Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are next in our series of team-by-team mailbags.
Patrick in Tampa writes: hi pat, i know the Glazers look at raheem morris and see a young mike tomlin. how long of a leash do you think he is on and how long do you think he has to put a championship team on the field?
Pat Yasinskas: I know there are some out there who think Raheem Morris might only be around for one season. I disagree and I'll point out a couple of reasons for that. First, the Glazers had to sign off on the selection of quarterback Josh Freeman. When you make a move like that, you're committing a minimum of two to three years for a young quarterback to develop. Second, the Bucs still have to pay Jon Gruden for three seasons. I don't think they want to be paying Gruden, Morris and another coach.
Ryan in parts unknown writes: I hear there is a lot of talk concerning the Bucs picking up Jason Taylor to help there defensive rush game. Its sad when Miami wont even consider the dancing star thats lost his shine but it would be even sadder if Tampa took a chance on him at this point. I'd rather see Tampa bring in a few less expensive risks like some defensive players from south Fl teams like South FL or FIU. Which do you find to be the biggest risk, gambeling on old dogs or new ones that can still learn new tricks?
Pat Yasinskas: Defensive coordinator Jim Bates has said the Bucs have at least talked about Taylor, but that doesn't mean it's going to happen. The Bucs have set a clear precedent that they're going with youth by releasing Derrick Brooks and some other veterans. They've followed that plan throughout the offseason. They asked veteran defensive end Kevin Carter to hang loose until after the draft. But after addressing the defensive line in the draft, they told Carter to move on. Although there could be an exception made for Taylor, I think the Bucs plan to stick closely to their plan.
Sonny in Las Vegas writes: I have a dozen things that I WANT to ask, but this is what I WILL ask: In the spirit of Coach Morris' new regime with regards to open competition, which of these first and second year players--E.J. Biggers, Geno Hayes, Dexter Jackson, Josh Johnson, Elbert Mack, Roy Miller, Kyle Moore, Dre Moore, Sammie Stroughter, Josh Vaughn, DeAngelo Willingham--could plausibly develop into a situation where they see significant playing time? The D Linemen seem like a safe bet, especially inside, but any surprises? P.S. What's the status of Hayes' injury? Thanks Pat!
Pat Yasinskas: I'm with you on the defensive linemen. I think Roy Miller starts right away and Kyle Moore and Dre Moore each play a role. The two other guys on your list that I like are Elbert Mack and Sammie Stroughter. The Bucs are very high on Mack and I think they view him as the third corner behind Aqib Talib and Ronde Barber right now and can envision him becoming a starter in time. Stroughter looked very good in this weekend's minicamp and has a real shot to make the team.
Eric in Paris writes: Do you think the Bucs will really take time for Freeman to develop? With a hard schedule ahead, lots of coaching change and few veterans gone, they can be pressed by the losses to put Josh into the starting line-up to give fans something to look at.
Pat Yasinskas: Here's my best guess right now: I say Luke McCown opens the season as the starter. The Bucs play a midseason game in London against the Patriots and have a bye after that. I say that Freeman's starting in the game after the bye.
Dylan in Las Vegas writes: Pat, There has been some talk that Alex Smith was just as productive as Jeremy Stevens over the same stretch. If that is the case, do you think it was wise to keep Stevens over Smith since Smith is 5 years younger and without the character issues?
Pat Yasinskas: I think it came down to the Bucs wanting to get something in return for their tight ends and Smith was the most marketable of the group.
A.J. in Dallas, TX writes: What is the Bucs best case scenario this season? Optimistic fans might say we can make the playoffs, but is that too far-fetched? What would be considered a succesful season, in your opinion, and what should us Bucs fans realisticly expect? Thanks alot!
Pat Yasinskas: Nothing's far-fetched anymore. At this time last year, a lot of people were wondering if the Atlanta Falcons could even win a game. They won 11 and made the playoffs. But I think the Bucs can have a successful season if they continue to improve as the year goes on and they get Freeman some playing time and experience.