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Barrett Ruud Calls A Great Defense, But A Replacement Doesn't Need To

All the coaches agree: Barrett Ruud knows how to call the Bucs' defense. Every other week, someone reports how Barrett Ruud is great at getting the defense in position. I'm sure it's true. It's impossible to judge as there's no way to know the original calls or the changes Ruud makes, but there's no reason to doubt the coaches. 

So when talking about possible replacements for Ruud, I often find myself talking about calling the defense as well. Someone will need to take over Barrett Ruud's role next season if he isn't back, and that someone is by default the middle linebacker. But there's no reason why someone else can't make those calls. For years, Derrick Brooks had that role, and he didn't play middle linebacker. 

So who on the Bucs' defense could be that guy? A linebacker is the most natural player to call the defense, as they're in position to see the entire offense, but also close enough to get their calls to everyone on defense. Geno Hayes is the only experienced linebacker guaranteed to be back, as he has two years of starting experience. Why couldn't  he call the defense? If the Bucs re-sign Quincy Black, he will have two years of starting experience again. Why not him? In a pinch, Ronde Barber could call the defense as well. He's played in this defense as long as anyone, and while he isn't in place to do so on regular downs, he is aligned inside on passing downs and could easily make those calls then. 

So there's another reason why the Bucs could get rid of Barrett Ruud. If Tyrone McKenzie or Mason Foster don't need to know the audibles, they can concentrate on simply knowing how to play football. And while the offseason will be shortened, there should be time enough for a linebacker to learn the defense and get on the field. Yes, the Bucs' on-field adjustments would suffer a little if Ruud was to leave, but Ruud was praised as an on-field playcaller in his first year doing so: 2009. At that point he'd been in the Bucs' system 4 years, and had 2 years of starting experience. Not too different from Geno Hayes or Quincy Black now.