A week ago the Buccaneers were celebrating a second big win in a row and it was highlighted by a career game from Ryan Smith. The young corner had what appeared to truly be a career turner on the field as his past struggles all seemed to vanish in a complete game both on special teams and outside at corner. Fast forward to Monday Night Football and a defense unable to stop Ben Roethlisberger and the question arises, why did Ryan Smith not get an opportunity to build upon last weeks game?
Last week, Koetter commented on how big a game Ryan Smith had.
“I thought that was Ryan Smith’s easily best game of his career. I thought he was aggressive all day. Not only that, but he made two really big plays on punt coverage. I’m just so proud of him. Very proud of him because that kid has taken some abuse and for him to hang in there and keep battling.” - Dirk Koetter
It seems strange that a week removed from such a big game but playing the veteran over a younger guy playing well has happened before. A season ago coming off arguably his best game, Vernon Hargreaves III inexplicably saw a massive decrease in playing time. This week, it’s Ryan Smith in lieu of returning vet Brent Grimes who was previously injured and did not play too well in this one. We are currently seeing a similar ordeal take place in the backfield on offense where Jacquizz Rodgers is seeing the field over Ronald Jones who has been unable to crack suiting up let alone touching the ball on offense.
For Dirk Koetter and Mike Smith, comfort takes precedent over recent results. Comfort means taking the guy you know, some would say high floor, versus high ceiling and potentially a bigger payout. Playing it safe funny enough is not what got this team to 2-0. Moving to Monken calling plays on offense gave this team a spark. Ryan Fitzpatrick delivering big blows through the air and taking chances allowed this offense to blossom while Jameis Winston served his suspension. This team took an “L” against the Steelers in a game in which they kicked field goals instead of going for touchdowns. They reverted to more first down runs versus passes, a trend they had bucked the first two weeks en route to historic offensive performances.
Jameis Winston returns to work Tuesday morning. When Jameis returns he most likely will not start until after the bye week. When this team comes out of the bye there will be a change. At quarterback for one, there should be a change as Winston takes the reigns. At running back, the team should start to work Ronald Jones in to add another level to the offense with an explosive runner out of the backfield. The defense may want to look towards another youth movement as Jordan Whitehead plays more often in place of Chris Conte and alongside Justin Evans. Maybe, just maybe, the team looks at getting Ryan Smith some more opportunities outside at corner opposite Carlton Davis, maybe.