In today’s NFL, reliability is probably the most sought-after quality in a starting safety.
He is the last line of defense. When he hits you, he needs to make sure that the offense can no longer advance the ball past him, and that the yellow flags don’t fly and give the offense free yardage.
Dashon Goldson, despite all of his talents, was not reliable during his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the hits he made were entertaining, they generally gave the other team 15 yards and an automatic first down. He faced fines and suspensions, on his way to posting a disappointing season in pewter and red.
If Goldson doesn’t want his second year in Tampa to be his last, he must adjust his style of play.
To demonstrate that fact, the wonderful folks at Pro Football Reference keep a log of every player’s penalties. Here were Goldson’s in 2013:
He accounted for seven accepted penalties, which may seem like nothing.
However, you have to look at the penalties he was being hit with. Personal fouls, unnecessary roughness, and pass interference calls are all ones that lead to an automatic first down for the offense.
That means that there were seven times in 2013 in which Dashon Goldson kept the chains moving for the other team. That is the exact opposite of what he’s supposed to be doing for this team, and it is also why he is on the hot seat this season.
Don’t forget that the Buccaneers now have some flexibility at the safety position. If Goldson doesn’t show the ability to adapt given new NFL rules and his current reputation within the league, then I am sure that Lovie Smith will have no issues with subbing in Major Wright or Keith Tandy. Wright has experience in Lovie’s defense, and Tandy was very serviceable in backup duty when his name was called in 2013.
Tampa Bay is locked into Goldson’s contract for now, but the options of trading him, or possibly cutting him and enduring a salary cap hit, are two very real possibilities.