|LCB||Darrelle Revis||Danny Gorrer||Melvin Rashaan|
|SS||Mark Barron||Cody Grimm||Sean Baker|
|FS||Dashon Goldson||Ahmad Black||Keith Tandy|
|RCB||Leonard Johnson||Johnthan Banks||Michael Adams|
In 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense was historically bad — literally, they almost broke an NFL record for the worst statistical pass defense of all time. They gave up 4,758 yards total through the air which averages out to 297.4 yards per game.
Secondary coaches Jeff Hafley (safeties) and Tony Oden (cornerbacks) are still new to the players, but honestly, there’s only one direction they can go: up.
Oden has been a defensive back coach in the NFL since 2006, starting with the New Orleans Saints. He will be replacing Ron Cooper after just one year at the position. But, Oden will have almost an entirely new cast of characters to work with, with the main attraction being Darrelle Revis. Throw out Eric Wright, Aquib Talib, E.J. Biggers and Myron Lewis, then add Darrelle Revis and Johnthan Banks and I’d say Oden has a much more promising start.
Oden isn’t the only coach with a new toy to play with. After losing future Hall of Famer Ronde Barber to retirement, the Bucs gave coach Hafley Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson. Goldson comes in from a fierce San Francisco defense and shows promise as not only a defensive playmaker but also an on-the-field role model to young safety Mark Barron.
Darrelle Revis was hands down the best CB in football prior to tearing his ACL early last season. Any time an opposing team faced off against him, it was as if the game plan had the field cut half; teams just wouldn’t throw it to his side. But as time so often warps perception, the time that went by while Revis was not playing football seemed to lead people to forget how good he was, including New York Jets GM John Idzik.
As early as December, the Jets started fielding realistic trades for their injured star CB. The price was originally two 1st round picks (2013 and 2014) and a 2013 2nd round pick. Most teams in the NFL were interested in Revis, but not for that price. However, Bucs GM Mark Dominik looked at the offer as an opportunity. Soon, word got out that Revis was on the trading block and Revis’ immediate reaction was that he felt like he was betrayed; that just stirred the pot even more. Now, the star CB was not happy, and the Jets knew it. Revis was coming into the last year of his contract and knew he’d walk from the organization that turned his back on him, and that is what opened the door wide open for Mark Dominik to make a deal. Now, all the leverage was in Tampa’s favor. Dominik went to the Jets and basically said, we’ll give you our 2013 1st round pick, and that’s the best you’ll get or Revis will walk for nothing. With their backs against the wall the Jets accepted and Revis was on his way to Tampa Bay.
If healthy, Revis is not just a game changer or a season changer, he’s a franchise changer. Revis’ return date has always been Week 1 of the regular season, and the team says he is well on pace to achieve that. And just as the NFL so brilliantly does, who do the Bucs play Week 1 of the regular season? The New York Jets in MetLife Stadium.
Goldson was the latest marquee free agent signing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After two consecutive Pro Bowls, he was looking to cash in a big pay day, and he did just that with a five-year $41.25 million dollar contract. Goldson is coming off two years where he produced on the stat sheet as well as in the locker room and compiled 14 interception over six seasons. He brings a great deal of insight on what it’s like to be on a dominate defense to a young Tampa secondary. I just hope he and Mike Williams have worked everything out….
“The Tide Rolls into the Bay.”
Mark Barron is coming into his sophomore year just looking to continue getting the hang of NFL speed. He played well last year when he was allowed to do what came naturally to him, but struggle when he was left as the only safety to defend in deep zone coverages. Schiano says he wants to play to Barron’s strengths a lot more this season and plans to have him much closer to the linebackers and near the line of scrimmage.
The four-year starter at Mississippi State may not have much time to adapt to the NFL game styles with Eric Wright no longer on the team. Banks was a tall, sound-tackling playmaker that will get the chance to contribute right away in RCB duties as well as in nickel situations. He played well in his debut against the Ravens, despit losing the game 44-16.
Banks did some good things. Made some rookie mistakes, but did some good things too. There’s stuff to build on there so that’s nice.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach, Greg Schiano
In the limited time Johnson saw as a rookie last year, he was able to contribute. He played very well when called upon and ended the year with 3 interceptions and even managed to get a touchdown. He showed he has playmaking ability, but just needs more time to grow as a player. He’ll likely be the starter opposite Revis Week 1.
In a training camp interview, Johnson said he’s looking forward to learning from Revis.
I’m very excited. I’m really excited to watch Revis and learn from him, take that from him and throw it into my own game.
Now, originally, I wouldn’t have written a section for Danny Gorrer, but he showed a lot of confidence in the preseason game versus the Ravens and even manage to intercept “the 20-million-dollar man” Joe Flacco. He gives some unexpected depth to the CB position, a position that fans were very worried about beyond Revis. He seemed to put the exclamation point on the early reports that the defensive backs were improving.
However, intercepting a playoff team in the first quarter of the preseason and intercepting a playoff team in the 4th quarter of the regular season are two very different things. Still, Gorrer solidifies promise, good start for him.