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5 Qs. 5 As with Bucs Nation: Tampa Bay remains confident in Jameis Winston, concerned about pass defense

Seattle Seahawks v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

When I used the image search for “Seattle Seahawks Bucs” the first picture to pop up was of Steve Spurrier in a game against the Seahawks in 1976. Who cares about relevance, how am I supposed to pass up that opportunity?

Spurrier played in the NFL from 1967-1976, spending the final season of his career in Tampa Bay with a Buccaneers team that was in its first year of existence and still a year removed from their first-ever win. The Bucs went 0-14. Compare that to the 2-12 record of their expansion counterparts in Seattle and it seems nominal, but Tampa Bay at least had Lee Roy Selmon, the first overall pick in the ‘76 draft and a Hall of Famer at defensive end.

The Seahawks, picking second, had Steve Niehaus, whose best career accomplishment is that he was the name “Dave” away from being a Seattle legend.

Not to be outdone in near-misses in the draft, the Bucs parlayed their 0-14 record into selecting running back Ricky Bell over Tony Dorsett in ‘77. The Seahawks, again picking second, moved down 12 spots in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys that landed them three second round picks. The deal ended up doing very little for Seattle, who saw Tampa’s move of passing on Dorsett and raised them their own move of passing on Tony Dorsett.

Cut to 2002 and the Buccaneers are Super Bowl champions.

Cut to 2013 and the Seahawks are Super Bowl champions.

Cut to 2019 and here I am doing 5 Qs and 5 As with Gil Arcia of Bucs Nation. I wanted to know about Jameis Winston, the run and pass defense, and the offensive line. We get into that and only that. So let’s get into that.

Q: I run a football podcast called Goofballs and recently our guest Dominique Johnson, a Bucs fan, said he’d rather cut Jameis Winston than have to watch him start another game for the Bucs. This was literally the Tuesday AFTER Tampa’s 55-40 win over the Rams, but he held steadfast and was unwavering in his belief that Winston would just suck again anyway. Tampa is 0-3 since with Winston throwing seven picks in his last two games. How many more starts do you think Winston has left for Tampa Bay and is ONE too many? Does Bruce Arians sound at all confident during his time as head coach in the idea that Winston will be the starter beyond 2019?

A: There is a lot that goes on in this Tampa Bay offense, a lot of moving parts. Arians immediately came out following the game last week pointing out that receivers haven’t been doing much to help out Winston. And I have called it several times live on Twitter those miscues by the receivers from the press box. In Nashville, it was really obvious and no different. The staff is beyond sold on Winston’s ability. In fact, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said confidently on Thursday that he “feels” Winston will be on the team in 2020. So we’ll see.

Q: Shaquil Barrett has come out of nowhere to lead the NFL in sacks and forced fumbles and this is with a bye week already in the books. What makes Barrett dangerous on that defense and why did he play in a season-low 60% of the snaps last week vs the Titans?

A: From Day 1, the team was beyond excited in acquiring Barrett this past offseason. I personally was very reserved. However, Todd Bowles had a vision for how to utilize him in this defense. They are allowing him to do what he does best and it’s all coming together for him. As for this past game’s snap count, they got Jason Pierre-Paul back in the lineup. I think this was more of an attempt at trying to see what rotation worked and also not excluding Carl Nassib, who has been playing really well also.

Q: The Bucs have the best run defense in the NFL, which is surely an area of concern for a Pete Carroll-led offense. That being said, it seems as though this just leads teams to successfully pass against the Bucs instead. Who is the leader of the run defense for Tampa Bay and who is the weakest link in pass defense?

A: I don’t think there is one individual person for either part of the question here. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh have been really good up front against the run. But it’s the linebackers hitting their gaps that have allowed for the Buccaneers’ front seven to stuff the run for the most part this season. As for their pass defense, the secondary is a mess. The first two games, while there were some struggles, the secondary didn’t play so badly. However, these last seven games have been horrid. They have made guys like Daniel Jones, Teddy Bridgewater, and Kyle Allen look like pro bowlers. Just imagine Russel Wilson facing this pass defense. It’ll be a beautiful thing to watch if you really enjoy watching quarterbacks.

Q: With the fifth overall pick in the draft, the Bucs selected linebacker Devin White. That’s high enough for a linebacker to be considered an elite option moving forward, but White has missed three games. He has returned over the last two. What does White give the defense, even as a rookie, that they didn’t have without him? Do you expect his impact to be major at this stage?

A: I feel that White is still learning. He is involved in plays, but his stat line doesn’t show much of anything. He definitely brings an element to the Buccaneers defense they haven’t had in a while, which is size, speed, and strength. He is part of the reason why Tampa Bay has been so good against the run because he does a good job reading the backfield. Like every other rookie though, it’s hard to project how he will turn out. Many were quick to label Vea a bust last year, but now he is the main man in the middle for the Bucs. I’m very intrigued with White’s potential.

Q: Give me a general breakdown of the offensive line. The weak spots, areas of strength, and expectations against a very tame Seahawks pass rush?

A: Left tackle Donovan Smith has done a much better job than expected after he was under a lot of criticism his career so far. Left guard Ali Marpet has been good as usual while center Ryan Jensen has been the veteran the Buccaneers brought him on for back in 2018. The right side of the line has been very questionable all season. Aging veteran right tackle Demar Dotson did not play while injured and second-year lineman Alex Cappa -- while playing “ok” -- has been inconsistent and injured. Earl Watford has been filling in, but that right side of the offensive line is very suspect.