We're examining every Tampa Bay Buccaneers position group to see if the Bucs improved this year. Today: safety.
2014 roster: Dashon Goldson, Keith Tandy, Mark Barron, Bradley McDougald, Major Wright
2015 roster: Chris Conte, Bradley McDougald, Major Wright, Chris Hackett, D.J. Swearinger, Derrick Wells, Keith Tandy
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into the 2014 season with a pair of highly talented safeties in Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson, although Goldson's credentials were heavily questioned after a lackluster 2013 season in spite of (or because of) his exorbitant salary. Now, both players were traded to teams that could actually use their talents while the Buccaneers make do with probably less talented players who are better fits for the team's Tampa 2 scheme.
Those players don't have terrific track records, though. Bradley McDougald did well last year, but only started five games -- can he keep up that level of play for an entire season? Meanwhile, Major Wright will have to battle Chris Conte and D.J. Swearinger for the remaining starting spot. Conte's been a disaster in Chicago for the past two years, although he was at least nondescript under Lovie Smith before that, while D.J. Swearinger wasn't let go in Houston because of his outstanding play. The best thing we can say about Major Wright is that he does his job -- no more, no less.
But these are the kinds of players the Bucs had on the roster last year, too. In fact, McDougald and Wright were on the roster at the time -- and they couldn't beat out Mark Barron or Dashon Goldson in training camp. The only real additions this year have been Chris Conte and D.J. Swearinger, and they've been awful the past couple of years. Hardly what you'd call a major improvement.
Then again, these players all know the Bucs' scheme (except for Swearinger) and the team's major problem at the position last year was players being out of position consistently. With Barron and Goldson gone, that problem should largely be gone now.
So did the Bucs get better this year? Only if you believe that removing Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson from the equation is inherently positive.