The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are up to bat in today’s series of team-by-team mailbags.
Tyler in Lewiston, Pa., writes: Saw that Tampa Bay put in a waiver claim for Shawne Merriman...what's that all about? Isn't he a 3-4 OLB? Would he even be of any use to Tampa in a 4-3?
Pat Yasinskas: Well, it’s kind of a moot point since he ended up with Buffalo. But it was interesting that the Bucs put in a claim. Yeah, Merriman is a 3-4 linebacker and really wouldn’t fit in the system the Bucs use. But their pass rush has been so non-existent that I think they were willing to take a shot to improve it any way possible. They probably would have used Merriman as a situational pass rusher. It didn’t happen and I don’t think the Bucs are going to find a complete answer for their pass rush until they get to the next college draft and free agency in the spring.
Dylan in Las Vegas writes: I know people don't respect the wins the Bucs have to date because of who they were against. But that being said, why is it that Josh Freeman isn't even mentioned as someone to consider in MVP voting? The Bucs’ record is as good or better than those of the players Mike Sando is pushing in his latest column, and correct me if I am wrong, but it doesn't seem like many of these "candidates" have been more clutch for their teams than Freeman. There is no doubt that the other guys have great individual numbers, but isn't MVP supposed to be about value to the "team"? Help me understand.
Pat Yasinskas: All valid points and I might have to put a “bug’’ in Sando’s ear. Not saying this is my point of view, but just pointing out reality. Freeman and the Bucs are still viewed as the new kids on the block, and a lot of people aren’t sure what to make of them. If they keep winning and Freeman keeps doing his thing, then, the accolades will start to flow.
Robert in Dallas, Texas writes: Keep up the great work! Do you think Mike Williams could be Offensive Rookie of the Year if he keeps playing the way he has all year?
Pat Yasinskas: I’d say it’s a real possibility. Williams has been good from the start, and he’s coming off his first 100-yard receiving game. I think he only will continue to get better. Again, if the Bucs keep winning, the honors and the attention will follow.
Jim in Orlando writes: Was looking for some info on this Al Woods guy. Since he was drafted by the Saints, did you write anything on him? It seems like this was a good grab.
Pat Yasinskas: I wouldn’t get too excited about Woods or expect him to come right in and dominate. But I think he was worth a shot after the Bucs had to put rookie Brian Price on injured reserve. Woods was a fourth-round pick out of LSU and didn’t get a lot of playing time until his final college season. He didn’t have big production, but the Saints took a shot because they saw potential. Woods dropped some weight to try to add quickness, and that ended up working against him. He got pushed around too easily in training camp and the preseason, and that’s why the Saints cut him. But there still is potential there and Tampa Bay’s defensive line remains a work in progress. Woods might be able to carve out a niche with the Bucs.
Ricky in Los Angeles writes: Hey Pat, I was curious about your thoughts on Gerald McCoy and how he has been doing thus far?
Pat Yasinskas: Glad you asked that question, because I think McCoy has been too critical of himself and some Tampa Bay fans are suggesting he’s a bust because he has not put up big numbers. I talked to someone close to this situation very recently and the word is McCoy has been grading out well each game and the coaching staff is pleased with his play. Sure, there’s room for improvement, but this guy is only seven games into his career. Too many people expected McCoy to come in and instantly be the second coming of Warren Sapp in his prime. Those people forget that Sapp was barely even a factor his rookie year. McCoy’s progressing, and that will continue. Everybody wants to see some sacks from McCoy, and he wants that, too. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it will come at some point.