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. BucsReign wants to know, do you think the Bucs giving up long pass plays still is indicative of poor scheme or poor techniques/talent in the secondary?
Answer: There are so many possibilities but nearly impossible to pin it on just one thing. First and foremost, I would think one of the biggest factors is the lack of a pass rush. Without looking back on the game tape, I am guessing on a majority of the “explosive” plays, there was little or no pass rush from the Buccaneers defense.
I like the technique being taught by the secondary coaches, especially compared to the last staff. I have seen the coaches up close in practice and the specific technique and attention to detail they drill these guys on. Of course part of a good coach is getting the message through to the players. And certainly there is something to the fact of these guys learning a brand new system. Which is night and day to what they have done the last two years.
I would like to think it gets better as the year progresses, but I am a glass half-full guy. Time will tell, but something needs to start turning around soon or this promising season could get out of hand quickly.
Question 2. ShugSmith asks, how long can we stick with our safeties before we make a claim off waivers, or give Ryan Smith a chance?
Answer: It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bucs begin to start giving Smith more opportunities. We saw them work Keith Tandy into the rotation on Sunday, and unfortunately it was Tandy on the end of a long TD pass to Tavon Austin. Smith has two disadvantages working against him. First is the fact he played at such a small school, and also secondly, he missed part of the offseason with injuries that slowed his development, not to mention transitioning from a college corner to an NFL safety.
If the Bucs find themselves staring at a 3-7 record or something along those lines at some point this season, I would expect the team to see exactly what Smith can do. Both Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald are on one-year deals, so the team at some point will need to see what the rookie can do in live game action.
Question 3. CaliBuccaneers asks, what’s up with VJax? Something seems off. Same thing happened to Roddy in ATL. What r chances we resign VJ?
Answer: That is the $9.7 million dollar question. And one that needs an answer. Is Jackson still having lingering effects from his injury last year? Highly doubtful as he didn’t look hampered at all in the offseason program or in training camp. Is Jackson just slowing down due to his length of time in the league? That sounds more likely to me. Or maybe there is a chemistry issue between he and Winston. Whatever it is, the Bucs need a better and more effective Jackson. The drop on the last drive – despite what would have been a tough catch – was costly. However Winston completely missed him a few plays later for what would have been the game-wining score.
Question 4. Morgan asks, does 4-12 Koetter get a second season?
Answer: In my opinion, and just total speculation, I would say no. A lot of factors would go into a decision like that, however. Obviously if Winston got hurt and missed significant time, or there were more injuries on both sides of the ball it can’t be blamed on Koetter, but if this team stays relatively healthy and just falls off the track then he certainly would be on the hot seat. We know the Glazers aren’t bashful about making changes, but they already have caught some flack by some for the coaching turnover since the end of the 2012 season and I wonder if they factor that in a decision if your record scenario came true. Some coaches are just natural coordinators, but let’s not forget Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick were both fired from their first NFL head coaching jobs. It is way too early to say which Koetter is, but I as a media member do appreciate his frankness, and from what we have been told, so do the players.
Question 5. Alldaway commented, the double A-gap blitzes worked when used. Why did Mike Smith stop using them during the Rams game?
Answer: Very good question and one we won’t have an answer for until Thursday when we get a chance to talk to Smith siting his weekly press conference. I love seeing an aggressive blitzing defense, but you better get there. I do know some of the defensive guys leading up to the game, talked about Case Keenum and the Rams offense getting the ball out quick, limiting chances to get to him. Maybe Smith figured he would let things happen in front of them.
And of course if you blitz and Todd Gurley is able to get past the front line and into the secondary, he was liable to break it for a long one. Sometimes, especially on run blitzes, you run yourself right out out the play. But that is all just speculation until we can talk to coach.