- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
We’ll start a series of team-by-team mailbags with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Mark in Antioch, Calif., writes: Pat, I love your analytical break down on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I am a huge fan and have never lived in Florida. I follow them and cheer them on with every chance I get. I also am one that felt their focus was more on the Manchester United Team instead of the Bucs. But since seeing your breakdown, I truly believe that this is their take. I will encourage other Bucs fans to hang in there as well.
Pat Yasinskas: Thanks. That’s why I wrote that because I thought there were some misconceptions out there. I’m not saying the Bucs or the Glazer family has done everything perfectly by any means. I certainly question some of their decisions. However, it really bothers me when someone says they’re cheap because that’s flat-out wrong. I saw cheap back in the days when Hugh Culverhouse owned the Bucs and didn’t let his scouts cross the Mississippi River. The Glazers don’t come anywhere close to falling into that category. They’ve spent a ton of money on this team. You can criticize them for a lot of things, but not for that.
Dave in Iraq writes: Do you think it would be worth floating a fourth this year and third next year in the draft for say, Troy Smith? I think that Troy would help the Tampa offense greatly and I think that he's available right now. Reason I think he's available now is that he's got one year left on his contract(Unless I missed the news of him resigning) and if he ever wants to be a starter in the NFL he's going to have to leave the Ravens, so the Ravens should be willing to trade him so they get something in return. He's looked good in his little playing time and I think that the third next year would seal the deal.
Pat Yasinskas: I like Troy Smith, but I see no chance of this happening. The Bucs invested this year’s first-round pick in Josh Freeman and he’s going to be the starter next year and probably sooner than that. The Bucs have enough other areas that they need to address, so I don’t think they’ll be parting with any draft picks for a guy who’s not going to be their starting quarterback.
Jeff in Land O’ Lakes writes: Pat, You may have heard this question before, but I haven't seen it answered, so here goes. After watching the all-too-predictable crash and burn of Byron Leftwich, and remembering some of the chatter around weeks 2-3 of the preseason - Do you think there's any possibility that the Bucs dealt Luke McCown because he was the only one they could get anything for in return? I guess we have to wait until next April to see what pick they received for Luke. Byron was still making the same garbage throws in week 3 of the regular season as he had made (or missed) in week 1 of the preseason. It seems possible to me that they kept him only because they had to, and knew all along that they'd be bringing in one or both of the Josh's before the season's halfway mark. Possible??
Pat Yasinskas: I definitely think the Bucs were happy to trade Luke McCown simply because they were able to get something in return for him. I don’t think there was much difference between McCown and Leftwich in the preseason. If anything, I thought McCown was better. By no means do I think the Bucs were hoping Leftwich would fail. I think they hoped to get at least half a season out of him before turning it over to Josh Freeman. That didn’t happen and the entire offense struggled so badly that I think Leftwich was made to be the scapegoat. The Bucs will try Josh Johnson for a few games, but I suspect Freeman will be in there by the second half of the season.
Chris in Nashville writes: Hey Pat, love your coverage of the NFC South. My question: You claim the Bucs fired Gruden because he lacked any long-term plans -- Yet this season we have seen Dominik and Raheem Morris fire the Off. Coordinator a week before the season starts, bench their starting QB after trading away his pre-season competition, and go with Morris' self proclaimed "career backup" for Week 4. These are things you have not seen from other first year coaches (except maybe Todd Haley, who is also struggling). Rebuilding year comments aside, what are your thoughts?
Pat Yasinskas: All those are valid points. Throw in the fact the Bucs were going away from the Tampa Two defense and, now, they’re back to playing it, at least some of the time. One thing Tony Dungy did when he took over the Bucs was stick to his plan – sometimes to the point of being stubborn. Morris is sticking with going young and we have to give him some time to see how that plays out. But I agree that some of those plans he hasn’t stuck to are a bit of a concern.