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: All the talk is about Doug Martin. What is your take? Can he regain Pro Bowl form, will he be back in 2017?
Answer: Well with his salary guaranteed for 2017, my first inclination would be he will be back. Of course Jason Licht hasn’t been afraid to cut players and still pay them while they sit at home, or move on to other teams with the Bucs still owning them money (Anthony Collins, Michael Johnson).
However, with that said, I do not at this point think the Buccaneers are anywhere near done with Martin. For whatever reason, and it has been debated numerous times over the last two week, Martin hasn’t looked like the same back that finished 2015 as the league’s second leading rusher. And while he has been in the league for five seasons, he has only played two complete 16 game seasons. So I personally don’t believe his struggles are because he is washed up, or has lost a step.
We asked Dirk Koetter on Monday about Martin’s future this upcoming game against the Panthers and even moving forward into the future, but he was fairly evasive, not wanting to tip his hand to the Panthers. It will definitely be an interesting situation to watch as we head into the offseason. The NFL is crazy though. Martin could get the start Sunday against the Panthers and run for 190 yards and three touchdowns and everyone would forget there was even a controversy in 2016, or he could be a healthy scratch again, and the buzz and debate increases until training camp when we get our next look at him. All I can say for sure is, stay tuned.
Question: Where will the Bucs likely to be slotted in the draft? Who are the most likely targets?
Answer: With a middle of the pack record (8-8 or 9-7) they will have a middle of the pack draft selection spot. As of now it could be anywhere from around the No. 11 pick or maybe as high as in the low-20’s. Obviously the final spot will be determined next weekend when all of the games become finals and then the strength of schedule factors are weighed in as well.
As far as targets, it is impossible to say at this point, but if you poll most Bucs fans, they would want additional offensive weapons for Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter. And I am guessing Koetter will be making that case to GM Jason Licht. And really offensively, there isn’t a position other than quarterback that would be off the table when the draft comes around in April.
It became apparent when the Bucs lost Cameron Brate in the second half on Saturday that tight end is a need. When they lost Vincent Jackson, receiver is a need. When Jacquizz Rodgers, Charles Sims and Martin went down, all of a sudden it was clear they could use depth at running back. Same with most all the positions on the offensive line.
I would say it will be best player available but if it is close as far as the rating goes, the team will look to add an offensive player.
Question/comment: No excuses, but I think JW is trying to give his players a chance and for the most part it hasn’t materialized.
Answer: This is a difficult question to comment on, as my known affection for FSU apparently makes me biased, according to some. But as I type this in the media room right now, there is conversation among three other writers, who aren’t FSU fans, about Winston and how the play off the offensive line, along with the lack of a running game handicapped Winston to the point where he was forced to do too much all season. Basically saying Winston got little help this season. And I agreed with them.
Of course Winston made plenty of errors on his own, but there are pieces missing that the Bucs front office needs to fill to really get a true assessment of how good Winston can actually can be. The one thing I am certain of is, Winston will work hard to do everything he can to get better. That’s in his DNA.
Question: Did the play of B.Myers on Sunday fault the TE position into one of need for the Buccaneers?
Answer: Dirk Koetter said it on Monday – players are backups for a reason. They aren’t as good as the players in front of them. And that was the case on Saturday night after the Brate injury, or the Demar Dotson injury and so on. As much as I like Brandon Myers, he isn’t Cameron Brate, and it was obvious in the red zone against the Saints that Myers and Winston do not have the same chemistry. But as Dirk also pointed out injuries happen and you have to adapt.
But yes, I think tight end is absolutely on the wish list for the Bucs this offseason, either via free agency or the draft possibly both.
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@example.com
I don’t see Martin going anywhere, and with an improved and healthy OL next season he should be okay; not necessarily the started though. I believe Gottschalk will compete for the Center starting job and I believe the Bucs will draft another OL in the 3rd round. The 1st and 2nd rounds belong to a WR or CB. Winston and Martin have suffered because of our oppenents being able to penetrate up the middle and the right tackle side since Dotson went down. I would expect some players to go on IR and forget this slight chance of a playoff scenario. I am happy if we win this next game; wouldn’t bother me if go 8-8 because of the chances for higher round positions in the draft. Go Bucs!
Horse, you usually make a lot of sense. My parents used to call it “horse” sense. But we don’t need a CB as a priority.Corner back? Corner back? Did you say corner back?! We need WR, OL, S, DL, TE. One each from FA and Draft.
76Buc, not neccessarily for some of these positions we may not have to reach so high. We do need to find a replacement for Grimes and that needs to start now; just like we picked Hargreaves who was first going to play the Nickel his first year, but he picked up the position faster than what we expected. This draft doesn’t look good in the first round for our needs except for WR.
Yes, I like the WR out of Washington. The draft this year is all defense. Very light with offensive talent. We need to grab him if and when we can. Then maybe go BPA and if that is a CB then so be it.
Gotta disagree w/ you on this one, Horse- losing at home to CAR and finishing the season w/a 3 game losing streak? NoWay!
Gimme the 19th pick instead of 12th and a win to close out the season with a winning record!
Losing the last three games of the year would be a huge downer. Losing four in a row cost Lovie Smith his job.
Beating CAR at home is a must win game for the Bucks. Having a winning season record for the first time since 2010 would be HUGE.
Cost John Gruden his job too. Greg Schiano?
Hey I’m happy with the win, but if we lose we also get a much higher pick. Someone could fall out of the Top 10 for us like Davin Cook who is the best RB coming out this year.
And I also think that if the Coach was talking about changing the Culture of the franchise earlier in the season, a win to finish up would be needed
As much as the league has changed over the years, it’s also stayed the same. Apart from QB, the games are still won and lost in the trenches. Bottom line is, our trench guys are largely not good enough. On defense we definitely aren’t good enough to run a 4-man Rush scheme (few teams are). On offense, our line is bottom decile in pass protection and average in run blocking (we can’t play the 49ers every week).
I think we are good enough in the defensive trench if we up our scheme tactics (look at what Marrinelli has done in Dallas with their mediocre bunch). So, I would focus the next offseason heavily on OLine … Adding a WR or TE or RB would be nice but offensive production will develop through the line….IMO. The goal should be an OLine like Dallas’s…then imagine what Winston could do even if he’s passing to just Evans, Brate and Humphries.
I agree EEB. Conventional wisdom states that you build a team on offense and defense from front to back and inside out. We look pretty good on the inside at both OL and DL (although we may need a bigger center). So OT, DE, but WR is the most urgent need right now.
I agree, game is won in the trenches and in order to run the cover 2 defense you must have pressure up the middle. Therefore DT is on my wish list along with O-line. Also since Jameis clearly does like to throw to TE’s I think that has to be considered.
Cover 2 is no longer our base defense.
From what I have heard the announcers say for the second half of the year, we are only rushing our front 4. If so, then they are running at least a version of the cover 2 defense
I’m not as diligent as some other posters are but if there really aren’t any top flight OL in this year’s draft worthy of 1st or 2nd round picks it makes Licht picking Aguyo last yr unforgivable.
That move, Smith’s underperformance and the Sweezy fiasco haunted us this year and will again next if we can’t get at least one quality 8-10 yr starters in this year’s draft (and we really, really need two).
It appears Licht made the classic mistake of new regimes chasing splash making ‘skill’ positions instead of building us to win for the long term. If posters are right and we can’t get the material to fix the line until 2018 or (egad) 2019 since unless Smith can play RT we’ll need to make 3-4 starting caliber additions to the line by then, he’ll have screwed up the most important part of his job – protect the franchise QB.
Those gaffes may have cost us the playoffs this yr and will continue to undermine our progress until addressed. Extremely frustrating.
I think it will be important for Licht to fix some of his misses in FA this year…not a great FA crop, and he’s pretty allergic to chasing the best players, but there are a few guys that should get mid-tier money that would upgrade over what he’s put in place. Let’s see what he does….
First, the last couple of weeks Winston has been off even when he’s not been pressured. I’m a fan of his, but his play has not been up to par. Most notably, he has a tendency to overthrow.
Second, it seems to me that receiver is our most glaring need. After Jackson went down, the talent level dropped significantly. Tight end is a close second. I do have a diffent take on running back…I would say that Martin, Simms, and Rodgers shows that we have significant depth at running back. Indeed, I would ask if you think that Rodgers’ presence might make Sims expendable and we might trade him for help at other positions like the offensive line or safety
Big reason we lost the last two weeks was because Dallas, and N.O., were able to run right up our gut, so if you think we’re good in the trenches, what have you been watching? Our front four has been man handled the last two weeks. N.O. needs a first down to win, bamm, 7 yards up the middle. Take the best D tackle, we need one. Second and one, Rogers up the middle, not! Third and one, did any of you think we’d get it? Up the middle, not! So we’re not so sound in the middle of our O line either, that’s not taking into consideration the swinging doors at tackle. Running back, we have four, one who was benched, but will make 7 mill next year. When you have four, you have none, no Bells, or Elliotts in our group. The sad truth is, what ever position we use our first pick on, it will be an up grade over what we have. I would protect my Q.B. first, and shore up the middle of my defense as top priorities in the draft, and free agency.
I think you are correct surf. We might as well just take best player available cause we are weak at a lot of positions. Maybe trade back into second round and garner more pics. Also, would like to see Buc’s go into free agency to pick up help on defense. Would like to see us go 9-7. Just a more positive vibe going into next season.
revfish, As long as Winston is in the middle for QB talent I’m fine with him. He needs more tools. I doubt Sims is worth more than a 5th rounder for other teams, at best.
Protection of and weapons for Jameis are essential. You are absolutely correct Surfer that when you have four RB’s and no true star, who a defense fears, you have none. Teams are well aware that our running game has been no threat, thus they focus on pressuring Jameis (often causing him to take unnecessary chances) and taking away Mike Evans as best they can.
I think the weakness of the offensive line has been magnified a bit because of the ineffective running back play and the inability of receivers to get open quickly enough. Even Evans is often well covered when Jameis takes a chance on his ability to make a play.
The key here is the health of J.R. Sweezy. Is he going to be available or not?
I’d like to see light working some trade magic this offseason. We need as many picks as well can get. Move Doug if you can and get something for him.
Offensive lineman in this class is unfortunately weak. I’d take a wr first and I see a lot of pundits have is taking Coleman from western Michigan. I like the kids size and speed as wel as production.
A rb will be needed and cook won’t be there. Beninoch could be our center as horse said. Love Hawleys scrappy attitude but that guy is tiny. I’ve seen so many plays where the center is jacked up into jameis. Nothing worse that pressure up the middle. We have many needs. I don’t think de is one as we will be getting some productive guys back from injury. D tackle will be a need if anything. Dare they trade McCoy? I know he’s good so don’t jump on me here but here me out. McCoy is about to be 30 and he could easily fetch you a high first round pick. I know I’ll catch heat for the thought of it. And for the record , can the team stop letting McCoy do pre game speeches? I’m tired of hearing how much fun they should be having. We’re not here for fun, we’re gear to win!
We’ve made positive strides and next off season should be fun.
I really have to start proof reading my stuff. Haha auto spell gets me every time.
Same for me, but I get lazy at times and really everyone knows what we mean.
It starts up front someone to help GMC and oline tackle & Center I do like the WR from W. MICHIGAN OR FA WR NOT Sure who. I wish we had 2 picks in first rd. Like Titan,s
Cutting Doug doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint. Also, he may be still recovering from his hamstring injury and doesn’t get much help from the OL. With the cap hit and an opportunity to shore up the OL, I think it makes much more sense to keep him on along with Rodgers and Barber. If anything, Simms seems to be the best trade option at this point.
OL doesn’t seem to be worthy of a pick higher than the 3rd, therefore I’d say we should hit WR and TE in the first 2 rounds and shore up the OL later. Depending on our moves in FA and BPA of course. We have enough needs that we should be able to find an upgrade in every round.
Jameis has been off and on this year. Pressure from opposing defenses hasn’t helped, but sometimes it seems to be a matter of being over hyped. He tends to overthrow many times, which is hard to do when targeting Evans or Brate. Get him another big target with some speed and maybe adjust the playcalling to get him into a groove early. When he hits his stride, he is something to behold.
TE is definitely a need that should be addressed in the offseason
to be clear, OL doesn’t seem worthy of a pick higher than the 3rd in THIS DRAFT CLASS. If there were worthy options in the higher rounds I’d be on board with that pick 100%
Why didn’t they just put him on IR?
Yes, we have no push up the middle from our OL. That can be fixed next year by moving Smith from LT to LG and putting our RG at Center, where he excelled at the Senior Bowl, and replacing him with Sweazy, who was a road grader at RG for Seattle. Use our first choice in the draft for the best LT in the draft. Pamphile is no road grader but he is a great pass blocker so let him start at RT next year. Keep Dotson as the backup for LT and RT. Ditch our two other veteran OL backups and use their cap space to get a proven RB. Benenoch can backup both Guard positions and could play Tackle in an emergency too. Spend a fourth pick for another OL to develop. Either keep Hawley as a backup Center who can mentor our starter at that position or use our former USF Center as that backup. I believe Shepherd has the hands, speed, toughness, and durability to be our number two WR starter, but use our number two pick for another WR who has all those same qualities to be developed and who could step up well if Shep or Evans should go down. Use our third pick for another DE or S. We should be able to get a proven S in free agency, however. If our Offense can get sustained drives so our DL can rest between their appearances, they can stop runs by any NFL Team–see the first Buc’s victory over the Saints this year. Licht even brought in good DL backups in Preseason this past year but they were cut at the start of the season, which robbed us of good depth at that position and in my mind costed us the loss to the Saints in the last game. Hopefully though that loss will allow us to keep our DC from being hired away before we have a good shot at the SB next year!!!
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