PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature recently, giving readers an opportunity to get their questions answered by the PR staff. Today, Mark Cook answers five questions taken from Twitter submissions using the hashtag #PRMailbag. Each week, one of the questions used will earn the person who asked it one of our new Tampa Bay schedule refrigerator magnet.
Question 1. Chris McCormack asks, will there be tension this season between Jameis and McCoy now that Jameis is the unquestioned leader of the team?
Answer: While that was subject to debate late last season, McCoy put that to rest in a phone call to my boss Scott Reynolds after Reynolds wrote about a report of it in one of his Fab 5’s late last season. McCoy was quite upset that the perception was he was jealous or there was animosity between he and Winston, and assured Reynolds numerous times that just wasn’t the case. I have known and dealt with McCoy in the locker room over the last six seasons and he does like being in the limelight at times and enjoys there attention. And I have no problem with that. He has a great personality, and trust me, all the reporters love when McCoy holds court. He is entertaining, engaging and a pretty funny guy. He also isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind which is refreshing. And let’s just say for a minute that there was some legitimite tension between the two, is that the worst thing? Listening to Reynolds talk about some of the locker rooms in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, you wonder how they were a perennial playoff team all those years. And it wasn’t just tension, there were physical altercations. But the bottom line is, when the whistle blew and they stood on the field for three hours on Sunday, they were as a tight of a team as there was in the NFL. I think this team is as unified as anyone I have seen in my career covering them. But just being a tight and close locker room doesn’t win football games.
Question 2. Cory Byington asks, do you guys see Dirk calling the game more aggressive?, With Mike Smith coaching defense and solid kicker in Aguayo?
Answer: That is something I asked Bucs GM Jason Licht when Reynolds and I interviewed him a couple weeks back and he thought it would be the case somewhat. While Koetter called the plays and schemed and game planned, it was still Lovie Smith’s team last season and a team takes on the personality of the head coach. Just speculating, I would guess there were times last season when Koetter wanted to be more aggressive in his play calling and also maybe pushing the envelope a little more than Smith might have preferred. I think we will see a more aggressive game plan with Koetter now the head coach and offensive play caller. Part of that will be based on the development of Winston though. If Jameis continues to grow and improve it will give Koetter and his offensive staff more confidence to show that aggressive nature. And by having a kicker that the team feels will be an almost automatic three points when on the other side of their opponents 35-yard line, Koetter can also be more aggressive taking shots on third down. Of course Aguayo will still need to prove to the team that he is a consistent weapon for it to happen, but by all indications the Buccaneers think they have just that in the former FSU star.
Question 3. Biron Smythe asks injuries are unavoidable in the NFL. If VJax or Evans miss some time, who fills the void? Young WRs, a TE/H-back?
Answer: You are correct, injuries are unavoidable, you just hope the one you suffer are at positions where you have enough depth to cover them up. Sometimes you get lucky like the Bucs did in 2015 finding Joe Hawley and Gosder Cherilus towards the end of training camp. You could even argue that Hawley was an upgrade over Evan Smith and Cherilus was at least not a drop off from Demar Dotson. That is a rare thing to find two guys on the street that late in camp that made your team better. As far as at the skill positions, it would much more difficult to try and replace Mike Evans or Vincent Jackson with guys walking the streets unemployed. However, I think the Bucs like that they have depth and while it wouldn’t be an ideal situation, we saw them make due last year playing some younger players, and in the process, those players (Humphries, Dye, Brate) developed into arguably potential starters down the road for the Bucs. And without being thrust into action last year, that wouldn’t be the case most likely. I keep reminding some, myself included, there is only one football to go around. Evans, Brate, Jackson, Humphries, Charles Sims, Doug Martin and Austin Seferian-Jenkins if healthy, all can do some great things with the ball in their hands. And that’s not even mentioning rookie Dan Vitale, who the team thinks can contribute this year as a rookie, Kenny Bell and Louis Murphy. I have no idea of the scheme or distribution if there is an injury but I think this team is much more equipped to deal with an injury or two than they have maybe in the history of the franchise.
Question 4. Bucs 24/7 asks, With the bucs preaching versatility, who gets the last RB spot? Barber or James?
Answer: Right now if a decision were to be made it would easily be Mike James. Of course Barber has yet to even begin to understand the offense or have an opportunity to showcase his ability. It will be a fun battle to watch in camp this year. And a lot will be based on how each performs on special teams. Again the edge right now is obviously with James but Barber may have a little more upside. Had Barber stayed another year and did what he did as a sophomore where he eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, he most likely would have been a mid-round draft pick. So the talent is there but it won’t be easy to unseat James.
Question 5. Trienta Tres asks, do u think that Charles Sims can convert to the wide receiver full time and play the slot position?
Answer: I suppose he could, but I don’t see the Buccaneers attempting to do that. He really showed his value and potential last season as a running back and receiver out of the backfield that created some matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. Sims also is a great change-of-pace style back that differs from Doug Martin. His versatility was a huge benefit for Koetter last year, and I am guessing the offensive staff is working on ways to showcase him even more in 2016, I just don’t think it would be as a full time wide receiver.