Midseason Report Card: Defense, ST, Coaching Staff

Round 2, Here we go...

 

Aqib Talib - A-/B+ - Talib is becoming more and more of a "ball-hawk." It was been a double-edged sword this year as he often gambles. Excuse my kindergarten terminology, but he is easy to fake out. His eyes have been in the backfield quite a bit and he has jumped on several first breaks, leaving him in the dust on deep routes too often. When I say too often, I mean maybe 5-8 times this season. Not all have resulted in big plays or touchdowns, because that's how football plays out. I appreciate Talibs aggression, but he needs to be more disciplined. There has also been way too many communication break-downs in the secondary. However, this is more on the coaching staff.

Ronde Barber - C - First, this isn't going to be a huge knock on Ronde as it pertains to his career. He is just old and and the very end. Ronde has been abysmal against the run and tackling receivers that catch short passes, often lunging at tackles without having his feet under him. Barber has never been a sure tackler, though he's always been solid, but he used to do a much better job of maintaining his feet. He is still one of the best in the league at defending the flats, his tackling just isn't there. Quarterbacks still know where Ronde is when throwing to the flats on his side. Barber has benefited from the play of Talib as it takes some pressure off him. Barber will likely remain the starter throughout the rest of the year, and hopefully it's just enough of a band-aid.

EJ Biggers - C - There were few bigger supporters of Biggers in the preseason than me. He outperformed Lewis and Mack to earn the 3rd CB position. As good as his play has been at times this year, it has been that bad. More than anyone in the secondary Biggers has gotten lost, failed to maintain position or missed big tackles. He has also, at times, broken up touchdown passes, blanketed receivers and has 7 defended passes, 1 pick. It's inconsistency that earns Biggers a C. Maybe with a better pass-rush, Biggers shines.

Sean Jones - B/C - Jones may be one of the hardest guys for me to evaluate, though DB is a position I pride myself on knowing well. The thing with Jones is he just doesn't stand out. He doesn't make extraordinary plays, but doesn't make terrible ones. He has failed to provide help needed in some Cover 2 situations a couple of times and I can think of at least 2 TD's he was a big contributor to. That happens in the NFL though, even to the best of them. He's improved throughout the season against TE's and against the run, which were deemed to be his strengths. Early on, I was concerned that I wasn't seeing much near the LOS from him. If this trend continues he could be our option going into next year as well.

Cody Grimm - B+ - As I mentioned earlier, I love good DB play. I have also taken a strong liking to Grimm. Every week I see things that continue to impress me. As a fan, he has become on of my favorite pieces on this defense. He has stood out, in a negative light, more than a couple of times. His play against Mike Wallace was an obvious blunder. After that butt-whoopin' we took though, I did my best to convince you that he played well. And to this day, I stand by that. The plays I have seen him fail on, seems like he is in the picture, but it's not necessarily his responsibility. Regardless, fans see what they want, without any knowledge of schemes and responsibilities. Bold statement of the year: Cody Grimm is an elite tackler. It's textbook. He isn't going to knock the snot out of a guy, but he will finish the play. He's missed a couple, but if you can point out a defender in the league who doesn't, than I'll show you someone who isn't watching football closely. He generally gets his body in excellent position, takes good angles, wraps up and drives through. Consistently. He is absolutely the best tackler on the team and maybe 2nd or 3rd in the NFC South (Beason comes to mind). I give him a B, because he does have a lot to learn in the secondary. I'm excited about the future of Grimm, though you are free to rip me for it.

Tanard Jackson - F - for Failure.

Barrett Ruud -   - C- - I have probably been his strongest supporter on this site. Attributing much of last year to an awful DL. I could pull the same excuse again, and while it probably has some weight, just doesn't cut it in this league. Ruud would still start on 18-20 teams in this league. He just doens't live up to my expectations. Little leadership from him, bad angles and either gets too deep or not deep enough on his drops. In the game threads all year I have defended him on his assignments. After all, it's assignments that dictate where he will be. He does a good job of covering those assignments, but to be an elite MLB he has to be able to cut back and make big tackles, disrupt the backfield, and always "seem to be around the ball." That's where Ruud struggles and why I give him a C- for the first half of the season. He has been getting better as the season has progressed so this C- could very well jump up to a B before the seasons end.

Geno Hayes - B- - Just what we thought of Hayes. Very good against the pass, marginal against the run. Nothing has changed.

Quincy Black - C - Feared pass rusher? Either Morris isn't dialing up the right blitzes or Black isn't as dominant in the pass rush as we thought. It doesn't help him that nobody on the line is a good pass-rusher though. He has also made some boneheaded moves when dropping into coverage.

Stylez White - D - White has regressed. He has never been great against the run, but now isn't even getting a pass-rush. I see him trying. I won't fault White for quitting on plays. He's pulling out all of the stops, but he's just not getting there. I put a ton of blame on Todd Wash. Wash likely won't have a job next year, unless the second half of the season is vastly different.

Kyle Moore - D+ - I saw a lot of improvement this pass week from Moore. I thought he had the best game on the DL against the Falcons. I saw him making plays down the LOS and getting much more physical than I have ever seen. Still a long way to go, but as of now, Moore is fighting for a starting spot next year. Can he turn it around?

Roy Miller - D - Miller is a situational player at best, which were the hopes when they brought in Brian Price. I was so excited about Miller, last year. They talked about how he plays with a chip on his shoulder, is aggressive and was going to be the guy we needed against the run. The run defense is still in the bottom of the league and Miller doesn't look aggressive. It looks like he is on skates most of the time. He plays too high (which is a universal problem on our DL) and is never holding his gap or in position to stuff a play. D for disappointing.

Gerald McCoy - C - A rookie on the DL isn't supposed to make a huge impact, regardless of the expectations. Suh is the exception. I still think the team would have drafted Suh had they had the choice, but that's neither here nor there and pure speculation. Sander sees McCoy getting to the quarterback just not in time and effictevly stunting and slanting. I don't. I see McCoy being succeptible to down blocking, off balance when he is able to get a pass rush and playing way too high to makes tackles along the LOS. For every 2 plays he has where Sander thinks he looks good he has 1-2 where I think he looks terrible. It's inconsistent which to me spells out ineffective. If you stop a runner on 1st and 2nd yet give up the 3rd down play every time, your not being useful. McCoy will get there. I am 90% certain of that. He's just not there yet, and that's OK. Even with 5 wins right now, we are still in a rebuilding year.

Tim Crowder/Michael Bennett - D- - Depth at best, but not even productive when they are on the field.

Michael Spurlock (KR) - B - Before this last week I would have given him a C. He stepped it up though.

Connor Barth - B - I don't have his touchback stats, but that is what is keeping him from A. He struggles on kickoffs. Doesn't get them deep and they aren't high enough. Perfect from under 40 yards. Perfect on XP. 75% on 40-49 and 1/3 from 50+. His distance isn't spectacular but his accuracy is.

Robert Malone - B - 41.7/Punt. 

Preston Parker - D - Dances too much. Need a straight away runner for KR. Don't want to see Bissacia pull that again.

Todd Wash - F - Consistently bad. Time for Wash to go. I can't believe that it's all on the players and people are just regressing instead of improving.

Eric Yarber (WR Coach)- A - For what Yarber has been able to do from last year to this is remarkable. All of his receivers are doing what is asked of them and doing it well. Spurlock has improved. Williams is a star. Benn is coming around. Stroughter is solid. One more year and a half of this and Yarber will find himself an OC job somewhere.

Rich Bisaccia - B/C - Not where he wants his units yet. Last week was a huge improvement against a good ST. Bisaccia needs to improve on that!

Brian Templien - A+ - The Bucs have gotten all the film they need. Excellent job Brian.

Raheem Morris - B+ - To me, last week sums up Raheem Morris. That onside kick call was excellent. Bold, but calculated. Everything Morris has done in Tampa has been a bold attempt to overhaul the team. Some of it work, some of it doesn't. I love Morris confidence and enthusiasm, but at times he needs to dial it back. I'm a Stan Van Gundy fan. I'm not asking Morris to not be excited, hooting and hollerin', jumping around, yelling at his players, etc. I am saying he needs to think about what he says when he says it. SVG talks so much. Most of it's honest and hilarious. Morris needs to take a page out of that book. Be more open and honest if you are going to talk that much. He also needs to realize how foolish it makes him. This world against the Bucs thing is fine if you don't take it too far. Nobody is out to get them, but they have to continue to prove themselves and against teams with a winning record.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - B - Nobody thought they would be 5-3. Nobody. It's still a rebuilding year, but we have improved a ton on offense. It's exciting and gives us reason for hope. With that said, I want to see us start beating quality teams, and I don't mean the St. Louis Rams. A win against NO, Atl, Baltimore or Washington. Win 2 of those 4 and this team is for real.

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