PewterReport.com began a new offseason feature this year, 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, five of the questions used will earn the person who asked it one of our new Tampa Bay schedule refrigerator magnet.
Question 1. Eric Walls, how does Noah Spence look? Starter or situational pass rusher?
Answer: It is really difficult to tell obviously as the players weren’t in pads. You could certainly see some of the traits that intrigued the Bucs and even other NFL teams who considered drafting the talented pass rusher. He appears to have a nice first step, and is very aggressive, along with other positive traits, but until he is in pads going agains other players, I can’t give an honest assessment. The good news is, we are only 10 days away from the start of camp and then a couple more days before they are practicing full contact drills. I am sure the Bucs are hoping he storms into camp and wins the starting job right out of the gate similar to what Kwon Alexander did last season. The one concern I have is the fact Spence is only listed in at 250. Is he big enough yet to anchor the edge at this point? The league has some defensive ends who are on the smallish side, but how does he fit in Mike Smith’s style of defense? Meaning what will he require his ends to do? And it is almost guaranteed, that in the Tampa heat, he is bound to drop even a few more more pounds. Speculating only, I would guess Spence at least starts the seasons as a situational pass rusher.
Question 2. DeweyKevin asks, what are Javien Elliott’s chances of making the team?
Answer: Well a Florida State fan I know a little about Elliott, and wish him well, but there is no doubt it will be an uphill struggle to make the team. With that said, if you asked me about Adam Humphries last year at this point I would have said the same thing, and we know how that turned out. Although Humphries had a better resume coming into the league than Elliott did who was a walk-on at FSU that didn’t see the field on a regular basis until late in the season due to injuries at the safety position for the Noles. I would guess that the best case scenario Elliott could hope for would be to impress enough to earn a spot on the team’s practice squad where he could continue to develop as a football player.
Question 3. Dan McLeod asks, What do you think Dan Vitale’s chances are of playing a SIGNIFICANT role in this offense? He is an athletic freak!
Answer: I really like his chances. I mean let’s be honest, he was a sixth round pick, so it wasn’t like he was in huge demand as all of the other team’s passed on him multiple times. However, when talking to members of the Bucs front office, the genuinely see something in the former “do everything” former Northwestern standout. And also let’s face it, the Bucs have a need at fullback. A coach and offensive coordinator like Dirk Koetter likes the fact that Vitale was so versatile, and his wheels are probably turning somewhat as he dreams of ways he could utilize Vitale’s pass catching ability from multiple positions on the field. Of course all of this will be based on how his game transitions from the college gridiron to the improved skill level of the NFL. Vitale, from early indications, look alike a guy who relishes the opportunity and if I were a betting man, I would say he earns a spot and is a contributor this season for the Bucs. I don’t expect him to make a Mike Alstott-type rookie impact, but I do think he has a chance to make several NFL teams wish they had selected him prior to the Bucs drafting him.
Question 4. IsaacHall asks how do you feel about our coaching staff and how they will pan out in comparison to other NFC coaches?
Answer: Well to be honest I really thought a lot of Lovie Smith’s staff when he initially brought them aboard when he was hired prior to the 2014 season. Gil Byrd for instance seemed like a great choice to coach the defensive backs, but that didn’t exactly pan out. I also thought Leslie Frazier was a great hire as defensive coordinator. And maybe it was just a situation where it wasn’t a great fit for some of the assistants. As poorly as I would say some of them coached, they all know more about football than most of us, although knowing and conveying things are two different animals. With that said, this staff looks to be as good as any staff the Bucs have had since the days that Jon Gruden roamed the sideline here in Tampa Bay. Obviously, like many, I am very excited to see what defensive coordinator Mike Smith brings to this team. Two other coaches I was impressed with watching all of the offseason practices was DB coaches, John Hoke and Brett Maxie. Also keep an eye on special teams coach Nate Kaczor. I spent an hour in the stands in Mobile at the Senior Bowl last January and acme away extremely impressed.
Question 5. Jay Cole asks, Humphries and Dye stepped into huge roles last year, have they progressed so far this year?
Answer: You can clearly see a difference in the two from last year to this year. And that comes with confidence. Both, as you mentioned, were put in prominent roles last season, and while neither overwhelmed, both gained valuable experience that neither would have gotten without injuries to Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy. That isn’t to say either will develop into superstar players, but both have potential to fill certain roles with this team. It will be fun to keep an eye on this camp.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
My answer to the mailbag questions: 1,he’s too small; 2,slim to none; 3,he will play a minor role at best; 4,OC is good and DC is fair; 5,yes and will be solid receivers- the bigger question is will Bell make it.
Horse, I’m surprised. You may be a bigger pessimist than I am. Perhaps you too are tired of drinking the kool aid every single year only to have it turn sour.
I would answer…
1.) He will likely be situational until he acclimates to the NFL and puts on some more size. That being said I think he has chance to make an impact and some splash plays this year.
2.)slim to none and who cares? Lol. Not a big college fan and don’t know too much about him actually. I just want the best players on the team.
3.)I think wig Martin being a heavily used weapon this kid may see a failrly significant role if he blocks well. He also has speed and hands that don’t belong to a FB. Lots of potential but lots of question marks too.
4.)this is the best staff since Gruden left IMHO. Lovie was a joke and didn’t matter who the D coordinator was because stubborn Lovie had to call all the shots. Never like Raheem or Shiano. I had some hope for Lovie but it evaporated 1st season and I saw the writing on the wall. Time will tell. Maybe Koetter is one and done but I don’t think so. Mike smith will be good simply because he has experience and he will be allowed to actually run the defense by the head coach!
5.)who knows until training camp. I have higher hopes for Humphries. Not too sure about Dye.
I thought from the very beginning the Nepotism-loving, good-old-boy network hiring Lovie Smith’s Coaching and staff
would – and they did
would suck – and they did
Anybody have an extra Starbuck’s
Spence will be solid this year. Wear down their Tackles with the bigs like Ayers & Gholston and then let Spence and Smith use speed around the edges. Wait til he gets a 3 sack game and Horse will be singing a different tune…
Great point, P Schmidt!
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