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 1. Louis Carter wants to know, Winston to Evans could be special, if they aren’t already. But even they need some help. Why go into a season of building around a franchise QB and give him no WR help and rely on VJax who clearly was on his last legs?
Answer: I suppose the Bucs felt that Jackson still had some gas in the tank. Or felt comfortable with the other receivers on the roster. Of course it is easy to sit back and question things six weeks into the season, and in hindsight the front office most likely wishes that had a little more firepower at the receiver position, but you can’t have depth at every position in a salary cap league like the NFL. Or at least you can’t build it in one or even two off seasons. This team set franchise records for offense in 2015, so there was no reason to think they couldn’t come close to duplicating it this season again. Obviously the Bucs front office will look to add some speed next offseason, either through free agency or the draft, possibly both.
Question 2. Donkey Hunter asks, another game and ANOTHER missed field goal from Aguayo. While there’s little debate that this was one of the worst picks in franchise history, at what point do you bring in competition? He’s already cost us a game.
Answer: I wouldn’t hold my breath that the team brings in any competition unless Aguayo just goes in full meltdown mode. And while it isn’t looking good through six games, to say is one of the worst pics in franchise history is way too premature. There are legitimate concerns in the organization about Aguayo but the team isn’t panicking just yet. The bottom line is however, Aguayo needs to get it figured out and get it figured out soon. There will be more games this season that will be decided by a field goal.
Question 3. JerseyBucsFan wants to know, we’ve been down this road before where anticipation was met with letdown. The Bucs continue to do nice things in the running game but the consistency of the passing game is my concern. Russell Shepard is stepping up but was the Niner game an aberration and what happened to Cecil Shorts? Lastly is Shepard a threat to unseat Cecil as a starter?
Answer: I think he may have already unseated Shorts. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shepard start in the Bucs three-recevier formation against the Raiders next Sunday. Shorts was on the field for 31 plays on Sunday at San Francisco but failed to record a catch. That’s not just bad luck. Koetter obviously raved about Shepard on Sunday after the game, and again on Monday during his day-after press conference. Shepard was very raw coming out of college, as LSU hasn’t been known for exactly throwing the ball all over the field in the last few years. I am not sure Shepard ever develops more than a No. 3 type receiver, but his contributions on Sunday against the Niners were huge. Maybe the Bucs keep a rotational situation at receiver moving forward, going with the hot hand, and perhaps Shorts makes an impact next Sunday against Oakland, but regardless, Shepard has earned the right to see more action on offense.
Question 4. Alldaway 2.0, Return units look very weak. Does Koetter shake things up at punt and kick return spots?
Answer: Coach talked about his return game on Monday.
“And we have no problem with [cornerback] Ryan [Smith] – or Adam if he’s back there – but we have no problem with our return guys. Ryan, on the first one he brought out, I don’t think he fully committed to it. I think he hesitated a little bit and if you hesitate on that play, it’s not going to work out. And then after the penalty, when they ran that mortar kick with kicking off from the 50, I think Ryan just kind of lost track of where he was. It was close, ‘Am I in the end zone, not in the end zone?’ If you’re unsure, you’ve got to bring it out. And we didn’t block those as well as we can. That’s what thing when we do bring the ball out, we have to improve. We’ve been doing okay, but yesterday we took a little step back there.”
I do agree with Koetter, the blocking on the kick returns were awful. Maybe the kickoff return team was just used to a majority of kickoffs being touchbacks. But you can bet that unit will get an earful from the coaching staff when they are back in the building on Wednesday.
Question 5. Chetthevette asks, After chewing out some players on special teams what do you think should be Koetters main focus should be to beat the Raiders?
Answer: Don’t start getting too full of yourselves. At least that would be my message to the players. Don’t let two wins in a row skew your feelings on how hard you need to work during the week and on Sunday when Oakland comes to town. There might have been a little bit of a case of that following the Week 1 against the Falcons. I would also remind this team they are on the verge of perhaps turning a corner. Explain the magnitude of the next few weeks and what it could mean for the franchise moving forward, and also the community. This town wants to believe. They want to love this team again. It is within reach. Next would be to show them they are starting to create an identity on offense as a tough hard-nosed running team, and an opportunistic, fundamentally sound unit on defense. Just keep doing what they have been doing the last two weeks. Play fast, hard and smart, and let the chips fall where they may when the final whistle sounds each week.
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
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