PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature this year, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered about the Bucs by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions and our message boards using the hashtag #PRMailbag.
Question: Where do the Bucs turn to receiving wise now?
Answer: When it rains it seems to pour for the Bucs on the injury front this season. All teams have injuries, but it seems when one player goes down, multiple players from the same unit get banged up as well for the Bucs. Just take the running backs for instance this season. And of course the season started off with Jacquies Smith going down in Week 1 that created a bad domino effect in on the defensive line.
Hopefully for the Buccaneers Adam Humphries injury won’t prevent him from playing this week against the Saints. While he hasn’t been a player that the Bucs focus on, make no mistake, his role on this offense is important, and he is one of the most dependable players on the 53-man roster. If by chance Humphries is unable to play, look for the Bucs to promote Josh Huff and/or Donteea Dye from the practice squad.
I really don’t foresee the Buccaneers bringing in a receiver off the street. It would be hard for a player to walk in cold, without prior knowledge of the offense, and be able to contribute this late in the season. It doesn’t mean Jason Licht didn’t start scouring the waiver wire as soon as he took his seat on the plane at the San Diego airport last night. Tuesday is a tryout day, and I am guessing the Bucs might have a few free agents in for a peek, but most likely Cecil Shorts replacement will come from the current roster or practice squad. And hey, how about a little love for Freddy Martino?
Question: Is practice squad wide receiver Josh Huff ready?
Answer: For the team’s sake, they hope so. Huff could be the guy who takes Shorts roster spot, although, as mentioned above, Dye could also be the one. And depending on Humphries health, perhaps both of them get called up. As far as being ready? Obviously that is a something only the coaching staff knows, although it was believed the team was considering adding him to the active roster a few weeks back, but he suffered a minor injury in practice which prevented the move. We haven’t seen much of Huff in practice, only because we are limited to viewing just the first 30 minutes of practice each day. So it isn’t like getting looks from training camp or the preseason.
Question: Is it just the four-game winning streak or is Dirk Koetter really getting dialed in as a playcaller? Especially in the 2nd half.
Answer: That is a great observation and one I have been thinking of recently as well. And to be honest, I don’t know the answer. Is it the play calling or is the execution? Or is it both. The thing with Koetter is, he has a ton of play calling experience, but defenses change, personnel changes and so on. So I would guess it takes a while to get your feet under you, especially when you go from being the play caller to the head coach. Before this season, he could sit in the booth and not even pay attention to what the defense was doing when his offense was on the sideline, but now as the head coach, he is involved in every aspect of the game. So I would say there was a bit of a learning curve, but one he has adapted to rather quickly. And there is no question the offense itself is more experienced so the execution is better as well.
Question: How long do Bucs stick with Roberto Aguayo at kicker?
Answer: I firmly believe, and someone in the organization might correct me, but if Aguayo was just a free agent guy they signed off the street he would have at the very least had some competition brought in. Missing 31-yard field goals is just unacceptable. But when you invest a second round pick in a kicker you almost have to ride out the season unless he is costing you games week after week. Without going back and looking at it, other than the Rams game maybe, I can’t say that Aguayo has actually cost the team a game. However, the best of the best are going to miss in crucial situations. Scott Norwood might be the biggest example of that. I don’t think the Bucs make any moves at this point. Aguayo will be around until the end of the season unless he just goes in full meltdown mode in my opinion.
Question: Does JW have the green light to change a play especially in the run game? Seems JW should recognize the 8-9 man fronts.
Answer: From what we understand Winston can and does check out of certain plays based on the defensive formations. That is one of the things I believe has impressed the organization as much as anything, and that is his football IQ which is off the charts. Now there may be situations where Koetter is adamant that they run the specific play, but for the most part Winston can switch things up when necessary. However, the defensive personnel and formations adjust to the offensive formations and at times it doesn’t matter what the look is, the Bucs may not have the personnel on the field to do much different than what the original play call was, if that makes sense. And you are also fighting the play clock and communication issues in loud environments. Sometimes you have to run the play even though it looks like the defense won that particular formation chess match.
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@example.com