After years of Tampa Bay having at least one question mark at the safety position, it appears the Buccaneers are thriving. Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield Jr. both have ball-hawk mentalities and the ability to tackle with authority. Let’s talk about Jordan Whitehead, the third year free safety out of Pittsburgh.
Changing his number (31 to 33) is not the only difference about Whitehead compared to last season. He’s bigger, stronger, and already forcing more turnovers for his defense. Year two of Todd Bowles’ scheme leaves Whitehead with a lot of responsibility. Whitehead likely won’t see as many blitz dial-upped as his fellow safety Antoine Winfield Jr. This means Whitehead will often be tasked with covering tight ends or running backs coming out of the backfield. So far, he has been up for the challenge.
Week 2 vs Carolina
In week two’s matchup versus the Carolina Panthers, Whitehead recorded five total tackles, one for loss, and an interception. His tackle for loss was a huge play for his team. Carolina was looking to keep momentum by running a fake punt. Whitehead shot through the line and stopped the play before it could go anywhere, creating a turnover on downs. His other turnover was a huge first quarter interception while the game was still scoreless. Carolina looked to be marching down the field, but Whitehead made an impressive catch on a poorly thrown ball by Teddy Bridgewater. Whitehead was one of the best players on the field during Sunday’s matchup.
Week Three will be another challenge for Whitehead. Denver will be without their starting quarterback Drew Lock, as well as their top wide receiver Courtland Sutton. I would expect backup quarterback Jeff Driskel to dump many passes to running back Melvin Gordon, as well as his tight end Noah Fant. Whitehead will likely get some man coverage assignments on both Gordon and Fant, who will likely be Driskel’s top targets. If Whitehead can play solid man coverage, and continue to help lock down the run game, I would expect the Tampa Bay defense to create turnovers just like they did versus Carolina.