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.
As you may have guessed, the majority of the questions revolved around Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston.
Below are the questions we chose for this week’s edition of the PR Bucs Monday Mailbag.
Question: How short is Jameis Winston’s leash now?
Answer: I don’t think it is any shorter on Monday morning than it was on Sunday morning. Jameis Winston had an awful game in Sunday’s 31-17 loss with three interceptions, including a pair of costly pick-sixes, and if this continues in 2019 Bruce Arians and the team will have to move on and look for a new quarterback to roll out in 2020. But Arians is experienced enough and also confident enough in his, and the staff’s ability, to right the ship.
Arians knew all about Winston’s turnovers before he took the job. He also knew Winston’s strengths. This isn’t a new issue. Arians didn’t come out of retirement if he felt he would be embarrassed and this year would be a complete disaster. Arians has already established a legacy as a head coach in the NFL with two Coach of the Year awards as evidence, and he doesn’t want to tarnish it. The bottom line is, if he didn’t think Winston was capable, he would have stayed at his lake house in Georgia and played endless rounds of golf at Lake Oconee.
However, it is getting harder to defend Winston’s play, especially in his fifth year. The Bucs can live with an interception from time to time as all quarterbacks throw them, but gifting an opponent 14 points is a loss nearly 100 percent of time a time. Winston is feeling the pressure of his contract year, whether he, or anyone else wants to admit it. So much is riding on this season – not just for the organization, but also Winston personally.
Getting back to your question, Winston at the minimum has until the bye week following Tampa Bay’s game against Carolina to turn things around. If this team is winless and Winston has shown no improvement, then I could see the team moving onto Blaine Gabbert or Ryan Griffin. The Bucs can’t beat themselves and that’s what happened on Sunday against the 49ers due to Winston’s three interceptions.
Question: This offense looked horrible, going back to the third preseason game and that was without Mike Evans. Are teams going just start to double him all game knowing we don’t have a pure deep threat or don’t respect Jameis Winston abilities?
Answer: If opponents are smart they will. If I am an opposing defensive coordinator that would be my game plan until Jameis Winston and the offense can show they can beat me in other ways. It was refreshing to see a semblance of a running game, and I wonder how long before Ronald Jones is named the starter over Peyton Barber. But other than some sporadic success running the football, nothing else really stood out offensively on Sunday.
Tight end O.J. Howard has a terrible game with a fumble and a pass bouncing off his hands and turning into an interception, while fellow tight end Cam Brate was non-existent other than the two touchdowns he had called back due to Demar Dotson penalties. And where was Breshad Perriman on Sunday?
While it is fair to beat up Winston for his poor decision-making on Sunday, I don’t think offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich should be let off the hook completely. We all know Winston is a streaky passer, who thrives off chaos at times, yet there was no no-huddle offense mixed in, very little imagination on first down and where was the play-action? I thought running the football is supposed to open that up. I will go back and re-watch the game today, but from my recollection, I don’t remember seeing a lot of play-action.
Question: How many more performances like that until Jason Licht and Jameis Winston are both finally let go?
Answer: At least 15. Jason Licht and Jameis Winston aren’t going anywhere this year. The Glazers have too much invested in both of them to just send them packing before the season is over. Once the season is over then the evaluation will begin.
But remember Licht just signed an extension this offseason, and like coaches’ contracts, it is most likely guaranteed. Not that the Glazers are afraid to pay someone to sit at home. They fired Jon Gruden and Bruce Allen in 2008 after signing three-year extensions. They also let head coaches Raheem Morris, Greg Schiano, Lovie Smith and Dirk Koetter all go with years left on their contracts.
But something Licht has going for him is his relationship with Bruce Arians. While I wouldn’t necessarily call it a package deal, most would agree Arians is here and Licht got his new deal based on their prior working relationship the two have.
Hypothetically if this team goes 3-13 and Licht is fired, would Arians even stick round? Would he want to have to endure a new G.M., a new quarterback and a complete rebuild? The 66-year old Arians didn’t come here on a five-year wanting to rebuild.
Question: What is your record prediction now?
Answer: My 10-6 prediction for the 2019 Bucs isn’t looking great. But I will stick with it. Why not?
Overreaction Monday is in full effect. And I get it. There was a lot of hype with this team, maybe not nationally, but Bucs fans and many in the media locally felt Tampa Bay would win on Sunday against San Francisco, and that this was going to be a rebound season. I still think it can be.
But let’s look back on last season. Did anyone expect the 2-0 start? And then after those two wins did anyone foresee the Bucs only winning three more games out of their last 14?
It wouldn’t surprise me to see this season be a lot like Tony Dungy’s first year with the Bucs in 1996 when the team began 1-7, but finished 6-10 with momentum. This is a brand new system on both sides of the ball, a new playbook to learn and several new players who are still getting to know each other. There will be growing pains. Sometimes even three-interception growing pains.
But it is a long season. And to give up after one game is as silly as believing last year’s 2-0 start was not a mirage in hindsight.