Let's start off today's series of team-by-team mailbags with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
David in Shanghai writes: Having watched all of the Bucs’ games, it's clear to me that Caddy is not the problem. The offensive line is just not getting it done. No one other than Barry Sanders could find a hole. It also seems he's had 4 or 5 big runs called back due to penalties away from the ball (bad luck).Part of it may be the play calling or formations. As a casual observer it seems obvious to me by the way they set up whether the Bucs are going to run or pass. Still, you could say that's true of other teams, such as the Saints late last week, but they are still able to run it. I really feel it's the line that is failing. Caddy is running hard, there's just nothing there. I admit I am pulling for him since he was drafted by the team and is an inspirational story, but I feel I'm right here. It has been disappointing reading other media (not you) suggesting he is the only problem. I would think the coaching staff could see the truth.
Pat Yasinskas: This is one of many letters about Cadillac Williams and Tampa Bay’s struggles in the running game and we’ll use this as a starting point for some other letters with some shoot-off questions. First, I’m sure the coaching staff does see what’s really happening and that’s part of the reason Williams still is the starter. That tells me they don’t think he’s the whole problem. I agree with that, but I do have to be fair and say Williams may be part of the problem. He’s had two major knee injuries and may not be what he once was. But I think he still could be an effective running back when things are working well around him. As far as the Bucs being obvious with their offense, I don't think many teams would put eight men in the box because quarterback Josh Freeman has brought the element of a deep passing game to this offense.
Damione in Tampa writes: Good question for you Pat. Is it time to start drafting offensive linemen? The o line is a supposed strength, but there’s always a reason (excuse) why they haven't looked the part. The firing of O coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, an injury to Jeff Faine, etc. But could it be the line just isn't as good as advertised? Derrick Ward’s recent success makes me wonder.
Pat Yasinskas: I think you might have hit on something when you suggested maybe this line isn’t as good as advertised. Really the only guy on this line that might be of Pro Bowl caliber is guard Davin Joseph. Faine’s out now with an injury. He’s been a decent center, but never a great one. The other guard spot has been an issue. Keydrick Vincent is just a guy. Had Arron Sears not had personal problems, he and Joseph could have formed a very nice guard tandem for the better part of a decade. Having to part ways with Sears hurt the Bucs more than a lot of people realize. As for the tackles, they are what they are. Left tackle Donald Penn got a boatload of money because the Bucs needed someone to protect Josh Freeman’s blind side. Penn’s adequate as a pass blocker, but he’s never going to be a Pro Bowler and neither will right tackle Jeremy Trueblood. So, is it coming to the time when the Bucs should draft some offensive line help? Yes, I think so.
Todd in Indianapolis writes: Why aren't we talking about Pete Mangurian losing his job? I just don't understand how the O-Line goes from a strength to a rebuilding project in the 2 years he has been the coach. The line has a lot of talent. They are all starters in this league.
Pat Yasinskas: Wow, you want to put all the blame on the offensive line coach? I think that’s a stretch. Mangurian is a guy with a good reputation. True, his line isn’t performing well, but I think there’s a lot more at play here. He’s working within offensive coordinator Greg Olson’s system and, as I said above, I think a lot of people might have been overrating this line when they called it a strength and the loss of Sears factored heavily into that. Joseph’s pretty good. But I think an offensive line need at least one blue-chip guy to be very good. I don’t think the Bucs have that guy.
Chris in Harrisburg, Pa., writes: With all these fines being handed out on viscous and illegal hits, how come Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins didn't receive one for that cheap shot at Josh Freeman's knees late in the game? I mean, he was clearly out of bounds and Jenkins takes a shot at his knees. Talk about intent right?
Pat Yasinskas: The week isn’t over yet and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we hear Friday that Jenkins gets fined. He was flagged on the play and it was pretty flagrant. It didn’t fall into the helmet-to-helmet category that drew so much attention early this week. The league acted quickly on those plays. But, usually, most fines become public on Fridays.