Thursday, September 23, 2010
Tampa Bay Buccaneers mailbag
By Pat Yasinskas
Amar in South Korea writes: So now that we lost Tanard Jackson ... Any chance Jermaine Phillips will be back? He knows the system and is better than what we have on the depth chart.
Pat Yasinskas: A lot of fans are throwing Phillips’ name out there. I see the logic and wouldn’t totally rule out the Bucs bringing him back. He’s familiar with the system and the coaching staff is familiar with Phillips. However, there are a couple of reasons why this might not happen. First off, Phillips is 31 and the Bucs are committed to a youth movement. Second, Phillips suffered a major injury that forced him to miss 14 games this past season. I don’t have any information on if he’s fully recovered. But the fact that we’re in late September and Phillips never has signed with any other team could be a sign that he’s not physically ready to play.
Victor in Texas writes: Now that Jackson is out can Sabby Piscitelli, Corey Lynch, or Cody Grimm step up and make plays or are we just doomed in the FS position? Are there any good safeties out there right now that we could sign or trade for that could help us at all?
Pat Yasinskas: I’m sure general manager Mark Dominik and his personnel staff are looking at all available options. But it’s not like there are a lot of great safeties sitting on the street this time of year. Even if the Bucs bring someone in, it would take some time for him to learn the system. In the short term, they might have to go with what they’ve got and that’s not particularly appealing. Sean Jones is the starter at strong safety. He’s a solid veteran. A lot of teams like to say the safety positions are interchangeable and Jones is probably the one guy in this bunch that can play both safety spots. Keep him where he’s at or move him to free safety? I’m not sure that part really matters. The real question is who do you line up next to Jones? Piscitelli didn’t have a bad preseason, but lost his starting job to Jones. Piscitelli is the most experienced alternative, but he doesn’t have the coverage skills to succeed as a free safety. If you’re going to start Piscitelli, it’s probably at strong safety with Jones moving to free safety. Grimm is a guy the Bucs like a lot. But he was a seventh-round draft pick for a reason. He’s listed at 6-foot and 202 pounds, which is not great size for a safety. I think that 6-foot figure is generous. I’ve stood next to Grimm. If we were on a basketball court, my first instinct would be to post him up. Lynch had a good preseason, but he’s viewed more as just a special-teams player. There also have been some questions about moving one of the cornerbacks to safety. While I wouldn’t totally rule that out, I’d say it’s unlikely because it’s difficult to make a position switch like that in the middle of a season.
Marques in San Diego writes: Can you possibly shed more light on the problems of our now suspended young safety? I have been a fan of Tanard Jackson since his college days and I was really bummed when he was suspended last year. This will be a big blow for the team and was wondering what specifically he violated and why the suspension is so severe?
Pat Yasinskas: The NFL doesn’t provide a lot of details when a player is suspended for something like this. But you can look at Jackson’s history and add this suspension and deduce several things. He obviously has been in the league’s substance abuse program for some time and there are indications he might have been placed in it as soon as he got into the league. That would suggest he’s tested positive for an illegal substance at least three times now. His four-game suspension last year was an indication there was at least one previous incident. That suspension also put Jackson on notice that another violation would lead to a more severe penalty. Even with that knowledge, he still committed another violation. It’s sad because Jackson is a very talented player and I hope he can get his life together and not throw away his career.
Corey in Lemoore, Calif., writes: I’m a huge Bucs fan and was wondering is Mike Williams the real deal or could he end up like Michael Clayton doing nothing after a great rookie season? I’m hoping he becomes a star and bring hope back to the franchise?
Pat Yasinskas: I’m a little hesitant to anoint Williams as a great receiver after only two games. But so far, things are looking very good. He had a great preseason and is off to an excellent start. I also think the fact he’s with quarterback Josh Freeman and in an offense that will throw the ball downfield probably means he’s not the next Clayton.