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Bucs Mailbag: Can The Bucs Beat The Eagles?

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By: Scott Reynolds

 

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Pewter Report’s Scott Reynolds answers your questions from the @PewterReport Twitter account each week in the Bucs Mailbag. Submit your question to the Bucs Mailbag each week via Twitter using the hashtag #PRMailbag.  Here are the Bucs questions we chose to answer for this week’s edition.

QUESTION: Do you think we have shot at beating Eagles? Do you think is it possible?

ANSWER: Yes, the Bucs have a shot at beating the Eagles. This young Tampa Bay team is full of confidence after a 2-0 start and a rousing victory in the team’s home opener, a 27-17 win over the Chicago Bears. Philadelphia, the reigning NFC champion, also comes into next week’s Monday Night Football contest 2-0. The Bucs have beaten a pair of winless teams in the Vikings and Bears, while the Eagles have done the same with a pair of triumphs over the Patriots and Vikings – both of whom are 0-2.

Bucs RB Rachaad White

Bucs RB Rachaad White – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

We saw improvement in the Bucs offense and the running game, which is paramount because the Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in football. Philadelphia had an absurd amount of sacks last season, leading the league with 70. The Eagles only have four sacks through two games, while the Bucs now have eight after collecting six against Justin Fields on Sunday.

But with a pair of first-round draft picks playing defensive tackle in Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter, Philly has the league’s best run defense, allowing just 52 rushing yards per game. Tampa Bay is right behind at second in the league with 54 yards per game.

In order for the Bucs to win, they have to almost have a similar type game as they did against the Bears. The offensive attack in Chicago is similar to that of Philadelphia’s, as both the Bears and Eagles have very mobile quarterbacks who are best when having a solid run game to lean on. The difference is that Jalen Hurts is better than Fields, and D’Andre Swift, who had 175 yards rushing last Thursday, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell are better than any of the Bears’ running backs. Not to mention Philly has a much better offensive line than Chicago does.

So a week after playing the J.V. squad, the Bucs defense gets a crack at the varsity team. If Tampa Bay can slow down the Eagles ground game, contain Hurts and harass him into some turnovers like the defense did with Fields, then the Bucs certainly have a shot. Holding the Eagles to 23 points or less is key.

Offensively, Baker Mayfield has to once again play turnover-free football and the offense needs to improve in the red zone. Tampa Bay is currently ranked 29th out of 32 in red zone efficiency. The Bucs were just 1-of-4 in the red zone on Sunday with Rachaad White’s touchdown, and then the Bucs had to settle for three field goal attempts – one of which was blocked.

As I mentioned in last week’s Pewter Pulse video, the NFL schedule-makers did the Bucs a favor in scheduling the Bears and Eagles in back-to-back weeks. Tampa Bay’s defense has back-to-back weeks to prepare for similar offenses, and that should help. Now the Bucs offense has to do its part and score more than 20 points and finish better inside the red zone. Yes, Tampa Bay has a puncher’s chance to knock out Philadelphia in Week 3 on Monday Night Football.

QUESTION: You mentioned in a recent Pewter Report Podcast that you think Mike Evans is going to have to have monster year to get that extension from the Glazers. He seems to be on pace for just that. What numbers would you estimate earn him that extension? Or is it just wishful thinking?

ANSWER: After a big, six-catch, 171-yard receiving day against the Bears, Mike Evans is now fourth in the league in receiving yards (237) behind Justin Jefferson (309), Puka Nacua (266) and Tyreek Hill (255) through Week 2. More importantly, Evans leads the team with two touchdowns after having just six TDs last year. Coming off a great training camp, I wrote that the four-time Pro Bowler could be in for a monster year. Evans is off to a hot start in what is a big contract year for the 30-year old receiver.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Evans is on pace for 102 catches for 2,320 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Of course he won’t top 2,000 yards or even come close. Averaging 118 yards per game over a 17-week season is quite a stretch and unsustainable in this offense. Jefferson led the league last year with 1,809 yards, and did that averaging 106 yards per game. Evans’ career high when it comes to receiving yardage is 1,584 yards, which came during the 2018 season. Evans averaged 99 yards per game that season.

More importantly to Evans and the Bucs is the fact that the future Hall of Famer has a touchdown in each game. Evans set the franchise record with 12 receiving touchdowns during his rookie year in 2014 and tied it a few years later. Then he topped it with 13 touchdowns in 2020 in helping lead the Bucs to a Super Bowl championship. Evans then established a new record with 14 receiving touchdowns in 2021 before falling off to just six scores last season.

When Evans has 13 touchdowns or more in a season, the Bucs achieve double-digit wins. I think 13 (or more) is the ultimate goal for No. 13 because points win games – not yards.

As for Evans’ contract situation, having 70-plus catches for over 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns in his 10th season should earn him a nice contract from some team. I think for the Bucs to really be interested in re-signing him he needs to hit at least 1,300 receiving yards with at least 10 TDs. Evans had 1,124 yards last year and 1,035 yards and 1,006 yards in the two previous seasons. Barely getting to 1,000 yards is one thing. But if Evans wants to be paid among the league’s elite receivers – by the Bucs or another team – he’ll need to prove he can hit the 1,300-yard mark again at age 30 and show no signs of slowing down.

QUESTION: There have been a few comments regarding the gritty and hearty play by Baker Mayfield to grind it out through the first half and finish the job in the second. Does this remind you of Jeff Garcia? I can see the comparisons – tons of heart and grit. Not fancy, but got the job done.

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and QB Jeff Garcia

Former Bucs head coach Jon Gruden and QB Jeff Garcia – Photo by: USA Today

ANSWER: That’s actually a very good comparison, and one I hadn’t thought of before. Jeff Garcia came to the Bucs during the 2007 season and led the team to a 9-7 record and an NFC South title. Then Garcia helped get the Bucs off to a 9-3 start in 2008, but a 0-4 finish led to Tampa Bay missing the playoffs and a house cleaning that included firing head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen, and a complete roster overhaul in 2009.

At 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, Garcia was built similarly to Baker Mayfield, who is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. Both quarterbacks displayed mobility and a knack for escaping pressure and making some improvisational plays outside of the pocket. And both QBs were known for their heart, grit and toughness as competitors.

Garcia completed 64.5% of his passes in Tampa Bay with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions over that span. But Garcia was older, playing with the Bucs at age 38 and 39, and did get hurt in each of those seasons. Garcia missed three games in 2007 and four the next year due to injury.

Mayfield has only played in two games in Tampa Bay thus far, but he’s off to a remarkable start, completing 47-of-68 passes (69%) for 490 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. There are 15 more games to go and we’ll see if Mayfield can stay healthy and continue to stay away from turnovers. But yes, his frenetic style of quarterback play and accuracy are reminiscent of Garcia.

QUESTION: Baker or Brady?

ANSWER: Seriously? I mean if we’re talking about Tom Brady – the greatest of all time – in his prime, there’s no comparison. He’s the best quarterback to ever play and has the most regular season wins, playoff wins and Super Bowl wins to back it up. As much as Baker Mayfield is confident in his own abilities, if you asked Mayfield whom he would pick, my guess is that he would pick Brady over himself. Mayfield has always spoken glowingly of the former Patriots and Bucs quarterback.

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Now if you’re asking about taking this year’s version of Mayfield, who is 2-0 and has yet to turn the ball over, or last year’s version of Brady, it might warrant a discussion. Brady wasn’t bad last year, throwing for 4,694 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Most NFL teams would take that level of quarterback play in a heartbeat.

But last year Brady wasn’t the elite QB he was in Tampa Bay in 2020 with 40 TDs and 12 INTs in helping the Bucs win Super Bowl LV or in 2021, beating his own team record with 43 scores with only 12 picks and a franchise-best 5,316 passing yards. He wasn’t in a good head space with his divorce, which was finalized during the season, and that was reflected in his play on a few Sundays.

Brady certainly wouldn’t be a great fit in Dave Canales’ offense, which features play-action bootlegs, waggles, rollouts and the occasion designed QB run. Mobility was not among Brady’s assets, but he was the greatest pocket passer of all time.

“Anytime your quarterback can move, it always helps avoid sacks,” Bucs head coach Todd Bowles said after Sunday’s win about Mayfield, who has been sacked just once in two games.

So in this offense, this year, for this Buccaneers team, it would seem Mayfield would get the slight edge over a 46-year old Brady – just because of his fit in Canales’ system, which the Bucs are running. But I caution you that there is a long season ahead. Tampa Bay started the season 2-0 last year and finished 8-9. We’ll see if Mayfield can continue his Houdini act behind the line of scrimmage to avoid sacks – and avoid turnovers – and if the Bucs continue to avoid losses, too.

QUESTION: I have a question – can I get a YaYa “Bodegaaaaaa!” Diaby tomorrow (in SR’s voice) on the Pewter Report Podcast?

ANSWER: Absolutely! Happy to oblige! Victory Mondays are always the best Pewter Report Podcasts to tune in to – outside of our post-game Pewter Report Podcasts following a Bucs win. And if you have no idea what this question is referring to, you’ll have to tune into this week’s Victory Monday Pewter Report Podcast to find out.

On Mondays, Matt Matera and I always do Roll Call at 4:20 p.m. ET, where we ask our live listeners to enter the chat and let us know where they are viewing the podcast from. The Pewter Report Podcasts are not just viewed in the Tampa Bay area and the state of Florida. We have viewers and listeners across the country and the world, as well. Make sure you visit our PewterReportTV YouTube channel and subscribe. We’re on our way to 12,000 subscribers, so thank you, Pewter People!

Make sure you check out our latest Pewter Report Podcast: Sack Attack! Bucs Beat The Bears before tuning in to Monday’s show.

 

The post Bucs Mailbag: Can The Bucs Beat The Eagles? appeared first on Pewter Report.

Originally posted on Pewter Report