Mark Barron had...issues last season. Not groundbreaking issues, and not anything that most rookies don't go through, but he struggled through most of the season after a strong start. He did show his considerable talent over the final two games, at least, even making the final play in the season by knocking down a Matt Ryan pass to Tony Gonzalez.
Part of Barron's issues came because of the way he was used. With Ronde Barber on the field, he was initially asked to mostly play in the box. But as the season progressed and cornerbacks started to drop like flies, Ronde Barber was increasingly used as a slot cornerback in dime and even nickel packages. Mostly so they wouldn't have to trot out even more undrafted free agents at cornerback than they already did.
That put Ahmad Black on the field as the second safety, and the Bucs seemed to be less than comfortable with him as a single high safety. Which, in turn, led to Barron lining up deep in Cover 2 and Cover 1 looks more and more frequently.
Up comes this tweet from one of the Pro Football Focus guys.
Last season, Barron played just 23.4% of his snaps within 8 yards of the LoS, compared to 39.1% for Ronde Barber. #Buccaneers— Jeff Ratcliffe (@JeffRatcliffe) July 1, 2013
Well, that's not that good. Barron is capable of playing single-high safety, but he is at his best closer to the line of scrimmage where he can have a bigger effect in the run game, where he can blitz and where he can line up in man coverage on tight ends.
With Dashon Goldson in the fold, we should see more of Barron in the box. If the Buccaneers do go back to three-safety sets in nickel and/or dime, Barron is now the best fit to play in the box, with Black and Goldson better suited to playing deep. Hopefully, that change will help Barron improve in his second NFL season.
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