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.
Q. Warrenfb12 said: Donavan Smith got absolutely worked by Adrian Clayborn last week. So, do the Bucs have trouble brewing at left tackle?
A. I don’t think there is necessarily trouble brewing, but Smith has struggled more at times than I expected him to going into his second season, particularly in pass protection. While Jameis Winston has had his ups and downs this season, I would love to see what he could accomplish if he had a clean pocket like Derek Carr did in the Raiders game.
While Smith has been inconsistent at times, Demar Dotson on the right side has been just as inconsistent, if not more, not to mention leading the team in penalties. There are more pressing needs for the Bucs going into next offseason, and left tackles that perform at a Pro Bowl level tend to be first rounders. The Bucs won’t have the luxury of taking a tackle with a Top 15 pick with all the other needs that will need to be addressed next draft in my opinion, so most likely it will be Smith going forward in 2017.
Q. DonkeyHunter asks: At what point does Licht start to feel some heat? The Aguayo pick should’ve been enough to get anyone fired. But, couple that with the overall FA signings under his watch, and it doesn’t appear to help his case. Do you think there’s a chance he’s shown the door, or do you think Mike Smith will be the scapegoat this year?
A. No, I don’t think Licht is close to being shown the door. I know the Aguayo pick was and still is an unpopular selection, but there is no guarantee whoever they used instead would have panned out. The Bucs success rate with second round picks hasn’t exactly been stellar. Plus eight games is way too early to determine if the pick turns out to be a good one or a bad one. I think undrafted free agent finds like Cameron Brate, Adam Humphries negate some of the misses. I think the Kevin Pamphile, Kwon Alexander and Ali Marpet picks outweigh the Austin Seferian-Jenkins pick or the Anthony Collins signing. And can we even question the Mike Evans pick?
Free agency is a crap shoot and there is a reason a player is a free agent. If teams wants to keep their top players, they always seem to find a way. That isn’t to say some recent free agents couldn’t be helping the team this season. But winning free agency doesn’t equate to hoisting the Lombardi.
And ultimately a general manager’s fate will be tied to the quarterback they draft, particularly with the No. 1 overall pick. Winston still has some skeptics but he is far from being labeled a bust by anyone.
As far as Smith, these next eight games will determine a lot moving forward, but if I had to speculate, Smith is back again next season.
Q. TampaBBR asks: Do you think the Bucs would consider moving on from Martin? He’s a great RB but we just paid him a lot of money to get hurt again.
A. C’mon man, haha! No the Bucs aren’t moving on from Martin. Injuries happen to the best of them sometimes. How can you blame Martin? Now if he were a run of the mill running back who was of average ability and he was high priced, then yes. But you can’t give up on a player that was the second best rusher in the league a year ago because of a hamstring injury. I know Martin well enough to know, that no one is more frustrated than he is. He takes a lot of pride in his toughness and not being on the field right now is driving him crazy.
Q. ShugSmith wants to know: What do you see the Bucs doing different with David, and do you think Smith is putting the players in the right position?
A. It is really difficult to determine if David’s issues are scheme or his inability to fully grasp the nuances and concepts. He isn’t hurt. And he didn’t forget how to play football. Those are two things we know. But there is no question he doesn’t look nearly as comfortable this season as in year’s past. If I had to guess, I would tend to go with him just not playing as confidently as he would like based on the scheme. I think he gets there this season at some point, and the light bulb will come on. The Bucs certainly could use a playmaker like Lavonte over the last eight games. He has shown flashes at times, but not the consistency the defense needs.
Q. Chris asks: Who would start for Kevin Pamphile if he can’t play Sunday?
A. That all depends on if Joe Hawley can play. If Hawley can play and Pamphile can’t then you will see Evan Smith slide to guard most likely. If Hawley is out then Smith goes to center and then it could be Caleb Benenoch who would see action at guard. And there is a small chance the team could activate Josh Allen from the practice squad. Something tells me Hawley plays, and Smith starts at guard for Pamphile.
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
MC- who can question the Mike Evans pick? Me and PR. Carr was there and I would take a franchise QB over the best wideout in the NFL.
a franchise QB needs weapons to throw too and Mike Evans looks to be one of the best plus we got our franchise QB a year later in Jameis, it all worked out
I would argue Winston does not look like a franchise QB. At this point he is a border line bust. Franchise QB’s do not miss open receivers as much as Winston does. His accuracy issues mean he likely be nothing more than an average NFL QB
[Winston completion percentage over his 1st 2 years (so far) is 58.6%.]
So, you mean he’s a bust like Phil Simms (55% career completion rate), Eli Manning (58%), Terry Bradshaw (52%), John Elway (57%), Troy Aikman (1st 2 yrs, 54.8%, last 4 yrs, 58.7%) or ‘Broadway’ Joe Namath (50.1%)? Great, HOF QBs have missed open receivers plenty of times in their careers. None of them could win by themselves. You can’t possibly call Winston a borderline bust before he’s even finished 2 seasons.
Man, I would hate to work for you, Bucnut2!
Yeah I can call him a borderline bust because he is. He has regressed big time. His accuracy is a big concern and his judgement is terrible
I love how you use Carr as an example, but ignore his ups and downs his first two years in the league. Raider fans griped about Carr’s consistency last year. Saw lots of their fans call him a bust and not the answer or a franchise QB. Now Carr is in the MVP discussion. Helps that his GM surrounded him with weapons and a stout OL. In fact, Winston and Carr’s numbers are almost identical at this point in their careers. So pipe down.
You didn’t want Winston in Tampa. You will never want Winston in Tampa, so your complaining is completely transparent. You’d rather Winston fail than watch him lead Tampa to greatness. Go be a fan of the Titans or Raiders.
yes exactly some of these “fans” will never accept Winston no matter how good he gets, how can you expect a 2nd year QB to succeed with only Mike Evans and no speed at WR, no consistent running game and Donovan Smith at LT
Can’t like this comment enough, he’s still pissed we didn’t get Mariota, who fumbled the Titans game away last week.
Roots what we’ve seen with Carr may end up being what we’ll see with Jameis. Carr has made steady progress in his performance from rookie year to second year to now this very successful and impressive third year as a pro. Jameis has not really progressed much yet from his rookie season, but we’re also only halfway into his second season. Far too early to be making any long term judgments on Jameis. Quite a few of the star QBs today took anywhere from 4 to 6 to even 8 years to mature and reach their true upside.
Carr was a massive bargain for the Raiders. Jameis will never be a bargain, not when we used our second all time first overall pick in the draft to get him. But Jamies may well live up to his potential.
I want TAMPA to succeed. There is just NO evidence that Winston is the answer. Please stop complaint about weapons. Winston misses wide open receivers. More people getting MORE open won’t help. HE is just NOT an accurate passer.
Good to see Bucnut log in with his golden nugget of stupidity for the day. Jameis is top 5 in the NFL in Td’s right now and top 10 in yards. He has two turn-style offensive lineman, WHICH CARR DOESN’T HAVE. No running back and only Mike Evans to throw to. We get it, you don’t like Jameis. Either pick another team, because he’s not going anywhere, or actually watch the game for a change and not focus on the long balls he doesn’t connect on. Some people are just dense.
Winston looks like a second year player who has plenty of time and opportunity to develop into a long time franchise quarterback (whatever the hell that term means … it means many different things to many different people … I prefer to use instead the term “elite quarterback”, which is pretty easily defined as being in the top handful of quarterbacks in the league).
Winston isn’t there yet, and likely we won’t know if he will get there until a couple more years from now.
Maybe he’ll get there as his devoted fans insist he will, and maybe he won’t get there as his devoted critics insist he won’t.
Me – I’ll play “wait and see”… not a fan and not a critic, just a skeptical Bucs fan (all Bucs fans have extremely good reasons to be skeptical of all players, all coaches, all teams, all GMs, and all owners of this franchise!)
I’m responding to your other comment about Carr. I think Jameis is playing better than he did his rookie year. Not by a lot, but a some. I only say that because his offense has crumbled around him. It’s difficult to make a jump, when your OC can’t call games to put you in the best spots to succeed and your personnel is lacking. By no means do I think Jameis hasn’t had two stinkers this year and needs to play better in spots. But, I think he’s progressed a bit, given what Dirk & he have had to work with. Hard to gauge. I’m confident he’ll continue to play well the last 8 games & next year (with an upgraded WR) he’ll take another jump.
As long as the GM builds the team up, if Jameis never pans out, then the team will be set up if they get another QB. But I don’t think it’ll go that route. I’m willing to wait and see, while hoping he continues to play well the rest of this season.
Sorry but we should have just franchised Doug or drafted another back injuries happen but when ur hurt three of ur 5 years it’s like the old saying goes the best ability is availability and lil Doug is not available alot 3 of 5 years is pattern next year he will b hurt again and in 2018 he will b ready to go
I would not promote Josh Allen take the chance on Gottschalk .
I was thinking the same thing horse.
we are all in agreement
I have a question, when do we start playing guys who might have a future with the Bucs instead of the Contes, and Smiths who don’t? We hear about guys like Elliot DB behind the scenes who they like, shouldn’t he get some snaps from Grimes? I get it, the Bucs are trying to win games like I’m trying to win the lottery, what are the chances? Time we play for next year, this season is over, doesn’t mean it needs to be lost. I’d rather see anyone but Conte, and Daryl Smith get beat again. I’d like to see if the back up LT, can block better then the starter, or if Caleb can play RT. Smith should be benched after last week, and Dotson needs to sit with his poor play, and penalties. Maybe that’s why we’re losers, no one pays the price for poor play, instead they just keep getting paid.
The coaches play the best players on the team at the time of a game. Anyone of the young guys you might be thinking of are not as good as conte or smith. period. No matter how bad you think Conte is, he is better than the other options. Just like Grimes and Smith. The chances of the Bucs winning are SIGNIFICANTLY higher with the veteran guys. As far as benching Donovan or DDot thats also a pretty ridiculous suggestion. Assuming the younger guys will be good because the veterans are struggling is ass backwards logic
Comical, absolutely comical.
Just a few questions. I agree with surferdudes, what’s it hurt to look at some other players, season is pretty much toast at this point. But I simply hate the “play for a draft pick” mentality. Every year I find myself focusing on College football and who might satisfy our needs. That is just a dam tragedy! The whole idea is to win, to change a losing culture, mindset, attitude. Or should we shoot for .500 this season, maybe beat the bears, the Saints twice, and Carolina. Maybe we should focus on winning our first home game this year and our 4th in the past 3 years. Being a Buc fan is not about a winning tradition, it’s about how you strategically want to lose, I actually enjoy the off season more playing “what if” football than I do the regular season where I spend most Mondays pissed off. I am well beyond the injury excuses, well beyond trying to explain why Lavonte David dropped off the map or Why Jameis Winston thinks all his players are 8’2″. Above questions are good, unfortunately need to add them to the other 500 unanswered ones.
Mark, just a quick question…do you pick the questions to answer in Bucs Mailbag each week based on a system, or are they picked at random? Were there no more incisive questions than these to answer? I get it that many fans are frustrated with the mediocrity the team has demonstrated on the field since game 13 of 2008, but give me a break! Do these fans think the NFL is some kind of TV ‘reality’ show? That the Glazers just need to borrow a spell from the Harry Potter universe and suddenly the Bucs will start winning?
I take them as they come in pretty much. Some weeks the question pool is larger than others. This was pretty much it for this week when I started the article.
OK, thanks. I guess this serves as a reminder to all of us out here to post more questions and give Mark more material to work with.
Boarderline bust??? Hey Bucnut, can u share some of that stuff ur smoking with the rest of us?! Jamesis is a 22 year old QB who would be a senior in college had he stayed in school. Does he make mistakes… of course he does! What 2nd year QB doesn’t. I think Jamesis thinks he has to win the game on every down. No supporting cast around him outside of Evans. Jamesis is not the problem. If our Defense could stop somebody… anybody, we could have won a couple of more games! Jamesis is/will continue to be our franchise QB of the future. It’s a fire drill on every play! Surround him with better talent and some playmakers and see what he does. Other teams know we are starting our 5th or 6th string RB. No threat from the run game. Stop Jamesis… beat Bucs, it’s that simple!
couldn’t agree more we have seen plenty of flashes of greatness from Winston so far any Bucs fan who has already turned on him isn’t a true fan remember what Winston looked like week 1 vs Atlanta with a full strength team
Really thought we would see better results from Hargreeves and Spence! At one time, early on, Spence was considered to be the #1 talent in draft. We have to do a better job of talent evaluation. No pass rush! It’s that simple. Rush the QB and see our defense improve! Go BUCS!
bucballer,i agree w/ being underwhelmed w/ Spence- but he’s been picking it up as of late, and hasn’t he been playing w/a shoulder injury?
Noah Spence is doing quite well for a rookie DE … second in sacks on the team at 3.0, and he seems to be learning more each week and progressing, going from a rookie backup to a starter in less than half a season. People who expect great pass rushing DEs to get outfitted for their yellow jackets as a rookie have very unrealistic expectations. For examples from current (2016) DE sack leaders:
Cliff Avril (Seahawks), the leading DE in sacks with 9.0, in his rookie season with the Lions he got 5.0
Kerry Hyder (Lions), tied for second leading DE in sacks with 7.0, in his rookie season he got 0 sacks,
Khalil Mack (Raiders), tied for second leading DE in sacks with7.0, in his rookie season he got 4.0 sacks.
Bruce Smith (retired), all time sack leader with 200, had 6.5 sacks in his rookie season.
So there is no reason to be complaining about Noah Spence’s performance this year … he is on track for a typical rookie DE
The reason the Aguayo pick was so egregious is because every Tom, Dick and Harry knew we had holes to fill all over the team. DT, S, WR, OL, DE, CB all needed major upgrades, or at minimum quality depth added. So yeah, while there is no guarantee those two players would have panned out, but I’d be more okay with trying to fill two areas of need, than using a luxury pick on a K we didn’t need. Simply maddening. Imagine how much better we’d be set up for this offseason if we had added DT & WR? or S & CB?
The issue with Smith is troubling. He was mostly fine last season, but he still has games where it looks like his feet are stuck in the mud and gets Jameis rocked. But, I agree with Mark and don’t think he’s going anywhere. Dot has been a disappointment. Add RT to the list of needs this offseason. Doug is simply an enigma at this point. 2 healthy seasons where he’s looked unstoppable. 3 seasons of being injured and mediocre results. Hopefully he balls out next season, cause he will be our starting RB.
He had an All Pro Guard playing next to him who could help him and also the Center. There is a reason why the Falcons let Hawley and Evan Smith go. I would like to see Gottschalk get a shot of playing Center. I like what I saw in pre season. I already know Josh Allen caliber of play from two years and three years ago and he hasn’t gotten any better. As far as I’m concerned he is a wasted spot on the PS. Sure could use some more WR’s, Safteies, OT, DB’s, TE’s on the Practice Squad.
I’d like to see Marpet moved to C, and Sweezy (I know) plugged in at his natural RG spot. Marpet is nasty and won’t get pushed around as much as Hawley. I like Hawley’s toughness, but we need an upgrade this offseason. I’m not against Gottschalk getting burn. Allen can leave. Caleb will hopefully pan out and from what I’ve read, he’s coming along nicely. We need to anchor the RT spot this offseason. It’s a must. Dot has allowed so much pressure in Winston’s face this season.
Aguayo is not yet a bust as an NFL kicker. But he may well end up a bust if he doesn’t start making virtually all of his extra points and at least 85% of his field goals and more than 50% of his long FGs (>45 yards) by the end of this season.
However, in line with your reason, Aguayo already IS a bust as a second round draft pick kicker. You don’t draft kickers in the top two rounds unless you are a team that is already well stocked at most other key positions AND you are extremely confident that he will be a 90% FG kicker in the NFL – and both of those two “IF’s” are very high hurdles to clear.
Licht therefore effed up that particular draft pick with zero doubt abut it.
But at the same time, Licht has made some very good draft picks in his three drafts so far. And all of us should recognize that average NFL GMs rarely produce much more than 50% success with their draft picks. I would define “drafting success” as 50% or more of the players you draft are offered a market rate contract at or before the end of their rookie contracts. Since measurement of success like that requires many seasons to validate, that’s why you don’t want to fire any GM with less than 5 years experience unless he is just egregiously effing up, such as seeing most of his picks end up as obvious busts, or if he is unable to manage the salary cap. We’re simply not at that point today with Licht.
Licht is midway through his third season as GM, with some very good draft successes and some draft clunkers, just as even notably successful GMs experience. Unless he just completely whiffs it on the next two drafts, there will not be a sufficient record to judge him on until the end of his 5th season as Bucs GM. If by the end of that season, he is clearly scoring significantly less than a 50% success rate on his picks, then he should be retained as long as he does that well or better going forward on a moving 5-season average.
I don’t think Berto is a bust…yet. His 2nd round position will be tough for him to ever live up to. As you said, he’ll need to be 90% for multiple years. Which, is very difficult. I want him to succeed. We need him to succeed. But, I saw him decline at FSU for 2 straight years, so I’m not overly surprised he’s struggling.
I have faith in Licht. He’s hit on some good draft picks & FA pickups. 2015 was a home run. But, I do think he greatly overestimated the talent and depth on his roster this offseason. Not signing a legit #2 WR. Not adding DT or S depth in FA. And that was also reflected in using 2 picks for a luxury pick of a K, instead of those positions, or PBA. You’re right, teams that are well established can make those gambles. Not ones with a roster full of holes. Hence my frustration. I still have faith, but I do think he dropped the ball this past offseason. 2017 FA & draft will probably make or break him in the eyes of the Glazers, who have zero patience. Which also annoys me. I’m so sick of them making bad hires and then firing them. Panthers are prime example. Smart moves and time.
I agree with you Horse on Gottschalk. At some point we have to address the center and LT positions. We should consider kicking Smith to the right side and invest in a first round protector for our franchise quarterback. I say this because my first choice of trading Martin and drafting Cook from FSU will not happen.
Thank goodness we had some objective Buc fans here. For those who think Winston is a bust, I guess you don’t remember the days of Dilfer, Thompson, Chandler, Testaverde, etc…, he’s by far the best QB we’ve ever had! Like another user said, Winston rarely has a clean pocket. I watched Carr against Denver and he had a clean pocket most of the time against them too. I’m thankful we have Winston, he’s tough, smart, a natural born leader, and he’s only going to get better. My son played baseball at FSU and he loved Winston, what you see is real, the guy is something else which will payoff in the long run for the Bucs!!
I love how Ali and Smith are tight but some of you are right, Smith struggles too much in Pass Protection but I think he’s going to grow into the position. I like that the players are close because it drives them to get better and have each other’s back. Which is why ASJ is outta here because I’m sure all of us saw he had the talent but his head was as big as his stature, it’s not how you build a team!
I agree about the kicker but like Mark Cook said, it’s way too early to call him a bust. Spence has been showing promise and he’s playing hurt! Hopefully, getting a year under his belt and getting stronger he will make a huge improvement next year. He seems like another guy who wants to be great so he looks promising.
When it comes to Marin, I remember Tiki Barber saying running the ball and getting tackled is like running full speed into your garage door! Well, if you don’t think Martin is tough then we are seeing two different things. I love Koetter so when he says Martin is a top 5 RB, I tend to believe him. Does suck he’s been hurt but so has McCoy wary in his career and look at what he’s done overall.
For me, the biggest difference from last year to this year is Martin and Sims not being available and VJ being a non-factor and now injured. Don’t quote me but last year I think we were one of the best of not going 3 and out which is huge to keep the Defense off the field. If we kept the D a little more fresh by keeping the O on the field I think we be 4-4 at least maybe 5-3. Defensively, the DBs have been a lot better but there is zero pass rush so it’s really hard to say who’s at fault. Watching the Seattle/Buffalo game, my God was that a physical game but each team would get pressure on the QB but there was still guys wide open at times but when the pressure was there the QBs would make a mistake.
About Licht, I’m sorry but I think he’s doing a great job! His hits have been Homeruns. I’m praying the Glazers give these guys enough years to turn this thing around. I think that they are honest with the players and I think that goes a long way! We haven’t had that since Dungy. Hey, just my opinion! You hear stories about all these other coaches and GMs and they would lie to the players and treat them like crap. I’m sorry, when players love their coach they step it up another notch.
Oh Mark I normally agree with you, but you’re absolutely losing it with the first question. Smith has been an absolute turnstile at LT. he is by far the worst starter on the team. If Tampa didn’t start a LT, it would have provided as much resistance as Smith. LT is absolutlely the top need if Tampa picks high enough To get a good one in the first round. They are in tough shape along the line and LT is the top need
With respect to Jason Licht’s performance in drafting quality players vs. “busts”, a lot of fans have highly lofty and unreasonable expectations of what constitutes “success” in drafting.
Would most NFL fans agree that Bill Belichick, operating as both Head Coach and GM,is considered to be just about the best in the league at acquiring talent? If for no other reason that his ability to win Super Bowls and get his team to the playoffs, that would have to be a reasonable conclusion.
Well, I did an analysis of Belichick’s draft picks over the last 10 seasons (so no selective cherry picking). Here’s what I found:
In the 2007 through 2016 drafts, Belichick drafted 92 players (that’s a lot, 9.2 draft picks per year, owing largely to his skill as a draft horsetrader and picking up compensatory picks when other teams raid his free agents). Of those 92 picks:
26 of those 92 players were on still the roster as of this month, of which 18 have started at least one game in 2016. That number includes 9 players drafted in 2016, a number of whom are not going to be Patriots come the end of their rookie contracts in 4 years.
During that same timeframe, the Patriots inked second contracts with only 10 of the 92 players drafted (11% retention rate), and traded only 4 of their players to other teams for either another player or a draft pick (so at least the Pats got something for their pick).
When you subtract all of the players who were cut or waived or traded to another team and were not offered second contracts, the Pats were left with only 32 of 92 draft picks. That comes to a 35% overall draft success rate!
Of the 26 players drafted by the Pats over the last 10 years and are still on the roster this month, 19 were drafted in rounds 1 through 4, and only 7 were drafted in rounds 5 through 7. A total of 50 players were drafted by the Pats in Rounds 5 through 7 (heavy on the compensatory and traded picks here), so the success rate of players drafted in Rounds 5 through 7 is only 14%.
There’s still a whole lot of data yet to be generated by the Licht regime drafting results, but if the greatest talent assembler in all of pro football can only get 35% of his picks to stick, and that rate being heavily padded by picks who really haven’t been proved out yet at all, then why should we expect significantly better than a 35% success rate by Licht?
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