Mailbag: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

We’ll start our weekly team-by-team mailbags with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Joey in Vero Beach writes: I just want to start by saying that I love your blogs and look at them every day! You are never biased and I really enjoy your articles. I think it’s about time for Josh Freeman to start against GB? Think about it. It’s at home and the Packers are not the best team.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m with you. I’ve been saying for months I thought Freeman would start the game after the bye, which is against the Packers. I think the Bucs wanted all along to get through the New England game before putting Freeman on the field. They’re almost to that point now and I think it’s time to start finding out what they have in their first-round pick.

Dylan in Las Vegas writes: We know the Bucs wanted a youth movement and was part of the reason Josh Johnson is starting. But does it hurt Freeman that he does not have a strong veteran starting QB to learn from the way Eli did with Warner, Rogers did with Farve and Young did with Montana?

Pat Yasinskas: My gut says that’s not a big deal. Freeman does have a veteran to lean on in Byron Leftwich. Even though he’s no longer playing, Leftwich is a team guy and he does his best to help Freeman. But offensive coordinator Greg Olson is the one most in charge of Freeman’s development. I think the veteran thing might be a little overrated. For instance, I’m sure Steve Young learned some things from Joe Montana, but the fact is the two of them were far from close and that created some division in the locker room.

Jason in Medway, Ohio writes: What is going on with the Bucs LB core? My biggest concern is why Barrett Ruud was not resigned during the offseason to a long-term deal. He is their defense. Any talks going on between the Bucs and him, or will this wait till after the season? I can't see them letting him leave or franchising him, so the lack of a new contract when he asked for one seemed confusing to me. Any insights you have would be greatly appreciated.

Pat Yasinskas: I’m also surprised that nothing has happened with Ruud. I thought the Bucs would have extended his contract by now. But there’s not a big rush. He still has another year on his contract. I think the Bucs want to make sure they have something special in Ruud before giving him a huge contract. A few big plays from time to time would help his case.

Gerald in Bradenton writes: Do you think coach Morris will be there next year, or is his job in jeopardy?....(the play calling has been horrible)

Pat Yasinskas: The Bucs didn’t hire Raheem Morris just to fire him after one season. They’re hoping he’s there for a long time and things turn around. That said, Morris needs to win a few games and the Bucs need to show progress. If they go 0-16 or 1-15 and don’t show much hope for the future, it would be tough to keep Morris.

Ben in Arlington, Va. writes: Who votes for the NFC/AFC awards for Offensive / Defensive / Special Teams Player of the Week?

Pat Yasinskas: Those awards are selected by the NFL office in New York. Not sure there's an actual vote as much as there is a consensus decision. I know the public relations directors for teams around the league lobby hard when they’ve got a candidate for an award because the awards mean a lot to players and teams. Some players even have clauses in their contracts that call for them to get bonuses for winning awards like this.