------- Answered Aug. 27: Q: Josh Freeman looks as though he is afraid to throw the ball in fear of having it intercepted. He waits way too long and his accuracy is horrid, which never used to be the case. How do we get this kid back to the confident young man he was coming in? Sam, Saginaw, MI A: Interesting point here, because overconfidence was one of Freeman's big problems a year ago. He was so sure his passes would connect that he was making some questionable throws and that often cost him. I'm not sure, though, that you and the Bucs are seeing the same thing. Freeman looked very good in his first series against Miami and his first series against New England. He didn't look as sharp at other times, but Bucs coach Greg Schiano said a lot of that was due to receivers running imprecise routes. One thing to keep in mind is that everyone is learning a new system and that it is a timing system. That will, pardon the pun, take some time to learn, so Freeman should begin to look sharper more consistently - to you and everyone - as time goes on. -- Roy Cummings ------- Answered Aug. 1: Q: What are the chances Josh Freeman returns to his sophomore year form and one of the top 10 QBs in the league? Joshua, Brooklyn A: I think there's a good chance of him regaining something similar to that form. It's hard to ask any QB to consistently throw three times as many touchdowns as he does interceptions, but if he can throw twice as many TD passes as picks, he'll have a successful year. And I think that's possible. The Bucs are really emphasizing the need to throw the ball away when plays aren't there and to make better decisions. They're correcting some mechanical issues as well and that should give him a good foundation for success. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: It's Greg Schiano's job to pay attention to offense, defense and special teams, but is it possible that he could spend more time with the defense to correct the issues we have? Zach Blaine, Knoxville, TN A: Make no mistake: Coach Schiano is a defensive-minded coach and he is spending the bulk of his time working with the defense. He oversees the offense and he has standards he expects to be met there, but he's not designing the scheme or calling plays. The Bucs will run his defense and he's the one pressing for the changes that have to be made there so if the defense falters, it will definitely be on him. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: In Freeman's breakout 2010 year he seemed to scramble more if no one was open. He also scrambled more in college. What was the difference in scrambling from then to 2011? Keith, Apple Valley, CA A: I think the big difference was his mindset. Josh became so sure of himself that he often tried to make passing plays that he really couldn't make and so he was hanging in there and throwing at times when he could have been bailing and making a few yards on foot. I think you'll see him get back to that now that the Bucs are emphasizing better decision making. There's a fine line between knowing when to run and when to hang in there and try to make a play with your arm. Josh was right on that line in '10. He was way off it in '11. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Hey guys, what is the deal with Myron Lewis? I thought we had a lot of promise in him, but I haven't heard much about him since. I know depth at CB will be an issue this year, and you would think he would be a prime candidate for the nickel job instead of Biggers or Gaitor. I just wanted to know what you guys have seen out of him so far and if there is any chance of him being more involved in the defense rather than special teams. He has great size. Ryan Orwig, Virginia Beach, VA A: Lewis is definitely in the mix for that third corner spot. He hasn't looked bad so far, but he hasn't been sensational either. The thing Lewis has to do is develop some consistency and play a little tougher. He does have great size and a good skill set, but he's not the most involved player against the run and that has to change. Avoiding injuries or finding a way to play through them a little better would help him. -- Roy Cummings ---------
Answered July 30: Q: Who do you think will be the biggest impact player on the defense to turn us around after last year's horrible effort? Brian, Normal, IL A: I think Gerald McCoy will make the biggest impact. He has to stay healthy, obviously, but he was a difference maker when he was healthy last year and he's a smarter player now. This could be a breakout year for McCoy. The Bucs believe it will be. He does have to stay on the field, though. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Will the Bucs' preseason games be televised locally? Carl Weekley, Lake Placid A: The same blackout rules apply to preseason games as regular season games, so I wouldn't look for the two home games to be shown live. The road games will be shown live. Look for the others to be televised on a tape-delay basis, either later that night or the next afternoon. -- Roy Cummings --------- Answered July 28: Q: I hear Greg Schiano is more hands-on as a coach with the linebackers because of his experience there. Hypothetically, even if the d-line is dominant in a sense and the linebacker play dramatically improves, with the DBs we have how good could this defense really be? Nick, Tampa A: I haven't seen Schiano working with the LBs any more than he has any other group. His experience as a position coach is with the DBs, so maybe that will help this team on the back end and make the overall unit better. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Realistically, what would be a succesful season for the Bucs - 6-10, 7-9, 9-7 or better? I have been a fan since Day One and I'm 47 yrs old. I have some concerns about backup QB, plus Aqib Talib - can he concentrate on football and stop all the drama? I like Coach Schiano; he seems to be the kick in the pants some of the Bucs need. Living in canada, there's not a lot of Bucs coverage. Thank God for the internet! I predict a 10-6 seson. Mike Desrochers, Winnipeg A: The Bucs are not looking at this as a rebuilding year, so I believe they will only look at a season that ends with a playoff game as successful. Most outsiders will probably look at it differently and say any season that sees them improve markedly on their win total of year ago will be a success. Based on the fact they're all learning new systems and their coach is making an adjustment to a new league, I think the Bucs are about a seven-win team this year. If the can do that and be competitive for 16 weeks, that will be a success. -- Roy Cummings --------- Answered July 25: Q: Who do you see winning the slot cornerback position? I would like to see Myron Lewis stay healthy and show what he is capable of. Anthony Gaitor is also someone I would like to see on the field more, but I'm not sure if he is ready to be in the slot full time. E.J. Biggers has not shown me much in his time on the field. When roster cuts come, do you see the Bucs bringing in a veteran cornerback? Andrew Athans, Arnold, MD A: I think there's a very good chance that Ronde Barber will slip back into that spot on passing downs. I mean, the guy is probably going to wind up in the Hall of Fame based on his re-invention of that position and what he did from there. It would be easier for the Bucs to slide another safety into the lineup and move Barber to the slot than to try to find a better slot corner. On the other hand, Eric Wright can play slot corner very well and that will allow the Bucs the option of keeping Barber on the field at safety and using another corner (Biggers or Lewis) on the outside. The good news is they have some options there that will keep offenses guessing a bit. -- Roy Cummings --------- Answered July 24: Q: With the hiring of head coach Greg Schiano, is this a make-or-break year for GM Mark Dominik, or has he bought himself a year or two to prove that he can build a competitive roster? Peter Rubaek, Copenhagen, Denmark A: I think Mark Dominik has bought himself a few years here. He was brought in to rebuild the Bucs primarily through the draft and he seems to have done a decent job. On paper at least this is a very talented team. A lot will depend, however, on how Josh Freeman, Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, LeGarrette Blount, Mike Williams, Doug Martin, Mark Barron and Mason Foster perform over the next year or two. Those are the cornerstones of his rebuilding project. If they work out and the team becomes respectable and competitive again he'll be fine. If they struggle and it's proven out that mistakes were made in drafting them, he could be in trouble. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Is LeGarrette Blount really going to be released? Stories around different websites are making it seem that way. Jose Serrano, State College, PA A: Blount was the Bucs' leading ball carrier and ground gainer each of the last two years and he is still at the top of their depth chart. He's 25 years old and to hear Coach Greg Schiano tell it, he seems to have improved markedly as a pass catcher. Blount is going to have to fight for his carries this year and beyond, but even if he loses the battle it's hard to imagine the Bucs cutting him. They'll need plenty of depth at his position and he's already proven he can carry a ground game. No matter what "different websites'' are suggesting, I wouldn’t look for Blount to be cut any time soon. He's an asset, and you don't cut assets. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Last year I saw Josh Freeman stare down a lot of receivers and he had way too many interceptions. So in your professional opinion, do you believe this is a fixable trait for him and just a one-year deal? I felt I was tricked with that 25 TD, 6 INT season. If he isn't so sharp, do you see Tampa bringing in some QB competition ? Elvin d'Angelo, Riverview A: Freeman has said that a lot of his problems last year were the result of overconfidence. After throwing just six picks the year before, he got to a point, he said, where he honestly believed the ball would go wherever he wanted it to. Easy to see why a young player with so much success so early could fall into that trap. Knowing better now and with a staff of coaches emphasizing ball security, I'd look for a bounce back. I'm not sure he'll ever throw just six picks again, but he should improve markedly this year. If he doesn’t, then you will certainly see the Bucs re-think the position and possibly bring in some competition for him. This is a big year for Josh. -- Roy Cummings --------- Q: Hey Roy! I read your articles all the time but my question today is now that you see what the Bucs roster will look like (for the most part) what are their strengthens and weaknesses? How do you think they will fare with their last-place schedule? Mr. Alaska, Staten Island, NY A: I believe there is a lot of talent here and at just about every position. The problem is, most of the talent is very young and inexperienced. Even third-year pros such as Gerald McCoy have barely a full season's worth of experience. That means they're still learning, which is probably the biggest weakness. Another weakness may be at TE. The Bucs have what they hope is a No. 1 in Luke Stocker and an aging Dallas Clark, who all are hoping can stay healthy. If Stocker doesn't improve quickly and Clark struggles to stay healthy or regain form, the offense will be without a weapon at a very important position. Another weakness, potentially, is at LB. There is some talent there but it's a very young and mostly untried group. As for the plusses, there is better depth at RB and WR and the offensive line is as good as any Bucs team ever. The D-line could be exceptional, but again, it will depend on young players maturing fast. The special teams are truly special and the new coaching staff will likely get the most out of what they have. That's been Greg Schiano's MO. -- Roy Cummings --------- Answered July 17: Q: Being a 20-year Bucs fan, I'm never too excited about a new year until after Week 4 and we see what they really have. Having said that, can they possibly compete for a division crown with two legit contenders and the up-and-coming Panthers in a tough NFC South? Greg Minnick, Daytona Beach, FL A: Of course they can. In my mind, the Bucs were never quite as bad as their 4-12 record and 10-game losing streak indicated last year, and never quite as good as the 10-6 record in 2010 indicated. To me they are somewhere in the middle, which mean they're about a seven-win team. Give or take a couple of wins and they could push for nine wins and a playoff spot. This is a far more talented team than it was a year ago at this time. If Greg Schiano can get them to play up to their potential and eliminate stupid mistakes, the Bucs have a chance to surprise some people. -- Roy Cummings Click here to send us your own question.