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. Pickett971 asks, based on talent do you think Vitale would of been drafted higher if FB was a more premium position in the NFL?

Answer: That’s a tough one, but speculating I would say no, and reason being is, he wasn’t a true fullback at Northwestern anyway. I think teams know all about his versatility and all the things he brings to the table, and if they thought he was extremely valuable or a sure-fire lock to being a star player in the NFL, he would have went earlier to any of the other 31 teams, or even to the Bucs for that matter. Now, that isn’t to say he won’t be a great player for the Bucs. Every season you can look back and in a sense redraft players and see where teams missed on guys, whether it be players that should have fallen, or players that should have been drafted earlier. How many of the teams in 1995 that passed on Sapp, wish they could have that draft over? Or even Alstott who went in the second round? The answer is lots of those teams! Only time will tell where Vitale should have gone. But for now the Bucs and Dan himself seem very happy the two are together in Tampa Bay.

Question 2. MrMaloneyPE asks will DE J. Smith make the leap this year and become the pass rusher we need alongside Spence?

Answer: I have said it multiple times this offseason, with everyone looking for the Bucs first double-digit sacker since 2005, I believe he was already on the roster in Jacquies Smith. Now, he has to stay healthy, and he has to continue to improve. But talent wise, I believe he is the Bucs best pass rusher at the end position, by a long shot. He’s fast, athletic and has a high motor. He can impact games like few on this roster. Go back and watch the Week 2 win against New Orleans. He was unblockable on that turf against the Saints. Can he put it together for 16 games? Can he take his game to a new level and develop some counter moves as opposed to being just a edge speed rusher? Those are the questions he will need to answer in the offseason and then preseason, but again, I see Smith being a guy who can hit the 10 sack mark this season.

Question 3. Suh Dude asks, what rookie signing/ free agent will have the most impact for this team week 1?

Answer: If you are talking from the whole entire rookie class, including draft picks, I really like Noah Spence to be that guy. In fact, Scott Reynolds and I discuss that topic in the latest Pewter Pulse. I think Vernon Hargreaves could struggle a little at first, and there are a lot of players at that position who probably are in the rotation, but I think Spence, if he stays healthy in camp will be a key cog on passing downs and if he gets a sack or two to start the season, he will have made a huge Week 1 impact. Of course if Roberto Aguayo hits a game-winning 60-yarder at Atlanta, or Hargreaves has pick-6, then no one will remember Spence’s sacks!

Question 4. David Stepp asks, is the Mike Smith scheme the answer to secondary woes that seem like they’ve lasted forever?

Answer: Let me just say, it can’t get any worse. I’ve watched Buccaneer football since 1977, the team’s second year, have many games on DVD and re-watch them occasionally, and I can’t remember seeing a more inconsistent and poorly coached secondary as I did the last two seasons. I don’t blame the coaching staff 100 percent, but the constant carousel and revolving door at cornerback was honestly embarrassing. Every week it seemed to be a new player or two in the starting lineup, eliminating any possibility for continuity in a unit that needs familiarity with the guy lined up beside, in front of, or behind them. We don’t really even know what the scheme or plans Mike Smith will bring to the defense, but I am almost certain it won’t be a game of cornerback musical chairs. That in itself should help with some of the woes. Add in Brent Grimes, Hargreaves and Josh Robinson, and it may the most improved unit when the 2016 season is said and done.

Question 5. Josh Owens asks, do you ever see there being a “rocket backfield” type with Doug and Sims being featured prominenently?

Answer: Interesting question Josh, and yes I could see that possibly being the case. Now you don’t hand Doug Martin the money the Bucs did to make him a part-time player, but Tampa Bay is very pleased with Charles Sims and what he was able to do in his second year, and that is looking like a terrific draft pick. Sims and Martin led the NFL as far as total yards by a duo and there is no reason to believe it will change. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Koetter and his staff look for ways to get both on the field more this season to utilize the skills of both even more. I know some fans were scratching their head that the Bucs didn’t add a speed-threat receiver this offseason, but there is only one football! Martin, Sims, Vincent Jackson, Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate and now Vitale? There are a lot of weapons on this team.

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 protected]

15 COMMENTS

  1. Bucs have enough hb horsepower and receiving Te’s/Fb’s/Hb’s to beat a lot of teams. We barely need Wr’s!

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  2. Everybody seems to talk about this Mike Smith defense like he is kiffen. Honestly, how long do you think he will even be around? Most likely, is he a one and done? Then the defense has to learn yet another scheme?

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    • I prefer to give em chance. Geez

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    • Lol have you seen his past? He made the jags a contending team and the Falcons were a contending team he has to be better then lovie

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  3. If we can stay healthy on the DL, and the first two picks pan out we could be close to producing a team that can compete for the Division. Our offense is there. If the bucs have the same kind of luck with this draft as they have had in the last two you better buy your season tickets. Because this Fan remembers what it was like buying tickets in 2002 once they started looking like a serious team. This community is itching for a great football team.

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    • I would love to see Tampa community fill the seats at RayJay and support this team. I believe they are on the edge of being a competitive, winning football team. I miss living down there and going to the “sombrero” to see them play. My wife and I can’t get down there this year. But, we would like to see a game in 2017. Go Bucs, I’m ready to win!!!!!

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    • I agree we can compete for our division – the teams are just so close that wins/losses tend to come down to bounces, turnovers, injuries.

      However, I wouldn’t agree that “our offense is there”…our QB was hit the most of any QB in the league last year (+90 times), and our OLine lost its best (and only probowl) player…now I’m sure Marpet and Smith will improve in year 2 (fingers crossed), and I’m sure Sweezy has something to offer or we wouldn’t have gone after him in FA…but I think we still have some work to do before we can say we’re there on offense – at the rate Winston was hit last year, he’s not going to have a very long career.

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  4. Ayron54 this article said the secondary couldn’t get any worse. Hardly says he’s the next coming of Kiffin guaranteed. Lol. I know Players are excited and it will be a more aggressive style defense that attacks more. If that works out depends on lots of things. Players staying healthy, draft picks panning out, etc. I know one thing Mike Smith is a fiery SOB that won’t stand there with a stupid look of bewilderment on his face when our defense is getting torched! He had almost .600 winning percent as head coach, and his defense in Jacksonville was good. Can we play 1 game before we start asking how long he will be around! If after these last 2 drafts, Koetter being promoted after a brilliant job with this offense and rookie QB, and hiring a fiery D coordinator that kicked out ass for 6 years, doesn’t at least get you a little excited I don’t know what to say. Add in free agent signing Grimes who I know damn well can play CB at a high level and played for Smith, Ayers who looks like he can be a solid starting caliber DE, etc etc. I know the last decade has sucked big time but I really think the Bucs are close to being a team that will start winning 8 or more games a season. Go Bucs!

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  5. If you are truly unhappy with the Buc’s draft check out this nfl.com stuff. Who, knows, you might just cheer up a little.

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000661030/article/tampa-bay-buccaneers-the-rare-sleeper-team-in-todays-nfl

    Go Bucs!!!

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    • Nice, positive article! I almost always feel that way this time of year, though

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  6. ayron54, guys like you who claim to be fans give me indigestion.
    As fredster said, give the guy a chance before you start with your negativity.
    To be realistic, the jags did have a good defense but Atlanta’s petered out after time due to poor drafting and no pass rush.
    Last year’s pass rush for the Falcons was last in the league I think. But what do you expect when a teams big FA signing is Adrian Clayborn.
    Falcons used to have John Abraham, a stud DE, who used to give our team major and others headaches before he retired. He was about the same size as our No. 2 pick and was a beast.
    When he retired the Falcons defense started to fizz out and they were never able to replace him.

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    • Guys, i think my post was misinterpreted! I meant will Mike smith be around for years like kiffen. Due to his success in the past and the success i believe he will have next year with us. Is he one and done, like will he most likely be a head coach after next year. I love the bucs guys and i drink the kool aid EVERY year! Go bucs

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  7. Great link wintergreen, even though I detest Adam Schein. He must know where someone is buried to have his job.

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  8. How do you log into Mailbag to ask a question? I noticed a few UDFA’s received a bonus when the Buc’s signed them. Why, are they the most likely to make the 53 man roster or are the Buc’s somehow preventing other teams from recruiting them?

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  9. Following seat26 comments:

    I can remember a time you could not find a ticket for our games. The list for season tickets was a mile long. (I could not afford them anyhow.)

    I did manage to get some tickets under the Pirate Ship for one game, though, in about 2000, if I remember correctly. We got to see John Lynch intercept a pass from the back side. The game was against Detroit. It was a memorable experience that I appreciate having.

    I was very fortunate to have a friend who had season tickets in 2002 — paid for as a business expense. He invited me to attend games on a couple occasions when he had no client to entertain. I remember how exciting it was to see that Gruden had “cobbled together” a real offense.

    I am optimistic that the Bucs will be competitive this year. I hope that we will have stability and success for years to come. I see improvement overall.

    It won’t bother me to only be able to see all our games on TV if I can’t get tickets easily again.

    Go Bucs!!!

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