Replacing Tanard Jackson in Week 3 is nearly impossible. While he has been a (very) slight liability against the pass, his experience and play-making ability are unmatched in the Bucs safety corp. For this reason, I have been incredibily disappointed in the media and fan reaction to S Cody Grimm. After a tough loss, it is understandable to look for a goat. I am the king at doing this. For me, in this game, the goat would not have been Cody Grimm but our Defensive Line. It's laughable that people feel that it's easy to demagogue a 7th round draft pick, yet refrain from heaping a bit of criticism on Brian Price or Gerald McCoy who have had far greater expectations set for them. Some of the media reaction includes
"I know [the Bucs] are going to look at other guys, possibly bring some in and work some other guys out and that’s not a bad thing," Cummings said. "It’s a little obvious that [Grimm] is a little out of his league right now. I know they are looking at bringing guys in. Maybe they go to a three-man rotation [at safety]? Maybe Corey Lynch gets some time? Maybe Sabby Piscitelli will get another shot?"
Joe Henderson, TBO:
Tell you what, though. I still think General Manager Mark Dominik ought to get on phone and go shopping for an upgrade at safety. I know teams don't often make trades once the season starts in the National Football League, but there are compelling reasons to make an exception this time.
I doubt anyone would argue that Grimm had more to live up to than the rookie D-Lineman. Heck, he's probably not even the most popular backup safety on our team. That title probably belongs to Corey Lynch after one hell of a preseason. Yet, to me the rookie defensive lineman were far more disappointing than Grimm even came close to.
The reason lies within the highlight reel.
Rarely, will you see McCoy or Price being singled out on a highlight reel. However, when a safety gives up a 1 on 1 touchdown it's clear whose fault it was. Certainly I am not excusing the one play of Cody Grimm. First, he was beat by MIke Wallace. I think he got caught looking into the backfield too much and was several steps behind Wallace. Luckily for Grimm, the ball was poorly thrown. Grimm used his speed to close quickly, which he did. The mistake Grimm made was a high-school level mistake. Before Wallace even caught the ball most fans recognized it.
The mistake was Grimm watched Wallace. As a former (and incredibly nonathletic) high-school DB you are taught never to watch the player. By the time he reacts to the play, it's too late for you to react. Instead you are taught to always turn your head and find the ball. Grimm tried to get his arm between Wallaces arm and swipe the ball out. Perfect strategy except he had no idea when the ball was going to get there or where it was. Had he turned his head, it's likely this ball was deflected or even intercepted. To watch this play follow this link.
It was predictable that they would try to test Grimm. I think he passed that test MINUS the costly mistake. Nobody talks about how Charlie Batch had a full 6 seconds to throw the ball. Nobody discusses how the sophmore, Roy Miller, who was lauded for being tough, mean and had something to prove doesn't even attempt to get pressure, rather just stands and jumps for 4 seconds. Nobody mentions Gerald McCoy and Kyle Moore flying 12 yards into the backfield and effectively taking themselves out of the play. Cody Grimm just finds himself as the goat.
Yet, for the rest of the game I didn't see a single instance that jumped out to me in which Grimm messed up. I've watched the Hines Ward TD over and over again. More than anyone, I would place fault on the Defensive Line and Barrett Ruud for looking too much in the backfield. It looked as if Grimm was trying to get between Batch and Antonio Brown on the play. Batch definitely looks to Brown, but Grimm has him covered up. More than anything, I think it was a bad defense on the play. There wasn't anyone assigned to covering the middle of the end-zone. The pass rush was awful. Either a coaching failure, a Ruud failure or I'm missing something. Regardless, it wasn't a Grimm failure.
"Cody Grimm, actually, when you look at the tape," Morris said. "After that first play, he played really well. He played as sharp as I’ve seen a rookie in a while. He played better than Tanard [Jackson] did in his first game out in Seattle."
While this may sound like Morris is just saying this to protect a young player, I have no doubt that he graded out well on film outside of the one play. It also boggles my mind that as JoeBucsFan reported that Head Coach Raheem Morris decided often to not blitz or switch up any pass rushes to get more pressure. With the added pressure of covering the field for longer, Grimm held up incredibly well. He made some well-timed tackles, a textbook tackle on Wallace, a huge 4th and 1 stop and defended the pass nicely.
I find it amazing that people are willing to give Josh Freeman time as a starter to develop, make mistakes and learn on the go at the most crucial position on the field. Yet, when a rookie safety is going to make mistakes on the field, it's time to pull him. Either we are in a rebuilding stage, or we aren't.
Maybe that 2-0 start aroused too many false hopes. Maybe it set unrealistic expectations on this team and some of the younger player.
I stand by Cody Grimm as the starting free safety.