The Buccaneers won a nail-biter Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals to break a 4-game losing streak. There are several storylines from this game but one, in particular, I want to touch on.
Lack Of Hustle
Head coach Bruce Arians benched cornerback Vernon Hargreaves in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. Arians was asked by the media about it. Per ESPN’s Jenna Laine, Arians said, “He didn’t look like he was hustling to go in for a tackle,” when the defense gave up a 55-yard catch and gain to Andy Isabella (WR) in the third quarter. Arians had called out the entire secondary after last week’s performance against Seattle.
Hargreaves responded with, “If that’s what Coach saw, that’s what he saw, there’s no arguing it. I need to hustle, point-blank, end of discussion. And I’ll get better. I’m sure I’ll talk with him this week and we’ll get things straightened out, and we’ll see where to go from here.” Remember Hargreaves was also benched during the first practice of OTAs this offseason.
The 4th-year corner did make it back in the game after M.J. Stewart went down with a knee injury. “I knew it was gonna happen, I knew it was gonna happen because it always does. I’ve been through this before, honestly. Guys get hurt. I knew it. I knew I was gonna go back in the game. I knew I had to finish the game. Something was just telling me. I stayed ready. It’s not my first time going through something like this. We’ll see. We’ll see if we can get it figured out.”
Hargreaves’ lackluster play isn’t something new, it’s more of the norm with him. To be a first-round pick and the veteran “leader” of the secondary AND be benched in a close game is a bad look. When you factor in that the Buccaneers have upwards of 20 players they will have to decide to re-sign or not, it may be a death blow for Hargreaves’ future with the team.