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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Mailbag: Tampa Bay edition

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

We'll start the team-by-team mailbags with Tampa Bay. Lots of good questions about Monte Kiffin, the playoff outlook for the Bucs, Jeff Garcia's future and plenty more.

George in Lakeland writes: Who in your opinion will Tampa use to replace Monte if he leaves for Tenn?

Pat Yasinskas: My guess is the Bucs will stay within the organization to replace Monte Kiffin as defensive coordinator. They've got Raheem Morris and Larry Coyer on staff and both are capable of taking over. If I had to guess, I'd say Morris because he's a rising star in the coaching ranks and probably will attract interest as a coordinator elsewhere if he doesn't get this job. I know there also has been speculation about Rod Marinelli because of his ties to Tampa. I think Marinelli will get fired by Detroit, but I think he'll end up elsewhere as a coordinator. Just remember Marinelli is very close to Chicago's Lovie Smith, who may have to make some changes on his coaching staff.


Dylan in parts unknown writes: What are the chances of Tampa Bay winning the Super Bowl this year? It is in Tampa and they will sneak up on people due to lack of media on the team.

Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs are at least a contender, especially if they can secure the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Getting by the Giants will be a huge hurdle for any team in the NFC, but Tampa Bay's defense is good enough to keep them in any game. As far as the media attention, I don't know that the Bucs or any team in the NFC South, for that matter, is really as far under the radar as a lot of fans claim. The Bucs, Falcons and Panthers are all generally recognized as the next level below the Giants. Also, Tampa Bay gets more local media attention than any NFC South team. Six newspapers and one Web site cover the Bucs on a daily basis and the Tampa television stations are regularly out at practice. In Charlotte, three newspapers cover the team regularly. In Atlanta, there's only one most days. In New Orleans, there are generally two or three newspapers with the team on a daily basis.


tripsr3 writes: Hi Pat and thank you for reply to my last question. I have two questions here that have to do with Monte Kiffins eventual departure from One Buc Place. Has an assistant coach ever been inducted to the HOF, and what do you think of Monte's chances of HOF membership? Thanks.

Pat Yasinskas: Unfortunately, there's no precedent for an assistant coach going to the Hall of Fame. But, if they created a wing for assistant coaches, Monte Kiffin would be in on the first ballot. He's been a great defensive coordinator a long time and his defensive schemes have spread throughout the NFL. So have the assistant coaches who have worked under him.


Chris in Roanoke writes: Do you think that this is tampa's year to go to the super bowl? We have a good defense, explosive special teams, and an offense that usually gets enough points to win. There's also a sense of urgency considering kiffen and most of the big name players are out of here next year. And with the bucs great home play you have to think that it makes the players want it more since the super bowl is in tampa this year.Is it just me or does it seem like the peices are falling together for the bucs?

Pat Yasinskas: Let's wait and see what happens Monday night. If the Bucs can get by Carolina, they'll be in great shape. Even if they do, there still is the matter of getting through the Giants in the NFC.


Geraldo in parts unknown writes: Probably like a few Bucs fans, I've been wonderig how to get tickets to Bucs game in london. Do you have any additional info?

Pat Yasinskas: I just called the Bucs and asked them your question. They said there will be an opportunity for fans to buy tickets to next year's game in Wembley Stadium against New England. The details aren't finalized yet, but the Bucs said they'll make an announcement about London ticket opportunities some time after the season ends.


Kathy from parts unknown writes: Please explain how it could possibly make sense for Monte to leave the area? He's the highest paid coordinator in the league and has been here in the wonderful warm weather for YEARS. Why would he want to go to Tennessee and make less? Just to work with his son? It doesn't make sense to me.

Pat Yasinskas: I obviously can't speak for Monte Kiffin. And, you're right, he's well-paid and has been settled in Florida for a long time. But the opportunity to work with his son and help get his regime off on the right foot must have a stronger pull than anything.


Mez in Louisville KY writes: Is it just me or is Donald Penn silencing a lot of his critics this season? Not that many tackles can manhandle Jared Allen like he did.

Pat Yasinskas: Excellent point. Donald Penn is one of the most underappreciated players in the league. He's made himself into a very solid player and shown that you don't always have to spend a first-round draft pick or tons of money to get a decent left tackle.


Jax Buc writes: Will Jeff Garcia re-sign with the Bucs? I just read an article that he is playing to prove his market worth because of ill feelings since the first season game benching. If not Garcia, then who would take the reins?

Pat Yasinskas: Jeff Garcia has definitely played his way back into Jon Gruden's good graces. But I don't know that his long-term future is with the Bucs. First, I think he might want out after what happened earlier this season and the fact the Bucs didn't give him a new contract when he wanted one. Second, he's 38 years old and can't play forever. Third, and this is important, Gruden's always going to be on the lookout for quarterbacks. Just a thought here, but do you think Gruden might get a little excited about the possibility of putting Donovan McNabb in pewter?