The Bucs need a guy at RB to move the chains and create those 1-on-1 matchups on the outside. When the card is turned on on day 1 or 2 of the NFL draft, it needs to have the name of a great running back on it.

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    • The key to that is a more solid Oline, then RB. I wouldn’t mind at all seeing a RB brought in through the Draft but there needs to be Oline around those picks.

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      • I’m not so sure you’re right. Pro Football Focus rated the Minnesota offensive line 25th this year.

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    • This is an important point. By the way, the Bucs passed on both Cook and Kamara when this was a position of need (and it still is).

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  6. Here’s a link to Jameis’ 30 interceptions:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhfpQcL1ETc
    A few things stick out to me; Staring down the receivers, desperation throws as protection breaks down and touch passes that are in the air too long. I’m assuming that these can all be worked on.

    Interesting watching the wild cards this weekend… Everyone was saying that Cousins couldn’t win a big game. He proved them wrong. It looked like Tannehill’s career after the Fish dumped him. Now, he’s probably in line for a huge contract. Two QBs in the middle of their careers turning a corner.

    As for the uniform changes; yes! Simplify and make them more iconic a la Green Bay, Dallas, Chicago, etc. Quit with the mish mash Disney meets Texas Instruments look. The Bucs would be wise to hire a design firm and not a shoe company to design the unis.

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    • Thought Winston was “working on” all those reasons for his picks since his senior year in college … yet now he’s got five years in the league and leads the entire league in INTs.

      The reason for Winston’s INTs is Winston, silly!

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    • That was horrifying to watch. In under 6 minutes you watch as many games are thrown away, Winston’s fault or not (some are clearly not his fault – like the one at 2:44 where the receiver miscatches the ball, tries to catch it behind the back, the ball is popped out (he never really had control) and the interception occurs. Really a fumble and incompetent catch but who is counting?

      One comment on YouTube is particularly hard hitting. “He has the strongest and one of the most accurate arms in the league. He’s also dumber then dirt with the football.” Written by a guy named on YouTube Tom Brady.

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    • Uhhhhh….. Pretty sure Tannehill had nothing to do with that win, he just didn’t lose it. How were his stats looking at the final whistle? Eight completions for 77 yards. Offensively, that was all Henry

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  7. OLine BIG time in this draft! Akers in round 3 or 4! No design firm needed for new uniforms!! Go with Super Bowl Winning uniforms along with the Current Helmet!!

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  8. Problem is the only Dallas uniforms that look good are the White Helmets and zblue Jersey White pants. Chicago and Green Bay uniforms look terrible. But on that note, the more simple look definitely looks better. When the Bulls wear their All Black Uniforms with Black Helmets or White Helmet and Dark Green or Black uniforms it looks great.

    I’d get rid of the Flag and just do a Skull and Sword Cross Bones or something with a solid color Helmet and solid color Uniforms. An All Pewter look or Pewter Uniform with White Helmet would look nice with White or Red numbers. Pewter and White would be the better colors to lean on, in my opinion of course.

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  9. Dont really need either TE. Good combined stats but it makes the offense very transparent and predictable. Whoever’s lined up determined what type of play it is. Even if swapped thinking to catch them off guard. LBs or S will still play run on Howard knowing that’s he’s not a good route runner or has the best hands and will sit on his hip or sit on his route after. Same with Brate. Play pass if its run because his own physical limitations(not overly fast,strong, or long) will allow to compensate to make a play in his run fits. If they want personal like that, there’s quite a few situational bloccing or pass catching TEs that can be employed for half of their price. Plus I want to see A.A. Think he can be better than both.

    Marpet and Cappa can work perfectly in zone-bloccing with more reps and experience. Jenson is better as a mauler moving forward, getting a hats on hats and let him be nasty instead of having him go laterally. Dotson isn’t good at either. He should be a bacc up and mentor his successor. His tank is just empty. Smith is Mr. Minimum. Dont have him pull. Shuffle. Lead. Or anything. Designate him a man, have him engage, wall or stall his man and hold your ground till the whistle without any holding, illegal hands or an other penalties.

    Only winners get new jerseys.

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  10. RE: uniforms, I think most of the fanbase can agree that we should switch to white-shelled helmets so we can wear throwbacks again. I’m not sure that we need a wholesale jersey re-design, but the digital clock numbers definitely need to go and the color scheme should be tweaked so that it works with white helmets.

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  11. It is a crying shame that we have two potentially pro bowl TEs and we don’t know how to or want to use them. Unfortunately, we are usually on the losing end of trades.
    I doubt our management is capable of getting anything higher than a 4th rounder for either of them. And what a waste that would be. They would end up being pro bowlers on the NE pats or Atlanta Falcons or Saints and then we would see them twice a year.

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  12. I’ll keep this simple.
    Sometimes you can’t see the forest because of the tree in front of us;
    Winston is the tree.

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  13. Pete-That ATL pick6 pass was not only under duress the ball was clearly tipped. It would have come out with more velocity and to the sideline.

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  14. Don’t forget Jameis only had seven interceptions away from home when our team wore white jerseys. He had all the rest of the interceptions at home throwing at our red jerseys. Simple play in the white jerseys every game. And playing in all red jerseys look like playing in their pajamas! Foolish! Jameis could do much better with laser correction on his eyes to 20-20 too. We need a new LT and an OG (or move D. Smith to compete at RG) and move Cappa to RT and hire Dotson as his backup and mentor. Get a RB like Cook (who they should have taken years ago) and we can beat the Saints with a balanced attack too. Franchise Jameis.

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    • Donovan smith had a great year. Why the hate? Marpet and Ali on the left side looks great to me. Coaches too.

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  15. Keep the helmets and the pants. Fix the alarm clock jerseys. Introduce an orange jersey alternate and an all pewter color rush uni. Simple

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    • I’m getting moderated now? WTF

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      • Everybody goes through moderation at one point or another. Seems to happen in clusters, like there was a systems update and it put some of the settings back to default. As far as the orange jerseys go, they could easily create the alternates. Same helmet(obviously… NFL rules and all), pewter pants, burn the orange a little bit, swap the orange and red on the current jersey. I’m thinking those would be dope as hell

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  16. The Bucs need to let Winston’s contract expire. We can do far better in free agency (Teddy Bridgewater) or in the draft, for a helluva lot less money than we’ll have to pay Winston on a new contract or by franchizing him – money best used to bolster the rest of the team.

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    • You really believe Bridgewater is gonna hit the market? If so, you might be delusional

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  17. I wonder what Bruce Arian’s thoughts are now?

    I dug this up on “Behind The Bucs” Back in February 2019. Interesting story about Bruce Arians and his background and the charities he and his family support. Usual fluff piece for a new coach. However one paragraph he said stuck out to me and I thought, “After his first season, what does he think now?”

    “Yeah, but you have to have a quarterback and you have to have a defense. We have those. We’re just going to make the defense even better. I think we’re fine offensively. We’ll score points. I want to stress this year a lot on defense and special teams. Special teams is really where I think we’re lacking, big bodies that can run – 4-3 teams have always had that problem. When you have four linebackers on the field at a time, you have more of them on your team, so you’re a faster team.”

    It seems like he does have most of what he stated. He has a much improved defense with a four rookies, an impact free agent, and about half of the original players. The quarterback did score a lot of points – but he also threw a lot of pick 6s, interceptions, and fumbled a lot. 39 times in all. Does he still believe he has his quarterback?

    This offseason is going to tell us a lot. Winston got picked off by linebackers all season long (that was the defensive position he had the most trouble with, not cornerbacks). What Arians and his staff does to either correct the problem or move in another direction is going to dictate how they do next year. They seem to have most of what they need – they need a few for the offensive line and an eventual replacement for Suh and JPP as they are not getting younger but after that they can live with what they have if the turnovers stop.

    Article is here:
    https://www.buccaneers.com/news/behind-the-buccaneers-bruce-arians

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