Yesterday provided a little bit of an insight into how the Buccaneers are going to be approaching their defensive backfield and the training camps leading up to the season. Many fans were very shocked at the back to back selections of M.J. Stewart and Carlton Davis in the second round. With Grimes returning for this upcoming season and Vernon Hargreaves III looking to make drastic improvements to his game, the Buccaneers are looking to improve their secondary as a whole.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith chose to offer a little clarity into their approach this offseason.
“We’ve told everybody that we want everybody to come in with the mindset that they’re going to be the starter at their position. Vernon’s position is corner and nickel corner in the base defense and nickel in our sub package. We want these guys to go out and compete. We don’t care where they were drafted, how much they get paid. We’re going to put the best 11 guys out there on every snap and we want these guys to go out and compete against each other from day one. In terms of Vernon specifically, Vernon is competing to be the starting corner in base and probably going to be the guy we would move in because I think he has a better skill set at the nickel position in our sub defense.”
Take that with a grain of salt as it is still early on and many players are looking to take that spot opposite Grimes if there is any hint of possibly switching things up. As you look at the packages the defense uses and the players that are making a name for themselves right now, it is very likely that Vernon will face some solid competition from his new hungry teammates as this season approaches.
I like the idea of keeping Vernon in the slot if that’s where he feels more comfortable and has the most success, but if Davis or Stewart seems to provide more stability and excel on the outside, I’d like to see them given the opportunity. Vernon didn’t adapt very well last year and the thought of wasting game after game again this season could be more detrimental.
I feel with Jameis having the injured shoulder last year we may have been evaluating our secondary as well as the rest of the team. With those evaluations let’s move forward for the benefit of everyone.
If Vernon is more comfortable on the inside and Carlton Davis proves himself on the outside one on one, then roll with it. We say all year it’s week by week, game by game, let’s do our evaluating the same way and make the adjustments.
The talent this team has on paper, as much as I hate that saying, is enough to push some teams around in the postseason. Let’s field the best team with the most potential week by week, and make our adjustments accordingly, not next year.