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Bucs Beat: Stephen Holder of the St. Pete Times answers our Questions about the Bucs

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Last week St. Pete Times beat Writer, Stephen Holder, took time out of his busy schedule to field questions from Bucs Fans. Below is the discussion we had on his blog, ‘Bucs Beat’, as well as my comments based on his opinions:

Buc ‘Em:

Do you see the Bucs pursuing a WR in Free Agency (Torry Holt/Marvin Harrison) or the draft (Percy Harvin/Darrius Heyward-Bey)?

St. Pete Times:

I don't see WR being a priority for now. The importance of getting Bryant and Clayton back plus adding Winslow (basically another WR) can't be overstated.

Did you hear that? Go ahead and erase those visions of drafting a Quan Cosby, Louis Murphy, or a Greg Carr, given the roster numbers it’s not likely to happen. I question our quality of depth at the position, but you got to figure one of the seven other guys will produce. That still doesn’t make it any easier passing up on the receivers above.

Buc ‘Em:

Would the Bucs look to bring back Kevin Carter?

St. Pete Times:

Absolutely. They've been in talks with Kevin and have expressed a desire to bring him back. Why hasn't that happened yet? I'm not totally sure. But there's a mutual attraction there.

I asked this kind of tongue in cheek hopeful the Bucs hadn’t contacted the 36 year old (when the season starts). At the same time he was very good at stopping the run and with the performance Greg Stylez White had last season, you almost have to bring back Carter for insurance purposes.

Buc ‘Em:

Do you think the Bucs are legitimately thinking about drafting QB Josh Freeman?

St. Pete Times:

I think they're thinking about it, but the reason outsiders (Kiper, etc) tend to think they need a QB more than the Bucs think so is because the Bucs know McCown better than anyone else. I'm not predicting the guy will be a hall of famer, just saying that he has talent and the team believes in him.

At the onset of the off-season I didn’t really think McCown would be the answer, especially considering he’s had four years to force Gruden’s hand. The more I listen to him though, the more I think he could be an alright Quarterback, maybe even better than alright. At this point I just want to observe the competition. I do think it’s McCown’s job to lose going in, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the opportunity.

Buc ‘Em:

Why is Raheem Morris so adamant about adding another QB to the mix?

St. Pete Times:

He never said he was going to add Peyton Manning. A fourth QB might well be someone who has no chance of making the team. They just typically take four QBs to camp, so they need another. That brings me to another point I should make. The team you see on paper now will NOT be the team that lines up on opening day. We have the draft and a potentially talent-filled second wave of free agency after the draft.

I’m not buying the need for a fourth Quarterback. Gruden struggled with getting his guys reps as it was. Teams may take four QB’s to camp, but they rarely take four through the season. Meaning someone would have to get cut should a fourth guy be brought in. What a waste of a draft pick that would be if the guy coming in was taken on the second day. Like Holder reiterated, the roster still has plenty of shaking up to do before we head to Training Camp.

Buc ‘Em:

Have they put any thought into making Kellen Winslow a wideout and Michael Clayton a tight end?

St. Pete Times:

Never going to happen. I know people think Clayton can make the switch because he blocks well. But he's blocking guys in the secondary, not LBs and OTs. I hear this proposed by people quite often, but it's a lot more far-fetched than most realize.

I know I told you guys I wouldn’t utter Clayton’s name until the season started, but this was a conversation between me and Stephen, ha! I couldn’t let the moment pass without slipping this one in on him no matter how irrational it came off. I’m starting to think Raheem’s motivational approach will help Clayton remain loose and indirectly help him hold on to the ball more by allowing him not to think so much or worry about the wrath that follows a dropped ball.

Buc ‘Em:

Pat Yasinskas from ESPN thinks the Bucs will pass on Freeman because Raheem needs to win now... surely he has a little bit more rope right?

St. Pete Times:

Pat has a point. Look, we're all speculating at this point. But here's why that makes sense. They cut five core veterans and put their reputations on the line in doing so. You can't turn around and then go 4-12 on the back end. Makes it look like you made a bad call.

My comment follows below…

Buc ‘Em:

Perception and Reality are two different things though. We all know the Bucs were not as good as the record dictated last season which is why they got bounced down the stretch. I hope the Glazers realize this and give their current staff time..

St. Pete Times:

Getting younger also could contribute to fewer injuries later in the season. We'll see.

I’m not buying Pat’s notion that Raheem needs to win now. I understand his premise and understand where Stephen is coming from as well in terms of cutting a legend and having to play as well if not better than they would have with said legend, BUT the Glazers were in on this decision; probably more so than we will ever know. With that I would hope (obviously none of us know for sure, Raheem/Dominik included) this current staff is given the necessary time to right the ship.

Buc ‘Em:

Do the Bucs see Dre Moore as somewhat of an additional draft pick this season, meaning he took an entire season off and may be ready to produce at the level they initially drafted him for?

St. Pete Times:

He is better suited for the style Bates wants to play. An overweight DL is going to struggle playing in the gap system. Sapp was a rare breed who could blend his size with speed. Dre will get a realistic shot this fall. It's up to him.

I’m interested to see how Bates system works and I’m a bit terrified as well. It’s one thing to put guys in there because they are fat big and can clog holes, but what happens when they clog our tacklers (Ruud, Phillips, Jackson etc) from getting to the ball carrier? Like everything it seems, we’ll have to wait and see.

Buc ‘Em:

Were there any players currently still with the team that were disgusted or angry with Brooks, Dunn, and June being released?

St. Pete Times:

Not that I'm aware of. Lots of players were shocked. But I think everyone understood this is a time of transition. If they were ever going to make such a move, this was the time. I think stunned, but not angry.

It remains to be seen whether Derrick Brooks will latch on with another club for one year or take less money to return to the Bucs. I would say the outlook doesn’t look good with the addition of Angelo Crowell, though his injury and the potential for Jermaine Phillips to not make the transition could open the door for Brooks to return and especially if Geno Hayes gets sliced up again. I kid because I care…

Buc ‘Em:

Do you think the Bucs were legitimate in their pursuits of Haynesworth and Vilma?

St. Pete Times:

Definitely. They were in it with Haynesworth right up until the end. I heard from people inside the organization that they were VERY high on Vilma. I think missing out on him is the reason they went after Crowell. They would have played similar roles, perhaps.

Losing out on Vilma still baffles me today. All they had to do was money whip the guy. He did have a gentleman’s agreement with the Saints though in terms of returning. As far as Haynesworth I’m elated we didn’t sign him for $100 million. I know that’s not the true number, but even $30 million guaranteed is a tall order especially for a team that has depth issues and a question mark at QB.

Buc ‘Em:

I keep reading comments from the Bucs organization regarding an increased focus on drafting well. Have there been any changes in the scouting department to help make this happen?

St. Pete Times:

No major changes there to my knowledge. But keep in mind, we'll never know how much of a voice those scouts and evaluators had under Gruden and Allen. I think Dominik will be very willing to consider everyone's opinion because he's been the guy on the other side before having come up through the ranks. Raheem also has shown a willingness to take advice from his assistants realizing there's a lot he doesn't know.

That’s a refreshing take, it really is. I never thought of that angle. Dominik being the guy suggesting so-and-so while Bruce and Gruden ignore him by taking such-and-such; like Holder said we’ll never know who had the final word. Dominik’s bio on the Bucs website gives him credit for bringing in or suggesting to bring in:

Buc ‘Em:

Do you see Chris Hovan getting transitioned out of a starting role due to his lack of size? And what happened to Greg aka Stylez White last season? Do you think he bounces back?

St. Pete Times:

Hovan needs to be in the lineup given their current lack of depth. And remember, Bates has a tendency to play a lot of guys in his rotation, so they need bodies. Greg White -- Stylez, whatever -- he has got to be more consistent. That's why the team gave him an incentive laden contract. He lacked a track record in the league and last year was a perfect example. He's a one-dimensional player: pass rusher, though he's quite good at it.

Yeah I can’t see Hovan letting Sims, Peterson, and company out work him for his position. What happened to Greg White? I questioned the reasoning of not paying him considering he had led the team the previous season with 8 sacks. I thought an incentive laden deal would work wonders for him. Apparently Bruce Allen did too, as I remember the number being something like $500,000 for each sack. I would have bet my house that he would have ended the season in double digits with a monetary incentive like that, but it just didn’t happen for Greg. Now there’s word he can’t handle the left side, but Gaines is anchored on the right side. This will be a situation to watch in camp.

Buc ‘Em:

Aqib Talib played WR and was a Returner at Kansas, any chance Raheem gets more out of him than just secondary services?

St. Pete Times:

I remember some conversations with Gruden in which he talked about maybe throwing Talib a gadget play or two. Same with Buchanon. It never happened. I think that will be up to the coordinator, Jagodzinski. Haven't heard anything about it so far.

I remember talks of Buchanon potentially returning kicks/punts, but like you said it never materialized on the field despite the need for it. Maybe he’ll try that in Detroit? I couldn’t see them putting Aqib in the offense considering how important he is on defense, imagine if he went down while stiff arming a linebacker..

Buc ‘Em:

Not to harp on the past, but did Jeff Garcia really change the play calls in the game, enough so that it grated on Gruden?

St. Pete Times:

I think it's more a matter of Jeff not running the play the way Gruden preferred rather than just changing it altogether. Jeff's style didn't really mesh with Gruden's offense at times, so it was not exactly a match made in heaven.

Which begs the question, why didn’t he turn to McCown… Like the little Owl says in the Tootsie Roll Pop commercials, ‘The World may never know’… or so I think that’s what it said. Moving on…

Buc ‘Em:

Have you noticed any of the players appearing to be more relaxed with the new coaching staff in place?

St. Pete Times:

I've heard there's a different feeling in the building. Less uptight. I'm not ripping anyone. That's just what people are saying. There is definitely a different atmosphere.

I think we all figured this much, Gruden was certainly a polarizing figure. It kind of speaks volumes that rookies would come in and have immediate success, to then never reach that success again. Of course that’s not all on Gruden, but he certainly played his role in the part.

Thanks for the information sir! Stephen will be in Bucs Mandatory Mini Camp next week so be sure to check out his blog from the St. Pete Times as he and Rick Stroud continue to be a must read for Bucs information.